Tag: truckee river

River Update – Guest Blogger: Sam Sedillo


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. 


River Update – Guest Blogger: Dan Lecount

Where should I fish if the Truckee needs a summer break?

In these drought years in the west, the options for the fly angler are going to be much more limited then normal. In north Lake Tahoe, the Truckee river and its tributaries are going to get really low this summer, probably to the point of being un­fishable for some of the summer and beyond, with fish kills being a very possible scenario. It’s going to be a tough year for the watershed.

Keep Perspective

Now it’s not all doom and gloom. This has happened before and it will happen again. If we don’t blow up the planet or something similar, we should have wet years again, albeit probably warmer if current trends continue. She will recover, although the river will need as much help as possible from folks like you. If you have the time, try volunteering with a local conservation group like Trout Unlimited or the Truckee River Watershed Council. People will be needed for fish rescues and this low water makes many of the long term habitat projects easier to accomplish. If you end up volunteering, you can maybe convert that unused fishing energy into an energy protecting the river you love. It feels great and really deepens your connection to your local watershed. It’s been a great outlet for me, and as an angler and guide that derives so much joy from these waters, I feel obligated.



Fish rescue last year below Boca reservoir. Photo credit – Stefan McLeod.


Now that my conservation sales pitch is over, (we really could use you) let’s talk about fishing. There’s still a lot of amazing fly fishing to be had this summer. Like Brian Johnson said last week, the warm-water fishing in Tahoe can be great. I’m totally expecting to see a lot of folks this summer in the places that I used to carp and bass fish all by myself. I think I’ll survive, although the years of fishing without seeing a soul have been oh so nice.



My buddy Keith Tucker with a giant mirror carp on the fly. A day when Dave Stanley and I took him out a few years back for his first time, he reeled this in. What a lucky bastard.


Get Up and Get Up

Besides the warm-water fishing, another important option for anglers are the high alpine lakes. In the Tahoe area, in around an hour or so drive from Truckee, there’s literally hundreds of lakes you can drive to, or at least get to the trail head to. In a low water year like this, many of those lakes are already accessible, when in most years, many of them you couldn’t get to until July or August because of snowfall. For an added bonus, less water can also mean a lot less mosquitoes and black flies in many of those areas. That’s great news for me, since they seem to prefer my flavor for some reason.


A Silver Lining

Personally I think this years conditions, might be a blessing in disguise for a lot of people. A good excuse to explore instead of falling back on “old reliable.” I appreciate the Truckee and how nice it is to drive up to the water after work, start fishing and in five minutes have a shot at a 2 foot brown. It’s a remarkable place in that regard, but this year she’s going to need as much help as possible, and we as anglers should probably give her as many breaks as possible. There’s hundreds of places to see and fly fish just a short drive away. Now that’s a lot of exploring and fly fishing you can do if you’re willing to lace up the boots and do a little work. I don’t know about you, but exploration of the natural world is a big part of what brought me into fly fishing.

Now fly fishing means something different to everyone, so please don’t feel like I’m trying to tell you how to enjoy yourself. We all find value in it, in our own way. I realize some folks prefer rivers to lakes or reservoirs. Whether its the active nature of moving through a river, the intimacy of the environment or the dynamics of the currents. I get it, rivers have something different. Still, if you’ve ever fished a little backcountry pond, they have a lot of those same qualities, sometimes even in greater quantity. Many of them also have some very nice fish if you put in your time.


My old blue Outcast float tube and a gorgeous backcountry Lahontan.


Desolation Wilderness, Donner Summit, and the Lakes Basin

When I first moved to Tahoe maybe 15 years ago, I went through a phase of heavy exploration of the lakes within a few hours. I fished dozens of lakes, from shore, with boats and especially with a little blue float tube I purchased way back when. In reality, I hardly scratched the surface in terms of the fishing. There is so much water if you were willing to drive or hike. I found browns, goldens, cutties, brooks, bows and even some hybrids. Besides trout, I also found smallmouth bass, I even got to catch some catfish on the fly. It really is endless. A great resource for backcountry water is “Fly Fishing the Tahoe Region” by Stephen Rider Haggard. Also anglers with a taste for the backcountry like Ralph and Lisa Cutter, Jim Landis or to a lesser extent myself, are worth talking to.

Fishing + random 044
My buddy Mike Terepka with a high Sierra golden. This was an amazing day of fishing, amidst a month long fly fishing trip we made around the west.

