I have wanted to fish Balch Park outside Springville, CA for many years. I have seen some beautiful pictures and wanted to see it for myself. I finally did it.
Road to Balch Park
The park is not really that far outside Spingville, but getting there takes some time. After about an hour on a small, paved but rough road - we arrived at the park. There are a few good sized camp sites - and on this weekend, they were just about filled.
There are two main ponds. One is partially surrounded by the main campground. The other is just across the road, and is about one third the larger, main pond. Both are occasionally stocked, mostly with rainbows, or a hybrid stock trout called a "Shasta" trout.
Marshy area in distance
This a great family and kid friendly place. If you want to get away from people and fish naitive trout - this may not be the place for you. If you want a nice, public camp ground, and a place where the kids can fish and actually catch something - this is ideal.
Most people use bait - worms, salmon eggs, and power bait. Some people try spinners. And every now and then somebody tries a little fly fishing. It did it all.
I had no luck with salmon eggs and spinners, but I did well fly fishing and using power bait. If you fly fish, bring waders because you will have better access, and can get away from bushes and trees that line the bank. I waded into a a marsh. Luckily there were no mosquitos! I threw a yellow stone dry fly with an orange body. The trout loved it. They swarmed the fly and nipped, bit and chomped on it. The only problem - I was getting hit by dozens of small fingerlings. They'd nip and tug on the fly, pull it underwater and drag it around, but were too small to even swallow the number 14 hook. I eventually got a small little trout who was big enough to hook, and promptly let the little guy go.
I then worked my way around the pond. I came to a fallen giant sequoia. The trunk extended into the pond. I climbed on and used it as a natural made dock. About halfway along the fallen tree I spotted a nice sized trout swimming parallel to the tree, heading to deeper water. I quickly started stripping fly line and trying to get a good cast going. By then the fish was about out of my range, so I had to cast.
My second trout by fly
The fly hit about 3 feet behind and to the left of the fish, but he turned and spotted my fly. He circled back around - swam briskly to it - and hit. I hooked and netted him. I could have legally kept him - but I let him go.
By now, the day was hot - and the fishing slowed. Most fish had moved to the center of the pond, to deeper cooler water. I did not think I could cast a beadheaded wooly bugger far enough to reach them, so that was the end of fly fishing for the day.
I switched to split shot and powerbait, and caught a few more.
Hedrick Pond - Balch park
My overall assesment: if you want to take the kids and family, Balch Park is a great spot. If you want to fly fish, you certainly can. I would suggest early in the morning and in the late evening, and if you can fish off season - say September or October, you might avoid the crowds.
Here is some other useful info. No reservations at the camp ground. You can call the site manager at 559- 539- 3896. Not far away is the Balch Park Pack Staton. You can book various horseback rides by calling 559- 539- 2227 or go to http://www.balchpark.com/.