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Fishing in Placer County

The reservoirs, streams, lakes and rivers that dot and crisscross Placer County have proven a haven for anglers during the fall, winter, spring and summer.   Placer County encompasses a large geographic area that stretches from the mountains in the east to the grasslands in the west, with no shortage of fishing in the lakes, streams, rivers and reservoirs in between.

Lake Tahoe, with its abundant stock of Mackinaw, Brown and Rainbow trout, anchors the County's eastern boundary and is surrounded by the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, which are home to countless pristine mountain lakes and streams that provide increased opportunities for intrepid anglers.  These lakes and streams, including the popular Truckee River, are teeming with trout and allow anglers to choose between a day of quiet solitude on an alpine lake or the exhilarating rush of the river while fly fishing.  There are also reservoirs at lower elevations, namely Sugar Pine, Hell Hole and French Meadows, which contain native Brown trout and planted Rainbow trout.

If something other than trout is on the menu, anglers can head out to one of the many other lakes or streams in the central part of the County, including Folsom Lake for catfish and bass and the North Fork of the American River and Lake Clementine for bass.

Anglers who are inclined to do their homework ahead of time will likely be rewarded with a satisfying day and some big catches.  For those who haven't the time or the desire to study up before they cast their reels, guided fishing trips are available.  For regulations to determine specific guidelines for each body of water, all anglers should check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1416 9th Street, 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916 445-0411, email:

Compiled by local anglers and avid fishermen, below is a list of favorite fishing lakes and rivers in the Placer County area.  We would like to thank Diane and Jake Dirksen, authors of "Recreation Lakes of California," for allowing us to share their information on these lakes.

Lakes, Rivers, & Major Fishing Sites

(Information on the Lakes given courtesy of and with permission from Diane & Jake Dirksen, Authors of "Recreation Lakes of California," 15th Ed.  Complete book (including maps) available for purchase through their website or at the Placer County Visitors Bureau, Auburn, CA) 

Camp Far West Lake

  • Fishing: Florida Largemouth, Black, Striped and Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, and Catfish
  • Boating: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Waterski, PWCs, Windsurf, & Inflatables; 2 Launch Ramps
  • Hazards:  Submerged obstacles & rocks; fluctuating water levels
  • Other Information:  Elevation 320'; 2,000 acres water surface area with 29 miles shoreline; 800 acres camping, hiking, biking, equestrian trails; open year 'round
  • Camp Far West, 8176 Camp Far West Road, Wheatland, CA 95692; 530 633-0803
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Lake Clementine

  • Fishing: Rainbow, Brook and Brown Trout, Large and Smallmouth Bass, Carp and Catfish
  • Boating: 40 MPH Speed Limit; Boat Ramp (Parking Fee); Limited and Primitive Boat-In Camping; Steep, Winding Road off Foresthill Road to access
  • Other Information: No dogs allowed; lake is 3½ miles long portion of the North Fork of the American River
  • Maintained by Auburn State Recreation Area, 501 El Dorado Street (Highway 49), Auburn, CA 95603; 530 885-4527
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Donner Lake

  • Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Mackinaw, Kokanee Salmon
  • Boating: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Waterski, PWCs, Windsurf, Inflatables; No Launching from State Park; No Access from South Shore and part of North Shore; Public Launch Ramp at West End; Rentals: Fishing, Pontoon and Paddleboats
  • Other Information: Elevation 5,963'; located in Tahoe National Forest off I-80, west of Truckee; Lake is 3 miles long, ¾ mile wide, shoreline 7½ miles of high alpine woods; 150 campsites
  • Hazards: Water is very clear and cold; afternoon winds can be hazardous
  • Maintained by Donner Memorial State Park, 12593 Donner Pass Road. Truckee, CA 96161; 530 582-7892
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Folsom Lake

  • Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Catfish, Bluegill, Large and Smallmouth Bass and Perch
  • Boating: All boats must register at Granite Bay or Browns Ravine; Open to all boating; Full Service Marina (916 933-1300); 10 launch ramps (check water levels); Low Water Hazards; Boat Use Fees; Docks, Berths, Dry Storage & Gas; Boat Camping Areas; Rentals: Fishing, Waterski & Patio Boats, PWCs
  • Other Information: 11,930 surface acres; 75 miles of shoreline; many campsites, several campgrounds plus picnic areas and swim beaches; full service marina
  • Maintained by Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, 7806 Folsom-Auburn Road, Folsom, CA 95630;  916 988-0205
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French Meadows Reservoir

