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Wet Fly Swing Fly Fishing Podcast

Traveled #11 – Henrys Lake Foundation with Damon Keen – Fisheries Biology, Conservation Efforts, Restoration Projects

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Review: The 2023 Henrys Lake Foundation Annual Event

What an exceptional event we had this year. We had the “old guard” who represents the folks who have dedicated themselves to fisheries protection and improvements for years. The Henrys Lake Foundation members who serve tirelessly, giving of themselves repeatedly. Those folks who have made the foundation. They have witnessed the ups and downs of our organization and now are proud to be representing an organization that undoubtedly is at the forefront of the Henrys Lake habitat enhancement.

And then we had a bunch of new folks. People who either have seen the differences the organization has made or were curious about the level of our commitment. If the annual event is an indicator, those folks know now that we are making a difference. They heard our stories of success, and they witnessed our commitment to the resource firsthand. They appreciate the uniqueness of our organization. Contributions go directly to project work. No staff salaries here. For over 40 years we have spent members contributions wisely and directed those funds directly to project implementation or to funding to make IDFG hatchery production better. The HLF has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars directly over that 40-year period and has leveraged many times that amount directly for habitat protection. Just this year alone we have committed approximately $35,000 to protect and improve the resource.

With that said, thanks are in order. First to our board members. From directly purchasing our auction items to contributing many hours on a volunteer basis, we applaud you. Our board members never seek acknowledgement. For them, knowing that they are doing good for our fishery is reward enough. But it should be noted that even the beverages for our event are donated by board members “behind the scenes.” They pony up thousands of dollars annually so more funding can go directly to fisheries improvements.

Our membership deserves recognition as well. Quite honestly, they also give without concern for accolades. They are our force that makes all these projects possible. Sometimes folks contribute large sums of money and request anonymity. Others contribute what they can, and they are just as critical to our success. Thanks also to the folks who are not currently members but chose to attend our event. We hope you become a member but thank you regardless.

We cannot say thanks enough to our private landowners. It was good to see those folks attending our event. Our restoration efforts are focused entirely on private ground. Without our landowners, we do not exist.

We also applaud IDFG Fisheries Biologist Nathan Tillotson. He attended the event and gave an outstanding presentation. We thank him for his wiliness to participate. And once again, thanks to Meadow Vue Ranch for putting on a magnificent event for us. We have found a home for our annual event and it fits perfectly.The Henrys Lake Foundation again raised monies at our annual event to perpetuate our fishery. We had over one hundred folks take time out of their busy schedule to sign up for the event. We encourage folks considering membership to do so now. You too can be a part of an organization that has only one major goal; To protect our fishery for future generations.

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Idaho Fish and Game Henrys Lake Quarterly Newsletter-Winter 2022/2023

This is starting to become a trend here lately, but we have yet ANOTHER new state record fish from Henrys Lake! On New Year’s Day, young Spencer Smith caught the new certified weight state record Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout out of Henrys Lake, weighing in at 2.88 lbs, and measuring 20 in. Congrats, Spencer! 

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Henrys Lake Quarterly Newsletter – Fall 2022

Idaho Fish and Game, Uppper Snake Region

Nathan Tillotson, Fisheries Biologist

Big news Henrys Lake anglers! The new Idaho catch-and-release state record hybrid trout (Rainbow Trout X Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout) was caught out of Henrys Lake this fall, and it’s a whopper. Hailey Thomas of Rigby caught this 36-inch hybrid, which easily beats the prior catch-and-release state record by 6 inches. Based on length and girth measurements, we estimate that this fish weighed somewhere between 17-20 lbs! The best part is that this fish is still swimming around out there and growing, so we may have another record catch on our hands in the near future. 

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Henrys Lake sets new state record hybrid trout

Congratulations to Hailey Thomas of Rigby on landing a new catch-and-release state record from Henrys Lake. Hailey hooked the 36-inch long monster rainbow/cutthroat hybrid on Oct. 4 while fishing with her family on the renowned east Idaho lake. Hailey’s fish comfortably cruises past the prior record – an already impressive 30-inch rainbow/cutthroat hybrid set by Ryan Ivy from the Snake River in 2018.

