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Anglers take to Lake Tahoe’s ice for winter fishing

6th November 2008 Print
Lake Tahoe may be the main attraction and jewel of the Sierra Nevada, but it’s the region’s smaller lakes and reservoirs that are seeing more visitors, as the sport of ice fishing quickly becomes a Sierra staple.

Ice fishing is the latest trend reeling in locals and travelers alike and while it may be new to most winter sport enthusiasts, its long history suggests a certain staying power. While popular for decades in Alaska and the Midwest, the crowds of new and experienced anglers at watering holes outside Lake Tahoe are undoubtedly growing.

Mountain Hardware in Truckee directs ice fisherman to nearby Boca, Stampede and Prosser Reservoirs, as well as Donner Lake and also assists with maps and directions to the numerous smaller lakes in the area off Highway 89. Mother Nature dictates when ice fishing begins, usually anytime from late November to early January.

“Some days you can see 30 or 50 people out there,” Assistant Manager Tom Brochu, of Mountain Hardware, said. “It’s really a social activity.”

According to Doug Busey, a long-time fisherman and outdoor writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, ice fishing is a fairly easy sport to take on. Essentially all that’s needed is a bucket or sled to carry gear, an auger to cut a hole in the ice, a regular or specialized fishing pole, a towel and some night crawlers. A fishing license is also required.

“I find it’s just an enjoyable way to pass the day,” Busey said. “You don’t need to get their too early and you can just drop your line, sit back, have a sandwich and enjoy the day. The cold doesn’t even really seem to be an issue. Most days when the sun in shining you can just be out there in a flannel and jeans.”

Busey began spearheading an informal gathering for ice fishing (for new and experienced fisherman) several years ago. It started with him and three other locals, but now there can be as many as 50 people of all ages joining him. The date of the annual event varies, but Busey gets the word out via the Tribune and word of mouth.

The amount of ice required to begin fishing varies from four to eight inches, depending upon whom you talk to. Busey waits for 12 inches before planning his annual group outing and can often be found at Caples or Red Lake off Highway 88 outside of Kirkwood. Blue Lake is another popular spot, but is accessible only by snowmobile.

Brochu notes that safety is always an issue. He’s never without a rope and cautions about ice shifts.

While there are no formal lessons or group excursions, Mountain Hardware has a plethora of information on hand and sells augers and fishing equipment, and supplies detailed maps of the area and updated fishing reports. Busey is also always willing to answer questions and offer insight into ice fishing. He publishes up-to-date information about regulations, conditions, what’s open and what’s closed in his Tribune column.

“It’s really just a neat way to go fishing and pass the day,” Busey said. Mountain Hardware is located at 11320 Donner Pass Road in Truckee and can be reached at 530-587-4844. Doug Busey can be reached on his “Naw” line at 775-267-9722 throughout the year.

North Lake Tahoe is a 45-minute drive from the Reno Tahoe International Airport, two hours from Sacramento International Airport and just over three hours from San Francisco International Airport. For lodging reservations, recreation and event details, visit Visitor information centers are located at 380 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City and 969 Tahoe Boulevard in Incline Village.

The North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureaus, Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, work together to promote North Lake Tahoe as a premier, year-round destination.