Aug. 31 marks the opening day of a very special fishing season at an easy-to-reach, nearby location. If you would like to enjoy a uniquely, different type of angling experience, you might want to reserve that date on your calendar.
It's the 2001 opening day at Heenan Lake, located in Alpine County, Calif.
To reach Heenan Lake, take a combination of U.S. 395, Nevada S.R. 88 and California S.R. 88, south to Woodfords, Calif., a distance of about 30 miles.
At Woodfords, take S.R. 4 and S.R. 89 to Markleeville, a distance of about seven miles. Then, drive through Markleeville to the Monitor Pass Junction. At that junction, take S.R. 89, east toward Topaz Lake. Heenan Lake will be on your right, about seven miles from the Monitor Pass Junction.
Once you're at the lake, you should preferably fish from a float tube, inflatable raft, canoe or small boat. You can fish from shore, but you'll have much better success out on the water.
If you're a fly fisherman, you should try an assortment of artificial flies, such as Antron Caterpillars, Leeches, Prince Nymphs, Woolly Buggers, Zug Bugs, etc.
Spincasters should try various lures, such as Mepps, Kastmasters, Panther-Martins, Super Dupers, TOR-P-DO's, etc.
No matter how you fish at Heenan, you'll be trying to catch Lahontan cutthroat trout, with many of them running up to some very impressive sizes.
Be advised that there are a number of special regulations that govern fishing at Heenan.
They are as follows:
-- It is open to fishing only from the Friday before Labor Day through the last Sunday in October, each year.
-- It is open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during that period of time.
-- The limit is zero fish. This is a "catch and release" lake. Any cutthroat that you catch must be released unharmed. Note: Anglers are encouraged to practice "airless" catch and release, which keeps the trout in the water, at all times, while trying to release it.
-- You can only use artificial flies or lures, with barbless hooks.
-- The daily fishing hours are from sunrise to sunset.
-- You must park outside the locked gate at the lake.
-- Gasoline boat motors are not permitted on the lake.
-- You must wear your California fishing license where it is readily visible above the waist.
Special Note: As a matter of interest, on the opening weekend at Heenan with the weather permitting, there can be as many as 60-80 float tube fishermen, scattered all over the lake.
For information, call the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce at (530) 694-2478 during regular business hours or Dave Kirby at the Woodfords Station in Woodfords at (530) 694-2930 (after 10 a.m.).