Fly Fishing the East Carson River

If you are looking to catch a variety of trout species on a fly rod in beautiful surroundings and within striking distance of the Truckee or Lake Tahoe area, then the East Carson River may be just the ticket.

The E.C. as locals call it is a classic freestone stream with rainbows and browns.The E.C. as locals call it is a classic freestone stream with rainbows and browns.

The River – The East Carson River south of South Lake Tahoe near the town of Markleeville is one of the longest rivers un-impeded by dams in the Sierra Nevada range. We focus our fishing efforts in the Wild and Scenic section of river below Hangman’s bridge down to the Nevada state line.

A successful young angler.A successful young angler.

The East Carson river contains all of the classic trout holding water you would expect from a true freestone river. Deep pools, long riffles, under cut banks, fast chutes and miles of pocket water are set to the picturesque Eastern Sierra backdrop. All of this variety of river structure allows us to employ all types of fly fishing techniques to fool the wild trout that call this special river home. In addition the East Carson has a very healthy population of insects including stoneflies. The fish here like big bugs and unlike many Northern California streams where tiny flies are the rule, we fish large dry flies more often than not.

Dry fly fishing for hard fighting wild rainbows and browns in the Mountains of California...what more could you want!

Reservations and Rates

If you would like to learn more... keep reading or Call(530)242-4122 or (707)287-2939 for current fishing reports, river conditions and information on experiencing enjoyable and memorable fly fishing for yourself. Dates fill up quickly for many of our offerings so don't delay. You may also email us at, or fill out our Online Trip Request Form.

The cost of the full-day East Carson guided package is:
• $450 per day (Package deal, include rods, reels, flies, as well as boots and waders 1-2 anglers per guide)

The cost of the half-day Lower Sacramento River guided package is:
• $350 per day (1-2 anglers per guide including flies, tackle, equipment along with boots and waders)

The Species – Rainbow trout make up the majority of the fish population. There are a mix of wild and hatchery trout in the Carson though wild fish outnumber their hatchery counterparts. Rainbows are stocked around Hangman's Bridge, so if it is wild bows your after a little hiking will increase the number of wild fish caught.

The East Carson is home to some handsome rainbow trout.The East Carson is home to some handsome rainbow trout.

Brown trout do inhabit this section of river but not nearly in the same numbers as rainbows. There is also a healthy population of mountain whitefish too. Some pushing 20”. Most of the trout are in the 10”-16” range but bigger fish 20”+ are always a possibility. Over the years we have seen and hooked fish of truly epic proportions, these fish have survived and grown to amazing size for a reason. They are wily and hard to put in the net. Maybe you’ll be the lucky one and leave with the memory of a real trophy East Carson fish burned indelibly in your mind.

A nice example of an E.C. brown.A nice example of an E.C. brown.

The Seasons – The East Carson river below hangman’s bridge is open year round. It is strictly catch and release fishing. No bait or barbs. Flies and artificial lures only.

Spring (Pre runoff)- As the water starts to warm the season starts off with fish eating streamers and looking up for Skwalas in the softer water. Fishing in the warmest part of the day will give the water a chance to warm up and get the bugs going too. Nymphing in the deep pools will also produce fish.

(Peak run-off) - The East Carson turns brown during peak run off. Because the river has no dams it takes a little longer to start clearing Post run-off as the river turns green and starts to drop the streamer fishing is off the charts. Be carful trying to cross at flows above 400cfs. Pick a side of the river and fish the runs that are accessible.

Summer - Early July is when this river really starts to come into shape. Golden stones are hatching and the fish are looking up for them. A really good approach this time year is to fish through with a dry dropper setup first then come back through and “clean up” with a tight line rig. In the middle of summer the river fishes best early and late in the day.

Fall - With water and air temps dropping and days getting shorter the fish start gorging themselves before winter. Fish will still be looking up for the last of the late summer hoppers and stoneflies. October Caddis are a favorite and fish will aggressively take them when skated in the riffles. With cooler water temps fish will see fish feeding throughout the day.

Winter - During mild/warm winters the East Carson can be a great way to break up a ski vacation in Tahoe. Fish will hold in the deeper slower water this time of year. Stones, beatis, worms and midges will all produce fish. Slowly swinging a streamer in the tail outs of deep pools will get some big grabs. Fish during the warmest part of the day for the best results. The East Carson has a lot of hot springs along tie river. The trout will congregate near these springs in the winter.

Accommodations – South Lake Tahoe just 30 minutes away has a variety of accommodations to meet any budget from small cabins to luxury resorts.

Directions - Markleeville California
From South Lake Tahoe: take Hwy 50/88/89 south Left on Luther pass road Hwy 88/89. Turn left at stop sign at Pickett’s Junction Hwy 88/89. Go right to stay on Hwy 89 and follow signs to Markleeville.

Booking a guide on the East Carson River.

To book a guide during business hours please contact us at (530)242-04122. After hours or weekends we can often be reached at (707)287-2939, via email us at or if you prefer you may fill out our online trip request.

We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have, confirm availability on the spot most of the time and get you booked with no headache. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and working together to create a memorable, productive and rewarding fly fishing experience for you.

© 2008 - 2011 Off the Hook Fly Fishing Travel

11427 Angler Ave. Whitmore Ca California 96096 | 1.707.287.2939 - Cell 1.530.242.4122 - Office |