  • Fishing: Rainbow and Brown Trout
  • Boating: Open to all boats; 2 launch ramps; nearest supplies and facilities 39 miles in Foresthill; 12 Boat- or Walk-In Campsites
  • Other Information:  Elevation 5,200', on western slope of the Sierra Nevada; 1,920 surface acres; many campsites plus picnic areas and swim beaches
  • Hazards:  Speed Boats and Waterskiing not advised due to submerged hazards; low water levels toward end of summer
  • Maintained by Tahoe Forest Service, 22830 Foresthill Road, Foresthill, CA 95631; 530 367-2224
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Hell Hole Reservoir & Ralston Afterbay

  • Fishing: Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat and Kamloop Trout, Mackinaw, Kokanee Salmon
  • Boating Hell Hole: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Waterski and Inflatable; Launch Ramp; Caution - Afternoon winds can be hazardous; Cold, clear water; Seasonal water level fluctuations
  • Boating Ralston Afterbay: Located on the Middle Fork of the American River; Small Craft Only; Hand Launch; No campsites; No Services
  • Maintained by US Forest Service, Georgetown Ranger District, 7600 Wentworth Springs Road, Georgetown, CA 95634; 530 333-4312
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Kelly Lake and Lake Valley Reservoir

  • Fishing: Rainbow and Brown Trout, Catfish; Trout fishing is excellent at both lakes
  • Boating at Kelly Lake: Only small boats with no motors allowed; Low Water Levels in Late Summer; Day Use Only, with 5 picnic sites, tables and firepits
  • Boating at Lake Valley Reservoir: Fishing and Row Boats, Canoes, Kayaks, Sailboats and Inflatables; Launch Ramp; Speed Limit 10 MPH; 35 Developed Campsites for Tents and RVs to 40'; Steep shoreline with steady west wind - good sailing; 2 islands in lake
  • Maintained by PG&E Land Projects, 2730 Gateway Oaks Drive, Sacramento, CA 95833; 916 386-5164
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Kidd, Cascade, Long and Serene Lakes

  • Fishing: Trout, Catfish
  • Boating at All Lakes: No Motors allowed; Group Campground at Kidd Lake; Boat Rentals at Serene Lake
  • Other Information:  Elevation about 7,000'; several trails for hiking, backpacking and riding horseback
  • Maintained by PG&E Land Projects, 2730 Gateway Oaks Drive, Sacramento, CA 95833; 916 386-5164
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Martis Creek Lake

  • Fishing: Lahontan Cutthroat, Brown and Rainbow Trout (Artificial Lures and Flies Only); Barbless Hooks; Catch and Release Only.  California's first "Wild Trout Lake" 
  • Boating: No Gas or Electric Motor Powered Boats Allowed; Sail Row, Canoe, Kayak, and Inflatables; Non-Motorized Boats Only
  • Maintained by US Army Corps of Engineers; Contact: Park Ranger, P O Box 2344, Truckee, CA 96160; 530 587-8113
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Prosser Creek Reservoir

  • Fishing: Rainbow Trout
  • Boating: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Windsurf and Inflatables; Speed Limit 10 MPH; Launch Ramps; Powerboating and PWCs not allowed
  • Other Information:  Elevation 5,711'; 740 surface-acres; Low Water Levels late summer into fall
  • Maintained by US Forest Service, Truckee Ranger District, 10342 Highway 89 North, Truckee, CA 96161; 530 478-6257
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Rollins Lake

  • Fishing: Rainbow and Brown Trout, Small and Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Catfish and Sunfish
  • Boating: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Waterski, PWCs, Windsurfers; Full Service Marinas; Boat Gas Dock; 4 Launch Ramps; Rentals: Fishing Boats, Canoes, Paddle Boats; Houseboat Mooring; Boat Slips; Dry Storage
  • Other Information:  Elevation 2,100'; 840 surface acres, 26 miles wooded shoreline; water levels fluctuate
  • Four Privately Operated Campgrounds: Greenhorn 530 272-6100; Orchard Springs 530 346-2212; Long Ravine 530 346-6166; Peninsula 530 477-9413
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Sugar Pine and Big Reservoirs (also known as Morning Star Lake)

