Truckee River and its Tributaries

The Truckee River is 121 mile-long river that runs from Lake Tahoe at Tahoe City, California to Pyramid Lake near Nixon, Nevada. Rainbow trout, brown trout, Lahontan cutthroat trout, bowcut/cutbow hybrids, and mountain whitefish can be found in the river. Of these, only the Lahontan and the whitefish are native to the fishery.

The Truckee River is known for regularly producing some big trout. It is fishable year-round. While most fishers choose to wade this water, it is also fishable from a drift boat, pontoon boat or raft. Shore fishing is possible in some areas. The Truckee River Recreation Map provides an activity guide to the river.

See Truckee River Basin Still Waters for still waters in this basin.

The Truckee River in California

The California sections of the Truckee River include:

  • upper section: Lake Tahoe to confluence of Trout Creek,

  • wild trout section: confluence of Trout Creek to confluence of Prosser Creek, and

  • lower section: confluence of Prosser Creek to the state line.

Upper Section

The upper section offers some soft meadow flows, plenty of riffles, and some nice pocket waters.

The meadow flows are popular with river rafters. They drift the river from just below Fanny Bridge at the outflow of Lake Tahoe down to the confluence of Bear Creek. Most of the rafters are gone in the late day, which is a great time to cast some flies. There's nice pocket waters above and below the confluence of Squaw Creek. This area, specially near the river side campgrounds, is well stocked with rainbows but also holds some wild browns.

From Tahoe City down to the town of Truckee, river access is provided by CA 89, also known as River Road, as it parallels the river. Silver Creek, Goose Meadow, Granite Flat campgrounds provide river side camping. In the town of Truckee, the river can be accessed off of West River Road and East River Road as they parallel the river on the north side of river. The Truckee River Regional Park in Truckee provides river access along the south bank of the river in the town of Truckee.

This section receives a lot of fishing pressure during the tourist season (memorial day weekend through labor day weekend) but is nearly deserted otherwise.

Excepting for the first 1000 feet of the Truckee River immediately below the Lake Tahoe outlet dam, which is closed to fishing year-round, the upper section falls under CA general fishing regulations.

Wild Trout Section

The wild trout section offers plenty of riffles and some deep holes with easy access and easy wading.

Glenshire Drive parallels the river on its north shore from the town of Truckee down to the Glenshire bridge. The Truckee River Legacy Trail, part of the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail, parallels the river on its south shore. Both provide river access throughout this section.

The wild trout section is a catch-and-release only water restricted to artificial flies with barbless hooks.

Lower Section

The lower section is known for its class 2-3 white water, being popular with rafters and kayakers who typically run the river from Boca bridge down to Floriston. This section has deep pools, treacherous wading conditions, and some really nice wild trout.

The lower section is paralleled by I-80 which provides access via its exits at Hirshdale, Floriston, and Farad, with additional access being provided by pull-outs along I-80.

The Truckee River in Nevada

The Nevada sections of the Truckee River include:

  • western section: the state line to Steamboat Creek,

  • eastern section: Steamboat Creek to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation boundary

  • reservation section: from Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation boundary to Pyramid Lake.

Western Section

As the river crosses the stateline, the river exits the Truckee River Canyon and enters the Truckee Meadows. The western section is located within the Reno-Spark metropolitan area, with urban parks along the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail providing public access. These include:

Truckee River at Mayberry Park in Reno

Eastern Section

The eastern section area is semi-rural with access primarily provided by public lands and conservancies. Access points include:

  • Larkin Circle off of Greg Street in Sparks,

  • the Lockwood Trailhead and Avenue of the Colors in Lockwood,

  • the Mustang Ranch Trailhead at Mustang Road in Mustang,

  • the McCarran Ranch Trailhead off of Wild Horse Canyon Drive at Patrick, and

  • the 102 Ranch Trailhead off of USA Parkway at Clark.

The Mustang, McCarran Ranch, and 102 Ranch trailheads provide access to trails of the Nature Conservancy's McCarran Ranch Preserve. The preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk.

Reservation Section

The portion of the Truckee within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation is regulated by the tribe. It is closed to fishing year-round.

Tributaries of the Truckee River

Lake Tahoe Tributaries

Many of the tributaries of the Lake Tahoe offer good fly fishing. These include:

Upper Truckee Riverrainbow trout, brook rout, and Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT) can be found in the Upper Truckee River. During the spring, large rainbows come up from Lake Tahoe to spawn. LCTs can be found in the upper portions.

Taylor Creek is the outlet stream of Fallen Leaf Lake. The creek typically has nice runs of spawning kokanee in the fall, but you can also find rainbows and browns in the creek. The creek can be accessed from the US Forest Service Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Fallen Leaf Campground, and Cathedral Road, all off of Emerald Bay Road (CA 89).

Glen Alpine Creek, an inlet stream of Fallen Leaf Lake, offers brookie, rainbow, and brown trout fishing above the Glen Alpine trailhead at Lily Lake. Lahontan cutthroats can be found below Glen Alpine Falls.

Kokanee at Taylor Creek. Photo by Lisa Herron, USFS.

Little Truckee River and its tributaries

The Little Truckee River section between Stampede and Boca reservoirs is a wild trout water holding some nice rainbow and brown trout and, in the fall, spawning kokanee salmon. The upper section (between Weber and Stampede reservoirs) is stocked in campground areas with rainbows. Browns may also be found in this section. Accessed off of CA 89 and Henness Pass Road.

Independence Creek and Perazzo Creek, two tributaries of the upper section of Little Truckee River, can offer good fishing. Also check out Sagehen Creek.

Steamboat Creek tributaries

Steamboat Creek is the outlet creek of Washoe Lake. Its confluence with the Truckee River is just east of Reno. While Steamboat Creek is not worthy of your time, some of the streams in the drainage do offer good fly fishing opportunities.

Galena Creek offers brookie and rainbow trout. The creek runs through Galena Creek Regional Park. There are a number of other creeks in area you might also check out.

Ophir Creek is a tributary of Washoe Lake. From its headwaters at Tahoe Meadows it runs east to Washoe Valley, where it crosses Old US 395 and I-580 between Davis Creek Regional Park and Bowers Mansion Regional Park. It can be accessed using Ophir Creek Trail at the Tahoe Meadows South Trailhead (off of Mount Rose Highway) or the Ophir Creek Trailhead at Davis Creek Pond in the Davis Creek Regional Park.

Franktown Creek is the outlet stream of Hobart Creek Reservoir. It drains into Washoe Lake. It offers mostly brookies, but tiger trout can occasionally be found near the reservoir.

Other notable tributaries of the Truckee River

Donner Creek, which runs through Donner Lake to the Truckee River in the town of Truckee, offers some nice fly fishing. Cold Creek, a tributary of the Donner Creek, is fishable as well.

Martis Creek, located just east of Truckee, offers nice fly fishing opportunities both above and below Martis Lake.

Prosser Creek offers some nice fly fishing between Prosser Reservoir and the creek's confluence with the Truckee River.

Bear, Squaw, Pole, Deep, and Cabin creeks are small streams that drain into the Truckee River between the Tahoe City and Truckee and are fishable.

This article was authored by Kurt Zeilenga. If you have suggestions on how to improve this article, you may contact Kurt at

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