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Kilarc One More Time

John Higley, author photo

Article and photos by John Higley
09/15/15 -- On Sunday, following an early breakfast, I unloaded the work tools from my Ford F-150 and replaced them with an assortment of fishing tackle.

Shortly after 9 a.m. I was on my way, once again, to 4.5 acre Kilarc Reservoir, which is near the town of Whitmore. For decades Kilarc has provided a fine place for easy access family recreation, especially trout fishing, in a timbered setting with a view of Mt. Lassen in the distance. As I’ve told you before, my daughter Meredith caught her first fish ever at Kilarc when she was just five years old. I don’t even want to contemplate how long ago that was. Lets just say her four growing kids caught their first fish there too.

The reason for my visit on Sunday was the eighth annual save Kilarc picnic which, for the third year in a row, was a low key event. A couple dozen people were there, including several Kilarc regulars like me and a smattering of newcomer kids with their parents. Everyone had a good time and that’s not surprising. The weather was perfect and the fishing was hot, thanks to repeated stocking by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Kilarc, which was constructed in 1903 to produce hydroelectric power, has been in a state of limbo for several years. Since March, 2007, when P.G.&E. failed to renew their long term operating license due to costs associated with doing so, Kilarc has been slated for decommissioning.

John Higley and Kelly Sackheim chatting at Kilarc Reservoir, photo by John Higley
I get the scoop from Kelly Sackheim about the current status of negotiations involving Kilarc.

For a variety of reasons, that has not yet taken place and that is a good thing. The picnics started out as a way to draw attention to the facility, which is a Shasta County gem well worth preserving. One of the bright spots of my recent visit was provided by Kelly Sackheim and Dick Ely, of Davis Hydro, a company that would like to keep Kilarc intact for future generations. Hearing their ideas was interesting and eye-opening. More power (pun intended) to them.

Kelly Sackheim and Dick Ely, of Davis Hydro, photo by John Higley
Kelly Sackheim and Dick Ely, of Davis Hydro, were on hand to let all attendees know that Kilarc hasn’t been forgotten.

Another highlight involved 13 year old Gavin Galliano, who was trying to catch a few trout with a poorly rigged rod and a reel with a nearly empty spool. With my fish already on ice--yes, I did fish for a while--I took the young man aside, re-rigged his terminal tackle, and loaned him some yellow PowerBait. Then we walked to the water and I showed him where to cast to fish I knew were not too far from the bank.

Thirteen year old Gavin Galliano seems pleased with the trout he caught during the annual Kilarc picnic. Photo by John Higley
Thirteen year old Gavin Galliano seems pleased with the trout he caught during the annual Kilarc picnic.

While I was standing there, he caught two nice rainbows, and after I walked away he got another one. His happy talk and smile was what fishing at Kilarc is all about.

Gavin Galliano catching a fish with his pole at Kilarc Reservoir, photo by John Higley
Once he got the hang of it, catching trout, while a big deal to Gavin, wasn’t all that difficult.

As I pointed out in previous articles, Kilarc has been planted heavily with catchable trout this summer. Even with no more stocking, the fishing will remain good for several weeks. If you hanker to catch a few trout, right now Kilarc is a good place to soak bait or cast a lure or fly. Don’t be surprised if you see me there...again!

Author and writer John Higley is a resident of Palo Cedro. His articles have appeared in outdoor magazines hundreds of times and his columns appear regularly at Higley has written four books the latest of which “Successful Turkey Hunting” was published in May, 2014 by Skyhorse Publishing in New York. This hard cover, full color book is being sold at Barnes and Noble Book Stores and on Amazon. Autographed copies are available direct from John Higley, P.O. Box 120, Palo Cedro, CA 96073. Cost is $28.95 postage paid.

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