Lahontan Cutthroat in Tahoe Basin

Sparked by an exchange with by Brian Boomer - a member of the EcoAngler community and holder of California Heritage Trout Challenge Cert #265 - I thought others might benefit from what we learned. I've exchanged email with Brian Boomer several ocassions about California's Heritage Trout waters. A few weeks he asked about taking a group of students in pursue of Lahontan Cutthroat. In short, he wanted to find them in their historic drainage within a fairly easy hike. One of the options I suggested was Fallen Leaf Lake in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Will Fallen Leaf Lake qualify as a heritage water? I’m assuming it will since the Truckee and its tributaries’ qualify.

Brian Boomer

The quesiton got my curiousity going about Fallen Leaf Lake and whether it qualifies for the California Heritage Trout Challenge, so I had to find out... Here's what I found from FWS: The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (LCT) is the only trout native to the Tahoe basin. Tahoe/Truckee lacustrine LCT are the largest and longest-lived of the lake forms. (The record at Fallen Leaf Lake stands at 29 pounds!) Currently the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery produces LCT for Pyramid Lake, Walker Lake, the Truckee River, Fallen Leaf Lake and Marlette Reservoir.

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout near Lake Tahoe

Fallen Leaf Lake drains into Lake Tahoe and had it's own population that spawned inside an inlet tributary. The most productive tributary on Fallen Leaf Lake - Taylor Creek is estimated to have reached a spawning run of over 7,000 fish annually (Trotter 2008). So, based on these findings, I'm pretty certain a LCT caught & photographed from Fallen Leaf Lake qualifies for the California Heritage Trout Challenge.