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Fall River
19 miles of one of the largest spring creeks in the West was opened to the public in 1970 by a bold fly fisherman with wire-cutters
 THE FALL RIVER AQUIFER gushes from the ground at Thousand Springs Ranch near the small com- munity of Dana, approximately 75 miles east of Red- ding and only about an hour and twenty minutes by car from The Fly Shop®.
Within yards of its artesian origin, a virtual funnel belching thousands of gallons a second up from a single natal aquifer, it becomes a magnificent, crystal clear stream. The river then worms its way downstream to- ward its confluence with the Pit River, gaining both vol- ume and waistline. Less than a mile from its source, the Fall River is a large spring creek navigable by shallow draft jon boats for more than 12 miles until reaching its first hydroelectric roadblock.
Fall River is important as one of the largest Blue Ribbon spring creeks in America, and because of a landmark legal precedent of national significance which helped define an- gling navigability. Before 1970, barbed-wire fences crossed and blocked the river at each property line. Floating the river wasn’t allowed and fishing clubs leased most sections of Fall River. In the late ’60s an intrepid angler floated the river from its source, cutting all the wire fences as he moved downstream toward public water and his eventual arrest.The ensuing court decision (Baker v. Mack) declared the river navigable.The fences were removed and, in 1970, a fantastic new public fishery was established.
Nominally public as a float fishery, the entire shore- line is still completely private, and off-limits. The river averages more than a hundred fifty feet wide, and nearly 4.5 feet deep. Wading is impossible, and shallow draft Johnboats equipped with small gas or electric motors are the best (and only) way to effectively stalk fish.
The only real public access point is located in the lower portion of the river at the Cal Trout property adjacent to Island Bridge. Commercial upper river ac- cess is available through Spinner Fall Lodge, three miles above the Spring Creek confluence.
Water temperatures stay in the low 50’s in the upper river, and the large volume of spring water inflow main- tains Fall River water temperature at near optimum ranges for trout production, even during the often hot mid-summer weather.
Fall River rainbows in the river average about 16 inches, and the California DF&W estimates that there are sections of the serpentine spring creek that harbor as many as 4,300 rainbow trout per river mile. These fish are incredibly wary and not easy to hook. Maybe because of the ultra-clear stream. Or the fact that they’re one of the least miscegenated, wild species of rainbow trout left in the American West.
Fishing Fall River requires skill, experience, access, and some sophisticated equipment to be successful. It’s a chess match very similar to the Henry’s Fork, requir- ing sophisticated flies, subtle terminal tackle, and near- perfect presentation.
This year Fall River promises to be one of the best des- tinations in Northern California because, if nothing else, it is entirely spring fed and flows are completely reliable. The blizzard of mayflies that helped make this river fa- mous began in full force in May, often covering the water. We expect optimum conditions to continue through Au- gust and that fall fishing on the Fall River will be terrific.

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