LINE TO TABLE
An early-morning fishing adventure on Lake Tahoe.
WRITTEN BY AMANDA BURDEN
PHOTOS BY JACI GOODMAN
Sylas Wright, editor in chief of Tahoe Quarterly
Justin Majeczky, local photographer and videographer
With dawn’s first light glinting on Lake Tahoe, I embark on an expedition to catch my first fish. Groggy but excited, I and our small group climb into a 29-foot sport-fishing boat docked at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, in Incline Village, to participate in the property’s Fishable Lake Tahoe program. We set out to catch mackinaw, a freshwater char.
Jetting over calm waters and watching the sun peek over the mountains, our captain, Ben Cowley, with Action Water Sports in North Lake Tahoe, steers the boat to his lucky spot. We settle in about two miles offshore, bobbing softly on the clear blue water while Cowley drops the downriggers 200 to 400 feet, fishing underwater slopes off of the plateau.
Mackinaw, introduced to the lake in the 1800s, grow slowly and can live long. The average catch is two to four pounds, with fish twice that size commonly being reeled in. I hope to catch a big one, as a more than 37-pound fish (the California state record for mackinaw) was caught in Lake Tahoe in 1974. They are known to have voracious appetites, but you never know if they will chomp down on your lure. Fishing is a game of chance.
“Of all the places I’ve fished, Tahoe is the most challenging,” Cowley says. “It’s never the same. You can’t use the same technique all the time. It’s unpredictable and you’re not guaranteed fish.”
The day’s catch prepared by Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe chefs Josh Childers, culinary supervisor, and Shay Prince, chef de tournant
I’m not disheartened. We talk and scan the horizon, enjoying the beauty of Lake Tahoe from the water while Cowley controls the downriggers and monitors the depth at which we troll. Suddenly, a bent rod starts to twitch, then another one. Everyone in the boat stands up and each gets a chance at a fish; they reel in quite a few. Next, someone hands me a rod, and I pull in a fish that isn’t huge (at about three pounds), but it’s beautiful and I’m giddy. We put our fish on ice and hear them thrashing around in the chest as we head back to the shore. The three-hour tour was successful for everyone aboard.
What’s even better is the day ends with a spectacular meal, one in which we all played a part. Cowley hands over the fish to Lone Eagle Grill chefs, who consult with us on how we would like them cooked. We opt for stuffing the fish full of lemon slices and herb stocks, then grilling them whole over an open flame.
We freshen up and head to the dining room for a delicious, local fish feast. It’s a perfect ending to a beautiful summer day.
Amanda Burden is publisher of edible Reno-Tahoe and edible Sacramento magazines. She’ll never forget her first fish.
The Fishable Lake Tahoe experience includes a fishing license, bait, and tackle, as well as wine, beer, and snacks on the boat. It’s $200 per adult, $140 per child (12 and under), and $1,000 for a private charter (up to six people). It’s an additional $33 per person to have your fresh catch prepared by the Lone Eagle Grill chef. Excursions are seasonal and can be booked between May and September, weather permitting. For details, visit Laketahoe.regency.hyatt.com.