Independence Lake-Sierra Tahoe

Independence Lake

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Independence Lake
Suggested Flies for Independence Lake:
Sierra Tahoe Hatch Selection

Parachute Adams, #12-16
Stimulator, #12-16
Loopwing Parachute, #16-18
Hackle Stacker, #16-18
Brooks' Sprout, #16-18

Hares Ear #14-18
A.P. Nymph #10-16
BH Copper John, #14-18
Pheasant Tail Nymph #14-18
Fox's poopa (tan, olive)
Pulsating Caddis
Peeking Caddis (#12-16)

Woolly Bugger #4-10
Crystal Buggers #4-10
Clouser Minnow #4-10
Marabou Muddler #4-10

Dave's hopper
Parachute Hopper
Bullet Head Hopper (#12-14)


Independence Lake Directions

From Truckee, take Highway 89 for 21 miles to Little Truckee Summit. Take a left on Fibreboard Road (Road 7) and proceed west for 1.5 miles. Turn left at Independence Lake Road . A sign says “Independence Lake — 5 miles.”The surface becomes a rough dirt road, and it’s advisable to attempt it in a vehicle with high clearance. After about 2 miles, you reach a fork in the road and a sign that says “Independence Lake — 3 miles.” Take the right fork of the road. After about half a mile, there is another fork. Follow the left fork across a stream. If you do not drive across a stream soon after taking this left fork, you have made a wrong turn. Continue along this road, heading roughly southward. Follow the signs to the parking area.and go 4 miles to the parking area of the lake.

Independence Lake (6,952 feet elev)Independence Lake
This is an historical fishery for Lahontan Cutthroats. Kokanee Salmon were introduced in 1955 and continue to be a dominant fish within the lake as well as Brookies. Browns used to reside within the lake but have not spawned in over sixteen years and are believed to be gone from the lake. Independence Lake was actually two natural lakes, known as Loon Lakes, that became one when a dam was built in 1945. Augustus Moore wass the first euro-American to settle this area in 1860 when he built a stage stop on nearby Henness Pass Road for the influx of gold miners. A dam was built in 1879 to increase the storage of the lake to 3000 acre-feet. Sierra Pacific Power Company purchased the watershed in 1937 and enlarged the dam in 1939 to it's present size, increasing the storage of the lake to 17,500 acre-feet and making two lakes into one. The moraine that existed between the two lakes is now 15 feet underwater. The lake is 2.4 miles long and half mile wide with a maximum depth of 145 feet. The watershed surrounding the lake was destined for development by both Disney Corp and others until 2008 when The Nature Conservancy signed an agreement with Sierra Pacific Power to purchase the watershed for legacy protection. The lake and dam were deeded to Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) in 2001 by Sierra Pacific. The Nature Conservancy partners with Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) to manage the watershed and the lake continues to be water storage for TMWA, who supplies the municipalities of Sparks and Reno.

Lahontan Cutthroats (LCT) used to dominate the Truckee and Lahontan Basin for over 10,000 years, with some fossil remains showing an existance up to 600,000 years. As the climate warmed up, the great basin lake, Lake Lahontan, receeded and the remants of that lake remain within Walker Lake, Pyramid Lake, and Summit Lake in Nevada. The Lahontans adapted to the changes by becoming more tolerant of alkalyne conditions within the lakes but still required clean flowing water for spawning. Dams removed many spawning areas and rainbow introductions hybridized many of the LCT populations. The Lahontans were heavily harvested between 1860 and 1920 by settlers and miners. By 1930, the Lahontans were extinct from Lake Tahoe and by 1943, extinct from Pyramid Lake. Only two lakes still have their original populations of Lahontan Cutthroats, Independence Lake and Summit Lake in Nevada. Independence Lake had glacial activity 10,000 to 60,000 years ago, so this population of Lahontans has been present at Independence Lake for the last 10,000 years. The dam, built in 1879, actually helped to preserve the LCT within Independence Lake from upstream migration of invasive fish. An additional fish barrier was built in 2011 below the spillway. The LCT within Independence Lake have been at risk over the last 50 years due to spawning habitat degradation and invasive fish species. Historically, the spawning runs have been 2,000 to 3,000 fish but by 1960, less than 100 fish spawned in Independence Creek and CDF supplemented the lake with hatchery-grown LCT. The population of LCT continue to decline within the lake as only 40 to 237 fish have spawned naturally over recent years. The population decline of LCT is thought to be the competition of the Kokanee Salmon within the lake and the competitiion of Brook Trout within the stream. Additionally, a sand/silt delta has formed at the inlet mouth effectively blocking spawning runs when the lake is less than 7,500 acre-feet.

