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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, 800 565-1458 or 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 & Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, & Catfish
  • Boating: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Waterski, PWCs, Windsurf, & Inflatables; 2 Launch Ramps
  • Hazards:  Submerged obstacles & rocks; fluctuating water levels
  • Other Information:  Elev. 320'; 2,000 acres water surface area w/ 29 mi. shoreline; 800 acres camping, hiking, biking, equestrian trails; open year 'round
  • Camp Far West, 8176 Camp Far West Rd., Wheatland 95692 - Ph: 530 633-0803
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Lake Clementine

  • Fishing: Rainbow, Brook & Brown Trout, Large & Smallmouth Bass, Carp & Catfish
  • Boating: 40 MPH Speed Limit; Boat Ramp (Parking Fee); Limited & Primitive Boat-In Camping; Steep, Winding Road off Foresthill Rd to access.
  • Other Information: No dogs allowed; lake is 3½ mi. long portion of the North Fork of the American River.
  • Maintained by Auburn State Recreation Area, 501 El Dorado St. (Hwy 49), Auburn 95603; Ph: 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 & Part of North Shore; Public Launch Ramp at West End; Rentals: Fishing, Pontoon, & Paddleboats
  • Other Information: Elev. 5,963'; located in Tahoe Nat'l Forest off I-80, W of Truckee; Lake is 3 mi. long, ¾ mi. wide, shoreline 7½ mi. of high alpine woods; 150 campsites
  • Hazards: Water is very clear & cold; afternoon winds can be hazardous.
  • Maintained by Donner Memorial State Park, 12593 Donner Pass Rd., Truckee 96161; Ph: 530 582-7892
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Folsom Lake

  • Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Catfish, Bluegill, Large & Smallmouth Bass & Perch
  • Boating: All boats must register at Granite Bay or Browns Ravine; Open to all boating; Full Service Marina (Ph: 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 mi. shoreline; many campsites, several campgrounds plus picnic areas and swim beaches; full service marina
  • Maintained by Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, 7806 Folsom-Auburn Rd, Folsom 95630; Ph: 916 988-0205
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French Meadows Reservoir

  • Fishing: Rainbow & 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:  Elev. 5,200', on western slope of the Sierra Nevada; 1,920 surface acres; many campsites plus picnic areas & 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 Rd, Foresthill 95631; Ph: 530 367-2224
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Hell Hole Reservoir & Ralston Afterbay

  • Fishing: Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat & Kamloop Trout, Mackinaw, Kokanee Salmon
  • Boating Hell Hole: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Waterski & 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 Rd, Georgetown 95634; Ph: 530 333-4312
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Kelly Lake and Lake Valley Reservoir

  • Fishing: Rainbow & 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 & firepits.
  • Boating at Lake Valley Reservoir: Fishing & Row Boats, Canoes, Kayaks, Sailboats & Inflatables; Launch Ramp; Speed Limit 10 MPH; 35 Developed Campsites for Tents & RVs to 40'; Steep shoreline with steady west wind = good sailing; 2 islands in lake.
  • Maintained by PG&E Land Projects, 2730 Gateway Oaks Dr, Sacramento 95833; Ph: 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:  Elev. about 7,000'; several trails for hiking, backpacking, & riding horseback.
  • Maintained by PG&E Land Projects, 2730 Gateway Oaks Dr, Sacramento 95833; Ph: 916 386-5164
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Martis Creek Lake

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

  • Fishing: Rainbow Trout
  • Boating: Power, Row, Canoe, Sail, Windsurf & Inflatables; Speed Limit 10 MPH; Launch Ramps; Powerboating & PWCs not allowed
  • Other Information:  Elev. 5,711'; 740 surface-acres; Low Water Levels late summer, into fall;
  • Maintained by US Forest Service, Truckee Ranger District, 10342 Highway 89 No., Truckee 96161; Ph: 530 478-6257
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Rollins Lake

  • Fishing: Rainbow & Brown Trout, Small & Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Catfish, & 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:  Elev. 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 & Brown Trout, Black Bass, Bluegill & Perch; Fishing by Permit at Big Reservoir.
  • Boating at Sugar Pine Reservoir: Open to All Boating; 10 MPH Speed Limit; Launch Ramp.
  • Other Information:  Elev. 3,518', with 160 surface acres of water; Campgrounds accommodate RVs & trailers up to 40'.
  • Sugar Pine is administered by US Forest Service, 22830 Foresthill Rd, Foresthill 95631; Ph: 530 367-2224
  • Boating at Big Reservoir: Open to Non-Powered Boating; Electric Motors Permitted; Dock.
  • Other Information:  Elev. 4,092'.
  • Big Reservoir is operated by Morning Star Lake Resort at Big Reservoir, P O Box 119, Foresthill 95631; Ph: 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:  Elev. 6,225'; Lake is 22 miles long, 12 miles wide, & 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 & 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 (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

Flyfishing School
Olympic Valley, CA

(530) 583-6300

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
Olympic Valley, CA

(518) 225-6587
Full and half day guided trips.

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

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