Shasta Lake trout and landlocked King salmon

Andy Sanders of Redding, Ca. and his father, (older fella pictured below), found some great rainbow trout while fishing with Jeff Goodwin on Shasta Lake this week.

by Jeff Goodwin

Shasta Lake is getting another dose of very wet weather again this week. With all the rain, the lake could have possibly filled by now if water managers would have allowed it to do so.  It's way too early in the year to top off Shasta Lake so releases from Shasta Dam have remained very high all week.  We're experiencing some significant amounts of rainfall and the snowpack is something to behold.  All this water, whether it be rain or snow, has ended the drought in northern California and fishing on Shasta Lake looks great!

Now, while I've been concentrating on fishing Shasta Lake for Spotted bass the last few weeks, I've shifted my focus to the trout and land locked Kings.  With current water temps around 48-49 degrees, trout and salmon fishing can be tough.  I've had some good days and a few slow days, but I'm catching fish every trip out so far this week.  Shasta is holding up very well through these storms and I'd have to say it's in great shape.  The water color is very good and the debris in the lake is minimal.

I've been concentrating my efforts around the dam, Digger Bay, and the Dry Creek area.  This week I've found most of the rainbows and Kings to be sitting between 60' feet and 80', but have marked them above and below as well.  Most of my bites are coming in the 70-80' foot range consistently.  I'm trolling between 1.3-1.7 mph due to the very cool water temps.  My most effective color patterns have been baits in white or orange behind white or orange colored dodgers, although green dodgers with a green squid have taken fish as well.

Electronics are key right now and is the easiest way to find what depth the fish are holding.  There are literally salmon and trout everywhere, but working one area can be tough because the bite is slow.  I'm covering a lot of water and looking for biters, there just don't seem to be a lot in one place.  I've been trying different depths as well, but like I said, my bites are coming at 70-80'.

For those of you that have a boat but no downriggers, you are in luck!  There are dozens of creeks and drainage water coming into Shasta right now.  Not only are these creeks holding bass, the trout tend to gravitate to these areas this time of year as well.  Be prepared to fish some dirty water and bring your spin gear.  Nightcrawlers are a great bait in these areas right now, and the trout will readily eat whatever floats past them.  Try running some crank baits or spinner baits into the mouths of these creeks if bait fails.  

Another favorite method for me is a drop shot rig with a black/red flake worm, earth worm color, or an ox blood color worm.  These seem to get both the bass and trout to bite under these conditions. Don't forget scent!

I'd expect good fishing on Shasta Lake to be up and down, numbers-wise, but I think it's always worth a shot this time of the year.  With the winds blowing bait down toward the dam, I'd expect that area to continue to be a top producer.  The rainbows and kings are definitely keying in on the shad and their bellies are stuffed with them. That should give you some good direction on how to pattern your offerings on Shasta Lake.

Good luck, and enjoy another great week on Shasta Lake!

Jeff Goodwin is a full time Northern California fishing guide.  He guides year round for salmon, trout, steelhead, Kokanee, and bass on Northern California rivers and lakes. He fishes many bodies of water in the Redding area, but also guides the Sacramento River and Feather River during certain times of the year. Jeff can also be found on the California coast chasing ocean fresh King salmon and steelhead each year. To learn more about the fishing trips Jeff has to offer, please visit Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service.  You can also find him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or please feel free to call him anytime at (707) 616-1905.