CDFW has taken measures to assist the LCT by removal of Brook Trout from the spawning stream and dewatering the redd beds along the shores of the lake. The lake usually fills from April through June and releases are generally equal to inflow until August. To achieve adequate spawning for the LCT, the lake needs to be at it's maximum level by May 15th. From August to November, lake levels need to remain high for the Kokanee Redds and by Dec 1st the lake is drawn by 3-5 feet to dewater the redd beds. If the lake falls below 7,500 acre-feet, TMWA is obligated to create a fish channel through the delta to allow access for LCT spawning.

These measures seem to be having a positive effect since returning fry to the lake have improved from 3,000 fry in 2003 to 40,000 fry in 2016.

In addition to the Lahontan cutthroat trout, Independence Lake also hosts populations of six other native Lahontan fishes that have lived here since glaciers disappeared some 10,000 years ago; the Tahoe sucker, Paiute sculpin, speckled dace, Lahontan redside shiner, Lahontan lake tui chub, and mountain whitefish . In order to preserve the biodiversity of the lake and surrounding area, no water craft from outside the lake are allowed. However, TDLT has 3 aluminum boats with 10 Hp motors, 10 kayaks, and 4 pontoon float tubes that are available to the public for free use during open hours from June to October. Special regulations for Independence Lake include no fishing in the tributaries or within 300 feet of the tributary mouth, catch and release only for Lahontan cutthroat, and use of artificial lures and flies only. TDLT has also implemented a foot wash station for all aquatic footgear. Watercraft are currently offered to the general public free of charge on a first come, first served basis. There is a limit of five fish per day as a combination of Brookies, Browns, and Kokanee and the lake is open year-round to fishing. But access to the lake is dependent on the snow which can be a hindrance from November to April.

Webber Lake (2600 acres at 6800 feet) might be the birthplace of sport fishing within the Sierra. Dr. Peter Webber stocked this natural lake in 1860 and built a hotel along it's shores. He sold the property to the Johnson Family in 1870 and they had maintained the lake as a private fishing camp for over 100 years. During those early years, the Henness Pass Road was completed to bring supplies over the Sierra to the California gold fields and Nevada silver mines. The Webber Lake hotel was a favorite stoping place for stages and freight haulers. In 2012, the Johnson Family sold the property to the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the lake became available to the public for the first time. The lake has a history of fish stockings of Rainbows, Browns, and Brookies. At one time, the lake was reknowned for the trophy sized trout that were caught in it's waters. However, those large behemoths are gone and most of the lake has small rainbows as the CDFW has been planting 8" rainbow stockers for the past 7 years. Starting in 2017, CDFW has been planting Lahontan Cutthroat fingerlings in the hope of making this a native fishery. The lake has good tributary spawning areas with Lacey Creek that feeds Webber Lake and the lake has some deep sections of over 40 feet. The fishing regulations are standard with no gear restrictions. There are a good amount of weed beds along the bottom with an abundance of red shiners and good hatches of midges, caddis, and mayflies. The lake is best fished from either a pram or float tube. There are currently about 40 campsites available and the cabins and hotel are being considered for restoration.

Upper Little Truckee River: The Little Truckee River starts from Webber Lake and Perazzo Creek. Most of the flow from the Upper Little Truckee is diverted to Sierra Valley at a small diversion dam that is located two miles from Hwy 89 along Fibreboard Road. This diversion has been taking place for over 140 years. This diversion has changed the river below with wide, easily erodable banks, and low stream flow resulting in high water temperatures during the Summer. Above the diversion, the river channel is narrow and the banks are well vegetated. There have been impacts to the river above the diversion dam with introduced beaver in 1945 eliminating many of the streamside aspen and cottonwood trees. Cattle have been grazing within this section of the river since the mid-1800's and many of the banks have had substantial damage. The USFS is trying to restore the Perazzo Meadows using a "plug & pool" method to retain more water to these meadow areas. The river mainly holds wild rainbows. However, during the Fall, large Browns and Kokanee Salmon will migrate out of Stampede Reservoir and migrate upriver.

Independence Creek: A tailwater creek with small plunge pools, runs, and pocket waters. This creek contains a healthy population of Browns in the 9-12 inch class just below the lake. About 1 mile downstream, Rainbows (7-10 inches) are mixed in with the browns. The creek above Independence Lake is closed to all fishing.

White Rock Lake: (87 acres at 7818 feet elev) Two to four thousand rainbow fingerlings are planted each year in this lake. Managed by PG&E.  A small number of stunted bullhead catfish also inhabit the lake.

Paradise Lake: (7,700 feet elevation) Contains Rainbows and Brookies. These fish will be mechanically removed due to the presence of Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frogs (SNYLF). The last planting was in 2009 with rainbows and no more will be planted. However, the brook trout are self-sustaining and will likely continue to be within the lake.

Sand Ridge Lake: This lake has a small population of SNYLF. Gill net surveys indicated that fish were not present within the lake. The lake is fairly shallow and the chances of survival are slim. However, in 2013 surveys indicated that the population remains stable.

Devils Oven Lake: This is a shallow lake less than ten feet deep. No fish are within the lake and SNYLF surveys were negative as well.

Rattlesnake Creek: This creek tends to go dry most years and there are no fish present. There is, however, a stable population of SNYLF within the remaining pools when surveyed.

Frog Lake: (35 acres at 7,600 feet elev) This lake has been privately owned for the last 100 years. There are negotiations between the Smith Family that own the lake and Truckee Donner Land Trust. The sale is hoping to be finalized in 2020 and the lake will be available to the public.Contains Brookies.

Summit Lake: (7,450 feet elev) Contains Brookies and Rainbows.

Lower Lola Montez Lake: (10 acres at 7,140 feet elev) There are two lakes and are named for the Irish-born actress and seductive dancer Lola Montez. She had been the mistress of King Ludwig, who made her Countess of Landsfeld. Wherever she went, scandals flourished. Eventually Lola made it to California to join the gold-rush spectacle, touring the mining camps in the Sierra foothills and performing on stage. She is famous for her dances during which she enabled vistas underneath her multi-colored petticoats. Contains Rainbows, mostly 8-10 inches and Brookies up to 15".


Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

Independence Lake except Independence Lake within 300 feet of the mouths of all tributaries.:

Saturday preceding Memorial Day through September 30th. Artificial lures with barbless hooks. 0 trout. NOTE: ALL LAHONTAN CUTTHROAT TROUT TAKEN SHALL BE IMMEDIATELY RETURNED TO THE WATER.

Independence Lake tributaries and Independence Lake within 300 feet of the mouths of all tributaries.:

Closed to all fishing all year.

All other creeks and tributaries:

Last Saturday in Apr. through Nov. 15. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.

All other Lakes and Reservoirs:

Open all year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.


© 2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.
Webber Lake Perazzo Creek Coldstream creek Independence Lake Independence Lake White Rock Lake Sagehen Creek Paradise Lake Sand Ridge Lake Warren Lake Frog Lake Lower Lola Montez Lake Upper NF American Truckee River Little Truckee Upper SF Yuba Webber Lake Summit Lake Mt Lola