  • Fishing: Rainbow and Brown Trout, Black Bass, Bluegill and Perch; Fishing by Permit at Big Reservoir
  • Boating at Sugar Pine Reservoir: Open to All Boating; 10 MPH Speed Limit; Launch Ramp
  • Other Information:  Elevation 3,518', with 160 surface acres of water; Campgrounds accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40'
  • Sugar Pine is administered by US Forest Service, 22830 Foresthill Road, Foresthill, CA 95631; 530 367-2224
  • Boating at Big Reservoir: Open to Non-Powered Boating; Electric Motors Permitted; Dock.
  • Other Information:  Elevation 4,092'
  • Big Reservoir is operated by Morning Star Lake Resort at Big Reservoir, P O Box 119, Foresthill, CA 95631; 530 367-2129
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Lake Tahoe

  • Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Mackinaw and Salmon
  • Boating: All types of boating are allowed
  • Other Information:  Elevation 6,225'; Lake is 22 miles long, 12 miles wide, and 72 miles around; numerous camping, RVing, backpacking, hiking, biking, and many other outdoors activities available
  • Many entities administer, maintain, and serve the many recreational activities of Lake Tahoe
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Yuba, Bear, & American Rivers & their Forks & Tributaries

  • Fishing: Rainbow and Brown Trout, many self-sustaining populations; Steelhead, Salmon, Sturgeon, Shad, Stripers
  • Boating: Rivers are not conducive for any boats except for rafts and kayaks in some areas
  • Other Information: These rivers and their tributaries and forks wind through the Sierra for hundreds of miles; access locations are identified on many maps; camping, RVing, backpacking, hiking, biking, and other outdoors activities available along many of the rivers; check with the Forest Service for greater detail
  • Guided float and fly-fishing excursions available - see list on right side of this page
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Sawmill Lake

  • Fishing: Rainbow Trout - is reserved for catch - and -release flyfishing only.
  • Boating: No boats, take a float tube
  • Other Information: Elevation 7,200 feet, 10 acre reservoir limited to 4 rods at a time and reservations are required
  • Located at Northstar California Resort, 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, CA 96161; 530 541-8208
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Fishing Guides

Gold Country

Derek Hendrickson
Angler Management
Guided Fly Fishing
Foresthill, CA

(530) 906-8395

Michael J. Peckham
Meadow Vista, CA

(916) 764-0485
Salmon, Trout, Steelhead, Sturgeon, Shad, & Stripers

Rise Up Wild Trout & Whitewater
Middle Fork American River, CA

(530) 957-9148
(855) 974-7387
Catch and release wild trout

High Sierra

Captain Chris' Fishing Charters
Tahoe City, CA

(530) 583-4857
Year round charter fishing on Lake Tahoe for Mackinaw (Lake Trout) or Rainbow Trout

Chuck's Bait, Tackle and Guide Service
Kings Beach, CA

(530) 546-8425
Year round guide service

Johnson Tackle and Fly Fishing
Tahoma, CA

(530) 525-6575
Fly Fishing

Kingfish Guide Service
Tahoe City, CA

(530) 525-5360
Sport Fishing

Matt Heron Fly Fishing and School
Olympic Valley, CA

(518) 225-6587
Full and half day guided trips and
Fly Fishing School

Mickey's Big Mack Charters
Carnelian Bay, CA

(530) 546-4444
(800) 877-1462
Year round sport fishing charters
Catch Mackinaw, Rainbow and Browns

Obexer's General Store
Homewood, CA

(530) 525-7962

Reel Deal Sport Fishing
Tahoe City, CA

(530) 318-6272
Sport Fishing

Swigard's Hardware
Tahoe City, CA

(530) 583-3738
Fishing License

Tahoe City Marina
Tahoe City, CA

(530) 583-1039

Thy Rod & Staff/Cyberfly
Tahoe City, CA

(530) 578-7333
Fly Fishing in the Tahoe area

Tight Lines Guide Service
Lake Tahoe/Donner Lake, CA

(888) 975-0990
Boat and guide for fishing
the High Sierra Lakes