In the Summer of 2011, I decided to begin my attempt to complete the California Heritage Trout Challenge. The challenge is sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Game, and requires you to catch six of the qualifying forms of trout in their historic drainage. There is no time frame to complete the challenge and there are eleven forms of trout that count towards the challenge:Coastal Cutthroat – Eel River Drainage Lahontan Cutthroat – Heenan Lake Paiute Cutthroat – Silver King Creek Coastal Rainbow – Clavey River Eagle Lake Rainbow – Eagle Lake McCloud River Redband – McCloud Goose Lake Redband – Goose Lake Warner Lakes Redband – Warner Lakes Kern River Rainbow Kern River – head waters to Durrwood Creek California Golden Trout – Volcano Creek, South Fork Kern and Golden Trout Creek Little Kern Golden Trout – Little Kern River
Trying to figure out where to catch your trout can be a little confusing because it can be difficult to match some of the trout listed above to the list of designated heritage trout waters. Additionally, some of the locations are currently closed or prohibit fishing in order to protect the native species. Below are the drainages that are currently on the list:Eagle Lake Heenan Lake Upper Stoney Creek Upper Truckee River Clavey River Golden Trout Creek Drainage Upper Kern River Upper East Fork San Gabriel River Upper Piru Creek
The closest designated heritage trout water to my house is the Clavey River. The Clavey is the longest undammed river in California. I have been making plans for several years to visit the river, but the opportunity had never presented itself. My family and I were given opportunity to stay at Pinecrest Lake in early summer. We had to arrive at our vacation spot due to work issues so we took separate vehicles. After our stay was over, I decided to check out the Clavey since it was somewhat on the way back home down HWY 108.
It was difficult finding directions to the river and it seemed to be a very long windy mountain road on the map. The route was not really clear, and I was making the assumption that this was going to be a dirt or gravel fire road with no guarantee as to its condition. After feeling my way around the town called Long Barn, I found the forest road that would begin guiding me towards the river. I drove down, down, down, back up and down further into the river canyon and to my very welcome surprise the road was paved all the way down to the river.
I parked at a bridge that crosses the river, and hastily scampered down to the river. As mentioned before, it was early summer and we were still experiencing a particularly heavy snow melt from the late winter. I received snow at my house on May 12that 3000 ft elevation. However, the river did not seem to have the heavy blowout that many of the other
Western Sierra Rivers were experiencing at the time. I imagine that this river is more like a small creek during most of the year. I worked up the river to some of the deeper pools and happened upon a bend in the river that offered some opportunity. It was a nice summer day at 60 to 70 degrees, but there was not much insect action on the river. I caught 5 small rainbows all in the 6 to 8 inch range. I have read that eight inches is about as big as the trout get in this river. At some point, I would like to explore the river more in order to test the conclusions about the size of the trout. I have seen pictures on the internet of a deep pool further down the river called God’s Bath which could be a good spot to find some larger trout.