A Different Perspective on the Truckee River

Truckee River Float Fishing is no walk in the park. Set aside the challenging technical stretches of boulder-filled runs, one of the main issues is the lack of established put-ins and take-outs. 

Most of the places we float are dictated only by access. Highway pull-outs, and city parks or areas that can get you close to the water are in short supply. With that being the case we still have a great time floating the river and exploring this awesome resource from a whole different perspective.

Raft or Boat?

We operate a 13’ AIRE Whitewater Raft with an NRS Fishing Frame attached. The boat is outfitted with a sizable anchor and pully system as well as standing platforms and seats for both anglers. 

This setup is a 3 person arrangement with anglers on both the bow and the stern while one person rows in the middle. This boat is not light, we’re very happy when we can back the trailer up to the water and use the wench. Other options to float the river are in smaller 2-person rafts and are able to get in and out much more easily. 

The Truckee River is boulder filled and at times very shallow. Using an inflatable raft instead of a hard-sided drift boat allows us to bounce off rocks rather than scrape against them. It’s not uncommon to get stuck on a boulder and have to give the raft a good shove to get moving again. If this were to happen in let us say an aluminum boat we would be in serious trouble. Aluminum sticks to rocks pretty well and fiberglass is prone to cracking either of those is a less than ideal scenario. An inflatable raft is the best tool for the job on the Truckee River.

What Sections Do We Float on the truckee river?

There are three main areas we float while guiding on the Truckee River. One is on the California side of the river and two are on the Nevada side.
On the California side of the Truckee, we float from near the Floriston Exit down about 3 miles to a dirt pull-out of Interstate 80 just east of the Farad exit. This float can be fast if the water is moving more than 1000cfs. The top stretch of this float can be pretty boney at anything less than 600cfs. There’s a relatively short window where the river is flowing at ideal rates, however, we make it work by stopping along the way and focusing our fishing time in areas that we know to be productive.

There are many options for floating on the Nevada side of the Truckee River. One of them is the Mayberry Park to Wingfield Park stretch. This floats starts and finishes at well know popular parks in the Reno, Nevada area. We usually look for flows in the 500-600cfs range for this area. 

This west side of Reno is nice and relatively clean in comparison to the condition of the river after it crosses Highway 395 and into Sparks, Nevada. The river can fish surprisingly well through the city with solid populations of Brown and Rainbow Trout with a few Mountain Whitefish mixed in. Both the put-in and take-out require a bit of muscle and creativity on the part of the guide to get the raft in and out of the water in this area.


East of Reno and Sparks, Nevada is the small town of Lockwood, Nevada. There is a small river access trail system and boat launch area there. Putting in here and floating down to an area just past the Mustang exit is the third stretch of the river that we’ll float while guiding. This Float has 4wd access to the water at both the put-in and take-out, making this one of the most accessible floats we run. At this point, the river runs through a purely desert environment weaving its way toward Pyramid Lake. We can float this area in a variety of flow conditions ranging from around 400-1000+cfs.

Floating and Fishing Past Reno Nevada

The fishing out here can be good at times, especially in the winter months when we see a consistent Blue Winged Olive hatch with rising fish on the regular. Being that this area is in the desert one of the main concerns on average or below average water years is the water temperature. It can reach temperatures that exceed the recommended fishing range very quickly in mid-summer. 

One thing about this area that is a bummer is the amount of trash in and alongside the river. It’s unavoidable that some trash would make its way into the river is that it has just passed through Reno and Sparks. Neither city takes especially great care to prevent these occurrences and there are a few major contributors to this issue. One is the fact that the waste transfer station backs up to the river and the other is the communities of unhoused people along the bank. 

As surprising as it may be the fishing in this section of the river along with other areas in the desert portion of the Truckee River fish well and hold healthy populations of both Brown and Rainbow Trout with some Common Carp mixed in too. An underrated fishery to say the least.
Truckee River Float