What a year 2019 was for Henrys Lake!
Those of you who fished it last season know exactly what I’m talking about. We may all use different adjectives to describe the fishing last year, but no matter how you phrase it, consensus is ‘it was good’. But how good was it? How did Henrys Lake fishing in 2019 compare to recent years?
Every three years, IDFG conducts a survey of anglers on Henrys Lake in effort to answer this question. The results from the most recent survey are hot off the press. The three main things the survey quantifies are how fast did anglers catch fish (how many fish caught per hour), how much time did anglers spend fishing the lake, and how many fish were caught on the lake. The survey is called a creel survey. Here are the results from our 2019 creel survey on Henrys Lake:
The average trout catch rate for anglers in open water for 2019 was 1.06 fish/hour. Our 2019-2024 Fisheries Management Plan for the state specifies that IDFG manages Henrys Lake for a goal of 0.7 fish/hour. The 2019 catch rate exceeded our goal, but how does it compare with other years? Below is graph showing catch rates from surveys conducted between 2009 and 2019.
The catch rates above are for the entire fishing seasons on Henrys Lake. In 2019, we had one of our longest ice fishing opportunities the lake has experienced to date with anglers on the ice as early as Halloween. Here are some ice fishing-specific catch rate comparisons for the last decade (excluding 2009 when the fishing season closed Nov. 30):
Catch rates during both the ice fishery and the open water fishery at Henrys Lake in 2019 not only exceeded our management goal, but were the highest we’ve observed in the last decade.
Another question creel surveys help us understand is how much fishing pressure is occurring on the lake. At Henrys Lake, similar to catch rates, the amount of fishing pressure in 2019 was the highest observed in the last decade.
Number of Fish Caught
In 2019, anglers caught an estimated 227,490 trout. Most of these (85% or 194,381 fish) were released. Catch-and-release rates were nearly identical between the open water fishing season (86%) and ice fishing season (81%). Most fish were caught during the open water part of the fishery with a total of 183,484 fish caught in open water and 44,006 fish caught through the ice. Similar to catch rates and fishing pressure, the number of fish caught in 2019 was the highest observed over the last decade.
By all accounts, 2019 was a stellar fishing season on Henrys Lake with catch rates exceeding management goals, and catch rates, angler effort, and catch all at record levels for the last decade. Our gill net surveys and creel data both indicate there was a large number of two-year-old Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout in the lake. This abundant year class will persist for a couple more years and should provide some great fishing opportunities in the future. This is an amazing time to be a Henrys Lake angler. I hope you all get ample opportunities to get out on the lake this fishing season and enjoy this amazing trout fishery we have right here in eastern Idaho!
Upper Snake Regional Fish Manager