Late summer lake salmon and trout bite is on!

Whiskeytown Reservoir - Whiskeytown, CA (Shasta County)

Jaynie Goodwin with a great Shasta Lake rainbow trout she caught while trolling a Dick Nite UV dodger and a Kokanee fly
Photo Credit: Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service

by Jeff Goodwin

NorCal water temps are on the drop and that means anglers are going to see an increase in their bites on their favorite lakes and reservoirs. The fish are still fairly deep making downriggers a necessity when trolling for landlocked King's, Kokanee salmon, and trout. I've been fishing both Shasta and Whiskeytown Lakes recently and I'm catching fish at 90' and 70' feet respectively. Because the cool thermoclines are still sitting at those depths, the trout and lake salmon are staying down where its cool. Things are about to change though, because I've seen both lakes come down about 4-5 degrees in just a week.

Shasta Lake is really fishing very well for both rainbow trout and King salmon. Places like Digger Bay, Shasta Dam, and Bridge Bay have been producing well for me and I'm catching limits every trip out. I rely a lot on my electronics, but don't be afraid to fish above or below the fish you are marking. In general, I'm finding most of my bites near the 90' mark. Multi pound King salmon and rainbow trout are feeding heavily on shad and their bellies are stuffed with them. Blue and white baits are working well for me, but I've seen some of my biggest rainbows come on my pink Kokanee fly's. PLine Sunrise 2.5" squid are one of my top baits currently and work even better with some Pro-Cure anchovy gel scent. Trolling Dick Nite UV dodgers at 1.5 - 1.7 mph in front of the baits seems to be pulling the most strikes. Don't let the soft bites fool you, because at 90' there isn't a lot of bounce in the rod tips. I've been surprised many times by the size of the trout when they finally get close to the boat.

Whiskeytown Lake is still fishing very good and 50-70' is where most of my bites have been coming from, although I caught fish recently at 85' just out of curiosity. Orange Kokanee fly's started out red hot some days, but the pink baits have been solid every trip out still. I recently started using some blue 2.5" PLine Sunrise squid and have been catching plenty of Kokanee and a few Kings on those baits as well. 1.1 - 1.5 mph is still the sweet speed for trolling for Kokanee. I'm still using corn dipped in garlic scent and can honestly say its making a solid difference with bites or no bites.

I'm still booking trips on the lakes and my clients are having a blast! I have been catching limits on every trip and my clients are going home with some nice big bags full of fillets. The Kokanee quality will begin to diminish as fall approaches when they take on their spawning colors so I would consider fishing within the next month or so before they turn. The rainbow trout and King salmon in Shasta Lake are looking great for the most part, but we are releasing a few with parasites. These fish will really shape up with the colder water coming, and with all the water we still have in Shasta and Whiskeytown Lakes, I think we are in for some really good fishing this fall!

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.

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