NorCal Fisherman Completes California’s 500th Heritage Trout Challenge

Scott Lyons, a retired educator and lifelong angler from El Dorado County, has achieved a significant milestone in California’s fishing community by completing the state’s 500th Heritage Trout Challenge. The California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recognized Lyons’ accomplishment, marking a notable moment in the program’s history.

The Heritage Trout Challenge, established in 2004, aims to promote the appreciation and conservation of California’s native trout species and their habitats. Participants in the challenge must catch and document six of the eleven qualifying native trout species within their historic watersheds. Lyons’ successful catches included the California golden trout, McCloud River redband trout, Trinity River steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, Goose Lake redband trout, and Lahontan cutthroat trout.

“I had never caught a golden trout until I undertook the Heritage Trout Challenge. I had never caught a steelhead,” said Lyons. “The more I opened the door, the more I started exploring, and the more excited I got about the different kinds of fish.”

Lyons, 57, has completed the Heritage Trout Challenge seven times. His journey to the 500th certificate spanned 14 years, although some of his previous challenges were completed in less than 12 months.

“The great thing about this program is there is no time limit,” Lyons explained. “Once you start, you can take as long as you want. The key is to have a really good picture.”

His adventures have taken him to diverse and sometimes challenging locations. For instance, Lyons and his wife, Brenda, hiked 16 miles roundtrip in the southern Sierra to catch his California golden trout, and despite previous unsuccessful attempts, he eventually succeeded at Heenan Lake in Alpine County to catch his Lahontan cutthroat trout.

A passionate fly fisherman, Lyons practices catch and release using barbless hooks, though the challenge does accommodate various fishing methods where regulations allow.

For more information or to participate in the Heritage Trout Challenge, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Heritage Trout Challenge page, which includes resources and a new online application and verification form.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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