Friday, September 24, 2010

Heenan Lake

I've been excited about fishing this lake since last Winter. I've never been there and had no idea what to expect. In the past, I've talked about the East Fork of the Carson River. Heenan Lake is a couple of miles past the Carson River Resort going up Monitor Pass. OK, that was for the locals, those of you out of state have no clue where I'm talking about.

Heenan Lake is the spawning lake for the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. It's owned by and used by the California Department of Fish and Game, as an egg source for stocking waters in California and Nevada with Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. The DFG takes up to 2 million eggs annually. A few thousand yearlings are put back into the lake each year.

The statistics on the lake are as follows. Since the Lahontan Cutthroat is listed as a threatened species, the lake is catch-and-release only (Zero limit). Artificial lures or flies only and barbless is a requirement. The lake sits at 7084' elevation and is only open from the Friday before
Labor day until the last Sunday in October. About 8 weeks. Open from Sunrise to Sunset.

Up with the wife at 0430 (another software upgrade in progress) and out the door at 0615. The drive takes the better part of two hours to get there. Everything is in the truck. The Float Tube Cumberland, fly rods, flippers, lunch, water, and all the rest of my fishing equipment. I get to the parking lot at the lake at 0830 and what I find, is not what I was expecting.

Heenan Lake is listed at 130 acres and is about 3 times the size of Red Lake. One small dirt road from the parking lot to the launch area, one vehicle at a time. Then you have to park in the lot which is about 500 yards uphill from the launch spot.

Here's what you have to do to fish:
Drive down to launch when it’s your turn.
Drive back up to the parking area.
Walk down to the lake (500 yards).
Flipper around (the one guy I saw in a float tube was about 100 ft from the launch area).
Walk back up to get your truck (500 yards).
Drive back down (when it’s your turn).
Load up your stuff.
Drive back to the parking lot to leave.

Of course, I did a lot of research before I ventured out to fish this lake. I had it all written down and ready to go. Wooly Buggers, Nymphs, Midges, I had them all.

Standing in the parking lot and looking at this huge lake, this is where it said to fish.

1. Fish the side opposite the launch area. It would have taken me all day to flipper over there.
2. Fish the end near the dam. According to the map, I might have gotten over there by lunch time. I would have had to turn right around to get back and out of there by dark.
3. Inlet of Heenan Creek , East end. Another trip by lunch time another day.

Sorry folks, I just didn't have it in me. I turned around and headed home. I did stop at Red Lake (since it's on the way) and managed 7 Brookies on lures and Power Bait.

A very disappointing trip. Some would say, what's the problem with what you listed above? A little walk, a little flippering, catch some big fish? Got to remember, the kid is 64 years old and two years from a couple of hard, on the body, operations. It's just not there any more. I'm not sure if I could walk to the water and fish with spinning gear or would even have trouble getting back up the hill. The mind is 35, the body is 75 or maybe older.

I'll just have to stick with the places I can fish, but then there are a bunch of them. Besides, the Trout pond will be opening up again in another month or so. We also have another month and a half before the regular trout season closes. I still have a few streams I want to fish.

Till next time.

Mark (Shoreman)


  1. At least you went. Knowing your limitations is not a bad thing. Looking forward to your next outing.

  2. So you scouted a new area, and then caught some trout. Sounds like a good day. Like Troutrageous said above, knowing your limitation is not a bad thing.

    The Average Joe Fisherman

  3. I just want to say, "I hear you my friend." Sometimes the desire to fish just about anywhere there is a report of good fishing or a good possibility of some fish, doesn't always coincide with what the body has in mind for a day out fishing. Glad you had the foresight to remember and the courage to not push yourself in that situation.

  4. Hell, Mark, I'm 35 but my mind is 20. After back surgery and continual back pain, my wrecklessness has been damped somewhat.

  5. Mark
    I understand exactly where you are coming from. I prefer the boat now days instead of the walk. I have been told and I am sure you have been told not to give up the fishing expeditions until you have to crawl to go---then you and I might be ready for the rocking chair. Hang in there for all of us baby bommers. Great Post.

  6. Understand completely, Mark. Here's my version - only didn't use my head.

    2 years ago my brother and I went to RMNP in Sept. I told him we would fish a mountain meadow that I had done 10 years earlier. We left the car at 6 AM, did the walk, fished all day, caught a ton of trout, and got back at dark. My GPS showed a total of 11 miles walked that day, from 8,800' to 10,250' and back.

    Thought (and, on some level, wished) I would die that nite.

    Better to use our heads. This 50 year old body feels like it is 75!

  7. If its any concelation a good buddy fished his butt off the same day for one. He said it was a cluster too. About 5 years ago, before I even knew precicley where the lake was I pulled over on 89 on my way to the east side. I walked across the meadow and fished the outlet creek for about 4 hours. Obviously a huge no no and bust. I really didn't know though. I coudn't believe no one was there Ha. The fishing was great!

  8. get a pontoon boat and rig it up with a trolling motor and a wheelchair battery. . . all told 500-800 bucks, and you never have to flipper again.

  9. Rods and reels are two of the most expensive components of fishing tackle official fishing network