Lake Hennessey, a drinking water supply for the city of Napa located five miles east of St. Helena, is dwarfed by its much larger neighbor, massive Lake Berryessa. Whereas the Bureau of Reclamations Berryessa covers 20,700 surface acres when full, Hennessey features only 850 surface acres.
However, what Lake Hennessey lacks in size is more than made up by the peace and solitude that anglers can experience there fishing for rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, catfish and other species. While Lake Berryessa turns into a maelstrom of personal watercraft, pleasure boats, and water skiers churning up the water in the spring and summer, Hennessey is limited to craft with outboard motors of 10 hp or less.
Besides providing anglers with relative solitude, the lake also has lots of shore fishing access and good launch ramp facilities. To top it off, the lake is surrounded by the beautiful pastoral scenery of vineyards mixed with oak and white pine forests that makes the Wine Country of Napa County famous throughout the world.
During the winter and spring, rainbow trout provide a solid fishery for shore anglers and boaters. The Department of Fish and Game stocks approximately 6,000 pounds of rainbows in the lake every year from November through April.
The numbers of fish we put in vary per plant, but we stock the lake approximately twice a month, said Bob Howard at the Silverados Fisheries Base. On our latest plant on January 26, we stocked 400 pounds of fish averaging 1 pound each.
Vineyards mixed with oak and white pine forests.
Although shore fishing with Power Bait, Nitro Bait, nightcrawlers and salmon eggs is a good bet in the winter and spring, boaters trolling with nightcrawlers behind dodgers or Needlefish and other lures do well on the lakes scrappy trout when the lake is clear.
The lake has a deep-water pool that allows trout to live throughout the summer and become holdovers, but fishing generally gets tough during the hot summers. Anglers will have to use downriggers at up to 80 feet deep to hook the trout.