Shasta Lake bass fishing remains solid

Shasta Lake - Shasta Lake, CA (Shasta County)

Jason Vallotton of Redding, Ca. with one of many high water bass he caught on Shasta Lake during a heavy rain day. Photos courtesy of Jeff Goodwin

by Jeff Goodwin

At the time of this report, Shasta Lake is sitting at roughly 35' feet from full pool and is seeing an inflow of around 45,000 cfs.  Last Saturday's storms fed Shasta at one point, over 100,000 cfs of water into the lake giving it a significant weekend rise.  BOR water managers have been releasing additional water from Shasta Lake via Keswick Dam for flood control and it's currently running at 15,700 cfs.  That's a lot of water being released into the Sacramento River during a time where water is normally being held back to increase Shasta Lake water levels.  With Shasta Lake sitting at 120% of its historical levels for this time of the year, it goes without saying, we are having a phenomenal water year here in the north state.

All this water will certainly pave the way for some excellent fishing this year on Shasta Lake.  Last year was very good and I expect nothing less for this year.  Water levels will be high on the banks and a lot of areas that have not seen fish throughout the drought years will create new opportunities for bass anglers who will be able to fish the trees and bushes that sit high on the bank and only submerge during good water years.  In the spring when the bass and Crappie move into the cove areas to spawn, fishing in the trees and bushes can be nothing short of phenomenal.

In the meantime, winter conditions will persist and with a rising lake and changing water conditions, bass fishing will continue to be good but challenging.  I continue to locate schools of bass with my electronics and concentrate my efforts fishing over the bigger schools.  Starting on the bigger points next to deep water is a good bet, but if you're not making any fish, move into those secondary points to look for fish.  I'm finding bass in 40-'60' of water most days and avoid trying to fish any deeper if possible.  Once I locate a school of bass I'll sit on them and fish vertically with a 4" Jackall Cross Tail drop shot rig.  I will cast closer to shore and work my baits back into where I'm marking fish and will typically get bit right under the boat.  With water temps sitting at around 50 degrees, slowing down your presentation is very important.

Other baits have been working as well, namely the spider grubs, small 3.5" swim baits, and 5" stick baits.  With the water color turning a muddy color with the current influx of heavy rains, I'd stick with the darker greens, blacks, and browns or a white/chartreuse combo.  If you fish during rainy days with heavy runoff, look for the creeks coming into the lake to hold lots of bass.  The old standby baits for fishing the creeks are spinner baits with white bodies, (big) blades, and skirts.  A little chartreuse in these baits will help the bass see this presentation as well.  One last thing to consider would be a white/chartreuse under spin with a swim bait trailer as well.  These baits can really get bit good under dirty water conditions.

It's going to be an amazing year on Shasta Lake and now is the time to start making the most of it!  The bass will surely continue to cooperate, and with the stained water in the lake right now, I think you will see a better bite and a better grade of fish biting as well.  I'll be fishing Shasta Lake until my striped bass season starts in March and will continue to give weekly reports for all of you that enjoy reading them.  Good luck on the water, and please remember that there will be debris (wood/logs) floating in the lake now, and they can really ruin your day on the water if you hit one!

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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