The EcoAngler Report
Planning to fish Heenan Lake? Get scientific based angling intel in The EcoAngler Report - Heenan Lake.
Detailed information on Heenan's Lahontans along with detailed maps of where to fish and statistics to help time your trip can be purchased here.
An Adobe PDF document will be made available with your $1.50 purchase. Select Return to the Ecological Angler to view and save your purchase.
Look for my article on Heenan Lake in the September/October 2015 issue of Southwest Fly Fishing
If you are planning a trip to Heenan Lake, then take note of the following: the lake opens for fishing on the Friday of Labor Day weekend and closes on the last Saturday of October (unless it falls on October 31st, then it's the Saturday prior). During that period, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the only days anglers are permitted to fish.
Fly Fishing on Heenan Lake 2013
Yes, I fished for Science in 2013. To be exact, I contributed to a population study on Heenan Lake. CDFW conducted a mark and recapture population estimation of the Lahontan cutthroat population during September and October. To aid the study, Fish and Wildlife enlisted anglers during the fishing season to catch the cutthroat. Next, CDFW personnel would examine the fish for marks (to determine if it had been counted), and then use a paper-hole-punch to mark the fish if it hadn't been counted.
FISH ON! was the common cry on Heenan this season. Some of us get excited, and some of us like to draw attention to our ourselves, but this season the cry was for science. With several CDFW staff stationed on the lake in kayaks, anglers were instructed to yell out "Fish On" when a fish was hooked. Fish and Wildlife would then take the fish for species ID, length measurement, and if necessary administer the hole-punch.
The experience is similar to cow punching, but on Heenan you ride pontoon boats and use a paper hole-punch.
Nutrients at Heenan or Algal Blooms Revisited
It's been a handful of years since I last fished Heenan. But one thing hadn't changed - algal blooms. The green stuff was back again, and in far greater density. Staring down as my fly rig sink in front of my pontoon boat, I wondered if the Lahontans would see the patterns through the green fog.
Why the aquatic fog? My understanding is Heenan Creek and the surrounding watershed that form Heenan Lake contain nutrient rich soils. Heenan traps much of these nutrients from run-off and being a smaller lake without much depth, algal blooms go off, and go off big. (Also as the reservoir ages, nutrients remain and build up over time and CDFW needs to monitor and manage for the long term health of this fishery.)
Yes, it looks funky and keeps you cleaning your flies, but the nutrients driving this bloom are also the engine driving the entire food web at Heenan. And ultimately, the benefits roll up (or down?) to the cutthroat trout in the form of food (e.g., scuds).