I love my job.
Though I have much to learn about the area, it’s clearly apparent how special and unique the natural resources are in the Truckee River Basin. The angling community here is as passionate as any I have seen, and their protection and care for the rivers is very encouraging to behold. I couldn’t ask to be with more environmentally motivated people. That said, let’s look at the current state of affairs on the Truckee River and consider what is next for this river and its tributaries.
A Change in Season
Fall in Truckee is in full swing, with the added benefit of some snow storms from the impending El Niño. If you are just now looking to see aspen changing colors, you’ve already missed it. The trout in the Truckee River and the Little Truckee River have finally taken a deep, cold breath (figuratively) after this historically difficult summer. During the drought this year, the river was taken care of in profound ways. The angling and conservation minded community has ultimately been a catalyst for the preservation of our fish and water resources. So, hats off to you all for the care, concern, and collaboration that you have extended in this past season.
We are optimistic for the potential that the El Niño brings to the area; the Truckee River is due for a high flow event to wash away the sediment that has silted in many
pools and runs in the Truckee River. If the forecast is correct, we will be getting a wet winter and that flushing flow will come down the Truckee. The trout will benefit immensely if the predictions come true. Rivers have an amazing ability to bounce back after times of drought and peril.
“I can tell you that a typical angler here on the Truckee will not be repeating the often-heard Colorado refrain of “Bro, I had a 50 fish day on the river!”
Little Truckee River and Truckee River
The Little Truckee River has been thriving with life recently. The brown trout spawn is in full swing. Many of trout are moving onto their spawning beds. Lake-run brown trout from Boca Reservoir are making their pilgrimage to their spawning grounds. This means many of the fish in the river are feeding on eggs. Also, many of the larger trout are moving out from their hiding spots and into new water. This time of year you can sight fish to these behemoths actively feeding in runs. If you are unsure whether a fish you see is spawning or not, please avoid casting to it!
In terms of aquatic insect life, small mayflies, midges and stoneflies have been showing up. The flows for the Little Truckee are currently running at around 47-50 CFS and the Truckee is running at 76 below Boca Bridge and 97 at Farad respectively. There has been silt in the water as the release at Stampede Dam is letting out water from a low Stampede Reservoir.
As mentioned earlier, most of my fly fishing career took place in Colorado. I can tell you that a typical angler here will not be repeating the often-heard Colorado refrain of “Bro, I had a 50 fish day on the river!” But they will be bringing in fish that rival or better the quality of any Colorado stream. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been shown the area by some phenomenal fishermen.
Truckee River Nevada Side
The Truckee River on the Nevada side was battered, beaten, and bloodied through the long, dry, hot summer. Some of the gauges on the Truckee River in Nevada showed temperatures up to 82 degrees. To put that in perspective, the optimum temperature for trout is 52-53 degrees. However, there are some hopeful signs, gleaned in a recent conversation with a NDOW fisheries biologist, Travis Hawks. During a recent boat shocking survey Travis stated that NDOW found trout at
every single sampling site that they surveyed all the way down to Derby Dam. He stated that the fish numbers were lower and the survey was an abbreviated version of the usual annual survey, but that the fishery appears to have survived in some form throughout the river. The fish sampled were in the upper size classes, 18”+ and he hopes that these fish will pull off a highly successful spawn which will pass on the genetics of these survivors.
Current and Future Conservation in the Area
This past year has been a great time for conservation. Trout Unlimited finished the Little Truckee Fish Habitat Improvement Project this last September and we have already seen fish utilizing the logs and boulders placed in the river from the crew at HRS (Habitat Restoration Sciences). All in all, there are more than 100 logs and 270 boulders that are providing habitat for the fish in the Little Truckee River.
With this project in the books, Trout Unlimited hopes to continue restoration work and create an environment in which we can further initiate and inspire new projects that directly benefit the streams and river in the Truckee watershed. We are excited to announce that we are in the planning phases of new restoration projects for the Truckee River, and we continue to seek input from anglers as these projects develop. For example, TRTU is excited to partner with the Truckee River Watershed Council and Tahoe City PUD on the construction of the Truckee River Streambank Stabilization Project. This project seeks to improve the habitat and stabilize stream-banks degraded by heavy recreation use on the first four miles of the Truckee River below Tahoe City, CA. Specifically, TRTU will purchase the fish habitat materials – boulders and trees – and provide construction oversight to ensure in stream structures are accurately placed during the 2016 construction.
All in all, the more care, thought, and planning that we put into the watershed together as a community of anglers, the more we are likely to see this area thrive. Thank you again to all you who watch over the river and stay up to date on the issues that loom in this watershed. I hope you are able to make the best of this season of fishing to come!
P.S. Check out the Restoration Video:
Sam Sedillo works for Trout Unlimited as the Sierra Cascades Field Coordinator out of the Truckee TU (TRTU) office, alongside the knowledgeable David Lass, the California Field Director of Trout Unlimited. He works on restoration projects, volunteer operations, fish sampling, and Trout Unlimited chapter outreach. He recently moved to Truckee from Colorado, where he completed his degree in Natural Resources Management and Fishery Biology. He’s spent the majority of his angling career there fishing for trout with tiny flies in tailwaters. This, to nobody’s surprise, prepared him for spending most of his days on the water in Truckee fishing for trout in tailwaters with tiny flies.