The Little Truckee: So Much Good Water, I Barely Scratched the Surface

It’s been a busy fall for me.

I have been collecting some fly-tying materials with my new, year-old bird dog. So, I haven’t made it out nearly as much as I want to the trout waters. Toss in some social obligations on key weekends, well, and, it just means I have been pitifully under-fishing.  Short days and cold mornings don’t make it any better either.

Which is why I was so grateful for a trip I was able to take earlier this fall. I presented research at the American Fisheries Society and Wildlife Society Joint Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada. It was a nerve wracking five days of great workshops, too-many-to-see talks on the latest research, and lots of networking.  By the end of the conference I was ready for a little solitude. I rented a car and headed for the mountains.

After consulting the local fly shop and getting my licenses, I made a beeline for the Little Truckee. It had been a long time since I had been out west and with a rod in hand, so, I was very excited.

I took one of the Truckee, CA, exits and found myself at Mountain Hardware & Sports for a map of the area; if you happen to be in the area, make sure to stop by, especially if you are camping or in need of fishing/camping gear.

I made it to the Little Truckee by 9 am and made it to the river after a hike across a mountain meadow. I was soaking in the western sun and breathing deeply the crisp air. The stream was beautiful, and I started off in search of good runs and holes.

Early on, I missed a Kokanee salmon, which run out of the Boca Reservoir. I couldn’t find another in the area I was in, so, I moved on. During the spawn, there are nice little signs up in known spawning areas, requesting that folks don’t fish that stretch for the sake of the fish. Not a bad idea, MassWildlife, if you are reading….

I couldn’t connect the rest of the morning, but the scenery was fantastic.


It was getting late, so, I took off to find a campsite in the Tahoe National Forest. A buddy had given me directions to a nice area to camp in a dispersed manner, but since I had only packed a carry-on, I could only fit a summer sleeping bag crammed in. I figured I might want a fire. With a burn-ban in place, that meant I would need a campground with dedicated fire-pits.

I found a site at the Boyington Mill Campground. It’s not much for a campground. Each site has a picnic table and firepit, and they aren’t particularly nicely distributed. But, it is inexpensive, and the Little Truckee runs right along it. So, it worked for me.

I ran into a couple other scientists who also had the same idea as me, but had driven in, so, they were much better prepared. I was envious of their sleeping pads. I ended up sleeping in the car wearing most of my layers and in the sleeping bag. It reached 28 °F that night!


After having shaken off the early morning frost and gotten a cup of coffee and breakfast, I made my way to a section of the Little Truckee. I was one of the first folks there that morning, and I would find out it would be the first of many. This section, just below the Stampede Reservoir, reminded me a lot of the Swift River: clear water, small bugs, intermittent hatches, and lots of pressured fish.

Just a nice pool on the Little Truckee near the beginning of night.

After working some intermittent risers for the entire morning, I was about to give up and walk away when I met Frank. Frank is one of the oldest guides in the area and super-nice. He gave me a crash course on the Little Truckee methodology of fishing the film.

After coaching me like Mr. Miyagi, I brought a nice rainbow to hand and lost another a little while later.  If you head that way, make sure to check out Frank’s blog and guide service! He was nice, and I really enjoyed his company and his willingness to help out a complete stranger tackle a project fish!

It was one of the most satisfying fish I have ever brought to net. Just for those folks out there that might see this, tiny CDC emergers in the film was the ticket.

It was another night of camping after a full day of fishing. But, I did get some pizza and beer in me to make the night comfier. But that’s for the next post.


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9 thoughts on “The Little Truckee: So Much Good Water, I Barely Scratched the Surface

  1. Consider it a great success just being there even if you didn’t catch a lot.
    I know what you mean about feathers. I have 10 lifetimes worth of grouse feathers from hunting.

    1. It was a wonderful experience. Not one I will forget soon! Trade you some pheasant for grouse or I would love some general suggestions for grousey areas around here! OR even better, be happy to find you in the woods sometime!

      1. Have pheasant but can send you some grouse. Need address. Jo should have my e-mail. Can’t say about here for grouse as all my hunting has been in Vermont but haven’t done it in quite a few years. Much of the population seemed to disappear with the rise of turkeys taking over habitat. Plus lost my “hunting cabin” when my parents had to move out of their house. Stick to the edges between woods and fields plus recently grown-in logged areas, apple trees, barberry, early growth.

    1. Sportsmen in general, and fly-fishers more specifically, have been super kind to me in my travels and journey through life and fishing/hunting. I try to give back as much as give and a little more!

    1. The title is super nerdy! It is from my phd research: “A Patch is Not a Population: Spatio-temporal Perspectives on Connectivity Dependent Processes”; in a nutshell I look at how organisms move across the landscape and how changes in location and across time impact growth of populations!

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