Tahoe’s native fish are making a return this summer.
The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex in Gardnerville, Nev., began stocking 100,000 catchable, Lahontan cutthroat trout into Lake Tahoe June 1 and will continue stocking throughout the summer as conditions allow.
The stocking is part of a multiagency and tribal cooperative effort to reintroduce the Tahoe Basin’s native trout species and expand recreational fishing opportunities to anglers. The partners involved are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (USDA LTBMU), Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.
The reintroduction of Lahontan cutthroat trout has biological and recreational importance as well as significant cultural value to the Washoe Tribe. As the original stewards of Lahontan cutthroat trout, the Washoe Tribe has been an important stakeholder and partner since the beginning of reintroduction in the Tahoe Basin. The tribe has always been supportive of the restoration projects within Washoe ancestral lands.
The fish will be stocked at various, publicly accessible locations in both the California and Nevada portions of the lake. Approximately 20 percent of the trout will be tagged to help biologists evaluate the success of the stocking effort along with the growth, survival, and distribution of the fish.
Anglers are required to follow all fishing regulations (see Sport Fishing Regulations below) and encouraged to report any tagged fish they catch by calling the phone number on the tag, (775) 861-6355. Over time, stocking will inform conservation and recreation strategies in the reintroduction of this native strain of the fish into its historic habitat.
Lahontan cutthroat trout have been stocked intermittently in Lake Tahoe since 2011, although in smaller numbers. They are the only trout native to the Tahoe Basin and the largest cutthroat trout species in the world. The fish being stocked are the Pilot Peak strain of the species, which is known for its fast growth rate and achieving exceptional size. The Pilot Peak strain is also found in Nevada’s Pyramid Lake, which attracts anglers from around the world hoping to catch one of the lake’s giant Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Lahontan cutthroat trout are listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Their original listing in 1970 predates the modern act itself, which was passed in 1973. The native trout eventually disappeared from Lake Tahoe due to overfishing, damage to spawning tributaries caused by pollution, logging, water diversions, and the introduction of nonnative species. Federal and state efforts are underway throughout the fish’s native range in California and Nevada to restore the species and its habitat.
While this summer’s stocking may inform future restoration efforts, it is an initiative to expand recreational trout fishing opportunities for the public, enhance the near-shore fishery, and to foster an appreciation for this iconic native species.
Sport Fishing Regulations
Anyone 16 years or older fishing anywhere in Lake Tahoe must possess either a valid California sport fishing license or a valid Nevada fishing license. Either state’s license is valid around the entire shore of Lake Tahoe. Anglers fishing the California portion of Lake Tahoe may fish year-round and are allowed a limit of five trout per day and a 10 trout possession limit (California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations, section 5.85).
Anglers fishing the Nevada portion of the lake may fish year-round and are allowed a limit of five total game fish species in possession (2022 Nevada Fishing Regulations, pages 44-45). Anglers are strongly advised to consult either the 2021-2022 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations (PDF)(opens in new tab) or the 2022 Nevada Fishing Regulations (PDF)(opens in new tab) for specific regulations for the Lake Tahoe portions of each state.