Heenan Lake fishing season opener is just around the corner | NevadaAppeal.com

Heenan Lake fishing season opener is just around the corner

Don Quilici

The Friday before Labor Day marks the opening day of a very special fishing season at an easy-to-reach, nearby location.

If you would like to enjoy a different type of angling experience, you might want to reserve that date. This year, that special day is Friday, Sept. 1. It is the opening day of the fishing season at Heenan Lake in Alpine County, Calif.

Here is some misc. info:

How to get there:

From Carson City, take U.S. 395, Nevada S.R. 88 and California S.R. 88, south to Woodfords, Calif., a distance of about 30 miles.

At Woodfords, turn left and take the combination of S.R. 4 and S.R. 89 to Markleeville, a distance of about seven miles.

Then, go past Markleeville until you reach the Monitor Pass Junction. At the junction, turn left and take S.R. 89 east toward Topaz Lake.

Do not go straight ahead. That is S.R. 4 which will lead you up and over Ebbett’s Pass.

Once you’re on S.R. 89, drive about seven miles and Heenan Lake will be on your right.

How to fish:

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 on the water.

What to use:

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.

If you’re a spincaster, try various lures, such as Mepps, Kastmasters, Panther/Martins, Roostertails, Super Dupers, TOR-P-DO’s, etc.

What you’ll catch:

You’ll catch Lahontan cutthroat trout, with many of them running up to some very impressive sizes, both in weight and length.

Fishing season:

Heenan Lake is open to fishing only from the Friday before Labor Day through the last Sunday in October, each year.

This year that season is from Sept. 1 through Oct. 29.

You can only fish on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during that period of time (Fishing on Mondays-Tuesdays-Wednesdays-Thursdays during the open fishing season is a major “No-No.” Don’t be tempted!)

Special Regulations:

Heenan is a “catch and release” lake, which means that the limit is zero fish. Any cutthroat that you catch must be released unharmed. 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.

Barbless hooks only.

Daily fishing hours are from sunrise to sunset.

You must park your vehicle 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 (the game warden will be watching you!).

Heenan Lake tributaries are closed to fishing. Don’t be tempted!

Special Note:

On the opening weekend at Heenan with nice weather permitting, there could be as many as 60-80 float tube fishermen, scattered all over the surface of the lake.

They will look like a whole bunch of colorful Cheerios, floating around in a bowl.

If you’re the type of fisherman who seeks solitude when fishing, the opening weekend at Heenan Lake is definitely not going to be your “Cup of Tea.”

You might want to go somewhere else. Don’t say that you weren’t warned.


If you don’t fish, the ride to Alpine County and to Heenan Lake, the surrounding high-country scenery and the sight of all of those float tubes out on the water on the opening weekend will be well worth your time and effort.

Remember to take your camera.

Then when you are done sightseeing, just continue driving on S.R. 89 to the top of Monitor Pass and then down the other side to its intersection with U.S. 395, just south of Topaz Lake. There will be excellent photo opportunities everywhere along this drive.

As you drop down the winding road from Monitor Pass, the large valley on your right-hand side is Slinkard Valley.

For Information:

Call either the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce at (530) 694-2478 during their regular business hours or Dave Kirby at the Woodfords Station in Woodfords at (530) 694-2930.

— Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you what “critter” is a somewhat common sight seen around and at Heenan Lake.

If he grins and says, “You’re probably talking about the black bears that live in that general area,” he could be one of the many people who have spotted them at that location.

— Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.