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TNC Protects High Priority Wildlife Habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

The Nature Conservancy in Idaho announces the purchase of a 634-acre property located 15 miles west of Yellowstone National Park. Located in one of the most ecologically significant regions of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, this project secures the protection of critical habitat and advances efforts to ensure the survival and resiliency of iconic wildlife in this area.

Much of the property and surrounding lands are situated within Henrys Lake Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and provide crucial connectivity to areas that support a diversity of wildlife in the Madison River Valley and Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Wyoming. The ranch had been platted for subdivision and fragmentation that would have been devastating for wildlife habitat and migration corridors.

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Henrys Lake Quarterly Newsletter-Summer 2022

Each year, IDFG conducts a gillnet survey on Henrys Lake to assess the current state of the fishery. We begin the survey immediately after ice-out, which didn’t take place until mid-May this year! We set nets at six sites throughout the lake every night until we reach our goal of at least 50 net-nights of effort. IDFG manages Henrys Lake for a target population size that results in a gillnet capture rate of 11 trout per net.

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IDFG Biologists look into the effect of Utah chub on Yellowstone cutthroat in Henrys Lake

Henrys Lake is a renowned trophy trout fishery that is managed for rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout hybrids, Yellowstone cutthroat trout, and brook trout. Yellowstone cutthroat trout is a popular sport fish and is native to Henrys Lake and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Unfortunately, Yellowstone cutthroat trout have experienced substantial population declines caused by nonnative species and reduced habitat quality and quantity. As a result, conserving native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Henrys Lake is a high priority for resource managers. Read more.

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Henrys Lake Quarterly Newsletter-Spring 2022

Henrys Lake Year-Long Creel Survey

We’re keeping an extra-close eye on the fishery after the regulation change by conducting a year-long creel survey. Every week, we will be interviewing anglers asking about species-specific catch rates, fish sizes, angler demographic information, and much more. These data will help us better understand how angler effort, angler harvest, and user-group types have changed with the expanded opportunity. It will also provide insight into how angler catch rates relate to the current fish population and species composition. Click here for the entire newsletter.

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 SHORELINE RESTORATION PROJECT AT HENRYS LAKE TO BENEFIT THE FISHERY, BIRDS AND WILDLIFE 



Mary Van Fleet and Nancy Olson of Island Park trimming willow stakes for planting. Photo Credit Tracy River


Volunteers plant willows on eroded lakeshore . Photo credit Tracy Rivers

 Island Park, Idaho, May 28, 2022 — Volunteers from Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance, Henrys Lake Foundation, and Idaho Master Naturalists worked a total of 70 hours over three days in May alongside staff from the Bureau of Land Management-Upper Snake Field Office. The project, supported by volunteer labor, was conducted by BLM to restore a badly eroded section of the west shore of Henrys Lake. 

Continuing an ambitious multi-year project that started last year, they planted more than 1,000 dormant willow stakes, collected from nearby vigorous willow stands along the lake. The stakes are expected to leaf out and take root this summer and eventually help restore the natural willow growth along the shore, improve shoreline stability, and benefit water quality. 

Mary Van Fleet of Island Park, who helped recruit many of the local volunteers, says “Planting dormant willow sticks right at the edge of an eroding bank and into the shoreline helps protect the shoreline from erosion that occurs during wave action in wind events. It also protects the shoreline from ice surge during the winter which deteriorates the bank.” 

She says stabilization of the banks is extremely important to reduce siltation in the lake and contribute to water quality for fish and anglers. It also provides excellent habitat for moose which utilize the willows as a food source, along with various birds and other wildlife species. 

Van Fleet says, “in addition to benefiting elk, moose, and other wildlife, willow bottoms around the Lake are important habitat for many species of birds, both songbirds and waterfowl, as a food source, protection, and nesting areas.” 

Ryan Beatty, Fisheries Biologist with BLM, was the lead for planning the shoreline restoration project and expressed his appreciation for all the volunteers who conducted the work. “Many hands make light work, and this effort would not have been possible without the contributions of volunteers.” He says, “Patience and a little luck should lead to substantial increases in shoreline willow density, shoreline stability and reduced shoreline erosion in the future.” 

Beatty also encourages landowners to retain natural vegetation during property development and maintenance of their land. He says planting inexpensive native vegetation-based enhancements to lakeshore properties can preserve the lakeshore and attract wildlife. 

For more information contact Mary Van Fleet at 208-558-9127 

Jean Bjerke 

President 

Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance