The Cold Shouldn’t Bother You Anyway: Enjoying the Truckee River During the Winter

We came up with some different ways to spend time along the Truckee River even when the temperature is below freezing. So curl up by your fireplace and take notes!

Just because it’s ~freezing~ outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Truckee River. Whether you want to sit in your car with the heat cranked while parked at Wingfield and watch locals brave the cold OR you’re out there in the thick of it, twirling along the Legacy Trail and happily catching snowflakes on your tongue, the Truckee is a source to cherish year-round.

Your Way is Paved

Many trails along the Truckee River are consistently cleared of snow, so your morning walk is still possible! Enjoy the snow-muted sounds of the city or the wild along trails like the Truckee River Legacy Trail, the Riverwalk District, and the Tahoe-Pyramid Trail. Who knows, you may discover an event going on outside, like the Riverside Farmers Market at McKinley taking place every Saturday through the winter.

You’re not limited to the Truckee River either! The Truckee River Watershed is everywhere in the Truckee Meadows area, and there’s probably a tributary right out your back door.

And anyway, sometimes being on foot in the snow feels safer than driving in it.

Fish got Your Hook?

Photo courtesy Rob Burke

The Nevada Department of Wildlife said it best on day 16 of their 25 Days of Fish-mas: “It may be cold outside but winter fishing can be hot on the Truckee River. Spin and fly anglers on the Truckee shouldn’t be discouraged by the cold weather at all. Winter often brings some of the best conditions between Reno and the Derby Dam.”

More than one person agrees that the Truckee River is a superb winter fishery. Matt “Gilligan” Koles is a well-known fly fishing guide along the Truckee, and he has five helpful tips regarding winter fishing on the Truckee River:

  1. Do not fish the same type [of] water you would in the [s]ummer. Winter fish are lethargic[;] they will not move far to chase a fly.
  2. Do not start at the break of dawn. Water temps are cold in the morning and fish will not get active until the sun penetrates the water and warms the temp some. Winter fish like areas with little current. Look for current that moves like a slow walking pace.
  3. Patience is key. It might take a ton of drifts to get that fish to move on your fly. Instead of changing your flies all the time, work on getting good drifts. Same rule actually applies in the [s]ummer also.
  4. Have a midge box. Winter trout eat midges, period.
  5. Fish during warm fronts. The Sierras are blessed with bright sunny days and high pressure even in [w]inter. Fish on days that are the warmest and get out a few days after a big storm when the water clears.

Ice Night for it


Miss Nancy Rowe, a competitor in St. Paul Outdoor Sports Carnival Fancy Skating Contest courtesy The Library of Congress

Ice skating is always a good idea, and if there’s a rink adjacent to the river, we’re sold! Both the Truckee Ice Rink and the Downtown Ice Rink in Reno practically sit in the Truckee River’s lap. Enjoy a nice evening or two swishing and carving around on the ice under the stars. Don’t forget to bundle up!

Frigid Hues and Stunning Views

Photo courtesy Flickr user gabe popa

The snow adds a layer of peace to the Truckee River. It also adds a layer of beauty. So put on your own layers and head outdoors with your camera. Everyone loves a good snow-covered Truckee River!

Inside Edition

If you’re truly set on staying warm inside, there are still ways to stay in tune with the river. Check out events on Facebook to find speaker series and educational opportunities concerning our watershed. Places like Patagonia and the Discovery Museum in Reno are always putting on shindigs focused on the nature around us.