I know there are lots of folks who don’t like the concept of private water. I’m even mostly in that camp. I like public water and I prefer wild fish. However, private waters have their place and the fishing can be the equivalent of Anglers Disneyland, not a “real” experience, but sometimes the happiest place on earth.
On my recent trip up to Dunsmuir my dad booked us a day on some private ponds at Henderson Springs. Henderson is located about an hour east of Redding, not a straight shot from Dunsmuir, but worth it. There was news of a Hex hatch in the evening and that sounded pretty good.
In short… I caught more inches of fish in a day than I ever have in my life… and that’s saying something. My dad and I figured I had at least 40 fish to the net (he had at least 30). My smallest fish was about 14″, but most were around 20-22″ and my largest… a beast of a fish that looked like a steelhead, was 27″. That all measures out to about 400 inches of trout. I’ve had 40 and even 50 trout days… but not with an average size of 20 inches. That’s pretty epic.
My friend Chip O’Brien said that fishing private water is like hunting for cows, and, to a certain degree, I have sympathy for that sentiment. Still, the fish fought hard and came in a really wide variety of colors… some with deep red flanks and some chrome like fresh steelhead. None had that washed out gray of a hatchery fish. I hate gray trout. They aren’t supposed to come in gray.
There were some pretty fish…
There were some that had some issues…
The fish were nice sized, there were plenty of of them and they rose to dries, took leeches, took streamers, soft hackles and nymphs.
There ended up being a nice Hex hatch, although the fish didn’t seem to be on the adults, my dad and I simply crushed them on a simple nymph pattern that also yielded my 27 incher. My net was not big enough for that fish and that is ALWAYS a good problem to have. I didn’t take a pic of that fish in order to keep it from dying. The fish was on the line for a while, pulling me around in the float tube and a photo seemed ill-advised.
While the fishing was fantastic, the best part was fishing with my dad all day. As he put it, it was nice to actually fish within sight of each other all day. When we fish one of our rivers, the Upper Sac or the McCloud, we tend to start and finish the day together, but during the middle, I tend to move a little faster and further than my dad does. We don’t actually fish together as much as fish the same river at the same time within a quarter mile of each other. It was great to see his rod bent so often and to be able to have a communal experience there at Henderson.
We didn’t get back to Dodge until midnight. I felt hungover the next morning despite not drinking anything the night before. That wrapped up my little jaunt North. There were lots of fish caught and some really good memories made. We’ll be heading back up North in a few weeks to stay at a cabin along the Metolius River and Grandma and Grandpa are coming too. That should be another great experience with equal parts family and fishing.