When I was growing up in the 1960’s I was incredibly lucky to have a father dedicated to teaching his family about outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, hiking, water sports, and the like. Shasta County in northern California was a little known resource to the casual vacationer, considered to near to their metropolitan urban homes to brag about. Far more exotic trips to Alaska, British Columbia, or Florida seemed to be more brag worthy.
My dad knew our area was far more diverse than many of these other “exotic” destinations. Many of the high dollar adventures were known for only one or two featured draws like a certain species of salmonid, big game animal, or saltwater big game fishing. Our northern California resources were enough to whet the appetite of any outdoors’ enthusiast. There was even a spring creek fishery unlike any other. This largest and most famous of spring creeks in California is Fall River.
Before 1971 Fall River was completely private lands with owners giving little or no access to sportsmen. My dad tried and tried to gain an ‘in’ with ranchers to fish this fabulous water to no avail. He even spent an entire winter welding up irrigation pipe for hay ranchers, and they turned him down. They paid him, of course, but would not grant access to the river for an outsider.
In the early 1970’s a notable lawsuit declared Fall River to be navigable if one can get a boat into the water. CalTrout spearheaded this suit, and maintains a launch for small non-gas powered watercraft near the Island Road Bridge. This is the only “public” access on the middle section of Fall River above the confluence with the Tule River. A current link for what CalTrout is up to right now is http://caltrout.org/regions/mount-shasta-region/the-fall-river/.
I was out of the area during the ensuing years. I didn’t keep up with local northern California politics unless brought to my notice from my mom or dad, and neither of them mentioned this development. Those water’s were still off limits as far as I knew until a presentation about Fall River at the monthly meeting of Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers..
The club president told us there were two three day trips scheduled for the last two weeks of June, and it was first come first serve at the sign up sheet. I said to myself “Oh yeah! Wish dad could go with me.”, and made a reservation for two. My fishing pal James would go too.
Where We Stayed
Nestled in a huge high mountain meadow is the Spinnerfall Lodge, and would be our base of operations for the net few days. This place was great! As expected, the rooms are decorated northwoods rustic, and like other small motel rooms, but that is where the similarity ended. A huge deck spans the entire length of the main lodge in a couple of tiers, and overlooks a giant lawn that leads right down to the river’s edge featuring a little waterwheel pump, and launch. A beautiful bar overlooks all of this in the main room, where tables are set for diners in big parties, or small and intimate. The food was fantastic, and very reasonable, with breakfast, bag lunch, and dinner everyday. We enjoyed their chef’s specialties very much thank you!
I am going to break this trip down into a couple of different posts, so come back to check out the actual fishing part in a few days. In the mean time you may like to check out what a trip like this can mean to you by going to The Fly Shop. They are one of the premier outfitters, and offer their help in a very courteous, knowledgeable manner.
The fishing part of the trip will be in a few days, be sure to come back. Until next time, I hope you are out Ketchinnee!