We’re not going to give you GPS coordinates of something special we worked hard for and explored to get to, because we want it to be just as special for you. Still, you might be able to get some nuggets of California (or Nevada) gold, if you word it right. I hope you take advantage of this blessing in disguise, explore the water and explore what fly fishing means to yourself.

Take care and good luck.

Dan LeCount is a fly fishing guide in the Truckee area with a passion for the natural world. Dan is also a contract fly designer with Umpqua Feather Merchants, a rod builder, published author, photographer and artist.  He has worked in the fly fishing industry for almost 17 years and is a 4th generation fly fisher. He can also freestyle like a madman if you get him drunk enough. 



River Update – Guest Blogger: Brian Johnson

This is the first in a mini-series of guest blogs coming from respected and experienced local river enthusiasts.  Our hope is that these insights would be helpful in not just informing the public but also reminding all of us to protect the treasure that is the Truckee River.

Current State of the Truckee

This is is the third (or is it fourth?) year of a drought being experienced here in the Western United states.  Last year was among the three worst years for precipitation since we started tracking it in 1895 and — despite better than average precipitation this year– the Sierras experienced the lowest measured snowpack since 1950. To obtain a further sense of severity, consider that the US Department of Agriculture has declared all counties in both Nevada and California to be in a Drought Emergency, the Governor of California has declared a state of emergency and has mandated a 25% water reduction, and our primary water supplier here in Washoe county (TMWA) will be tapping into drought reserves that haven’t been utilized in 20 years.  And, as most of you know, the majority of our water comes from our beloved fishery: the Truckee river.


Division 1 Precipitation – 1895 to 2015 via NOAA.gov
Snowpack in the Sierras

To put it very simply:  the Truckee river, as a fishery, is in trouble.  Last year the river got down to dismal levels of flow during the hottest months of the year (In Reno we saw 14 cfs in a river that normally runs 200-500 cfs during the same time period) and this summer will bring similar conditions.  In “normal” years the Truckee river is supplied with ample water for recreation, domestic, and agricultural use from Boca Reservoir, Stampede Reservoir, and storage in Lake Tahoe.  The last I checked, Boca is at about 15% of capacity, Stampede is just over 13%, and the California Department of Fish & Game partnered with Trout Unlimited Truckee 103 to relocate the famous fanny bridge trout since water is no longer available from Lake Tahoe.


Boca Reservoir – May 2015
Stampede Reservoir (and my daughter) – May 2015

All that to say we are already seeing extremely low flows on the Truckee river and should expect it to continue (and worsen) throughout the summer.  If there is any upside to this, it’s that the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) has been conservative in their drought preparation with 9 years of drought reserves in several reservoirs and underground reserves.  That said, it is my understanding that TMWA will release water from their drought reserves for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses (including supplying their own power generation plants) but there is no guarantee that recreation or wildlife will be considered in these releases.


2015 truckee
2015 to date. Awful. For comparison the Truckee ran 300-600 cfs average during the same time period in 2012.
Truckee River through Reno on 5/14/2015, pardon the iphone capture

So What Can We Do?

Last year the fishing community and river users showed unprecedented support for a voluntary hoot owl closure on the Truckee river.  This year it is imperative we do the same.Read more

Send In Your Pictures


Photo courtesy of the Nevada Department of Wildlife


We’d love to keep updated information about the river conditions.  If you take pictures of any stretch of the Truckee River, send your pictures in over at the contact page. We’ll post them here for all to see what’s going on, and not just hear about it.

We’re hoping to see some precipitation in the next week.  In the mean time, hike the river with a garbage bag and make a dent in pushing back years of abuse.  Thank you to those of you who have already chipped in.  Your time hauling out plastic means more than any blog post or trophy shot.  See you out there!



Water temps are up on the Truckee River


Everyone who lives near the Truckee River knows water is down and temps are up.  So what?

Well, the word is out that the ol’ watermaster will be dropping flows on the Truckee River real soon.  The wildlife of the Truckee are a hardy bunch, but flows below 100 CFS as expected will be devastating for the trout.

We’re asking that all you who fish the river would join us in a voluntary “Hoot Owl Closure”.  For the months of July and August, get off the river before noon strikes, and avoid fishing in the afternoons and evenings.  The collective effort of even 100 of us banding together to protect the  treasure we have in our backyard can make a huge difference.  Watch this video for more information.


A Proposed Hoot Owl Closure on the Truckee River from Catch, Snap, & Release on Vimeo.


Will you join us? 
Tell the world you’ll support the trout of the Truckee River by simply commenting here, and we’ll shoot you a free TRK bumper sticker and put you in the monthly drawing for a free hat.