To most folks, Lake Tahoe is synonymous with things like skiing, mountain biking, gambling and golf. The majority of visitors to the basin don’t even consider fishing the big, blue lake…but they should!
Tahoe is an excellent cold water fishery that hosts robust populations of mackinaw, kokanee salmon, rainbow trout and browns. In the summer months, the action on macks and kokes is often fast and furious, yet not all that many people take advantage of the hot action. Last week, I took a morning away from general lounging and paddle boarding a the lake and hopped aboard Mike Nielsen’s (www.tahoetopliners.com) boat for a little morning action.
Nielsen is regarded as the top gun on Tahoe and it’s easy to see why. He routinely catches some of the biggest fish on the lake and his clients have set lake records for brown trout (see pix of his records HERE and HERE. Also: 29-lb. mackinaw Mike runs out of Tahoe Keys Marina on the South Shore and it was a nice trip down memory lane for me…in what seems like a couple of lifetimes ago, I ran a 6-pac charter out the same marina and it was fun to see the ol’ stomping grounds again.
One of the best things about fishing Tahoe is…just being out on the water in such an epically beautiful part of the world. Throw in a nice sunrise…and some willing biters and you’ve got something to remember!
Mike grew up on Tahoe and the guy seemingly knows every ledge, hump and other bottom feature on the lake. We started off jigging for mackinaw and every single spot he put us on was loaded with fish. The graph looked like this all morning long…
As with most places on planet earth, the average size of the mackinaw at Tahoe has dropped over the years. In the old days, the party boats routinely landed 20 pounders, with a nice average of 10 pounds (the lake record is 34 pounds, 4 ounces) and now the average size is more like 2-4 pounds. Still, there are plenty of good ones out there and it’s not inconceivable that a 50 pound laker lurks somewhere out in the cobalt depths. We didn’t hook any monsters, but there’s nothing wrong with fat macks like Mike’s client Joe Harrick (he chartered the boat for himself) landed that day!
But mackinaw are just part of the story this time of year! Along the south shore, kokanee amass in big numbers as they slowly start moving towards their eventual spawning grounds up Taylor Creek near Camp Richardson. Quick limits are often the rule from now through September. Kokanee used to get huge in Tahoe (the lake record is over 4 pounds) but the introduction of mysis shrimp back in the 1960′s changed all that. Now, the fish average 14 to 15 inches and sometimes top out at 18 or 19 inches. Nice, tasty fish for sure!
The cool thing about fishing the south shore this time of year is you can fish for both species simultaneously. Mike trolls spoons, minnows and plugs down deep on a couple lines and then has a couple others up high with kokanee gear on them. When the bite is on, it’s all he can do to keep all his gear in the water!
As is all too often the case when you are having a good time, we were limited out and headed in too soon…another beautiful and productive day on Tahoe was already over!
On the flip side, the good fishing and early exit means you still have plenty of time to go enjoy all the rest of what the area has to offer!
The funny thing about the day is Mike was disappointed. He felt that the fish didn’t bite as well as he had hoped, despite the fact that we had bites all morning long. Joe and I had a great time and it seemed to me that the fishing was just fine. Mike says the fish were acting a little funky on our trip but then, the very next day, things cranked up up to white-hot. Here are some text messages I’ve received since then from Mike:
To contact Mike:
On the web at www.tahoetopliners.com
Phone: (530) 721-0593