Shasta Lake summer trout fishing.

SHASTA LAKE SUMMER FISHING

Shasta Lake mornings are pure magic and the trout fishing is just one of the things that make summer on Shasta Lake so special. Catching fish on northern California’s largest reservoir is most often considered a small bonus considering all of the great things you’ll see throughout the day.

Shasta Lake mornings are pure magic and the trout fishing is just one of the things that make summer on Shasta Lake so special. Catching fish on northern California’s largest reservoir is most often considered a small bonus considering all of the great things you’ll see throughout the day.

Its no secret that Shasta Lake summertime fishing is my most productive time of the year to fish for rainbow and brown trout. Its the the best season of the year to catch both big numbers and big fish all in one day! Yes, its hot on the lake most days and in the afternoon the water can be busy with houseboats, ski boats, and jet skis, but rarely is it a problem to find solitude on Shasta even at its peak in July through the end of August. Perfect weather, pristine water, and hundreds of thousands of trout guarantee great days of fishing on Shasta Lake in the summer. Many of my clients come back year after year for another experience of what they have often called, “the best fishing they have ever experienced”.

FINDING SUMMER TROUT ON SHASTA!

Shasta Lake is in a constant period of change each and every month of the year, but summertime brings the most consistent pattern I observe during the year, and the trout are by far the easiest to find beginning in late June and early July. With that point being stated, I consider the best summer trout fishing pattern on Shasta to be between the months of July, August, and September. Two factors make this time of the year on Shasta Lake predictable and easy to catch lots of trout. First, we see the primary food source for the trout, Thread Fin Shad, during late spring on through late fall in the main body of Shasta Lake. Secondly, the Shad are easily accessible to the trout in very large schools making for a constant food source that keeps the trout in a relatively small area of the lake. This energizes the Shasta Lake trout and they are on a Shad feeding frenzy and a good bite every day of the summer.

As the Shad show up in good numbers in late spring they will migrate down into the main body of Shasta Lake between the Pit River Bridge (I-5) and Shasta Dam where they will stay until fall. When the Shad first arrive, they can be found along the shorelines in the warmest water where they spawn and also feed on Plankton that are pushed by prevailing morning winds from the north that drive the Plankton blooms to Shasta’s south shore. This is important to note as it will serve anglers well during the summer when they are trying to locate feeding schools of trout or the nomadic trophy size rainbows and browns. Like all bodies of water, there is a food chain and if you pay attention, you will know that following the bottom of the food chain will lead you to the top of the food chain. This is key when looking for trophy size rainbows and browns. The gamefish are never far from the baitfish.

Find the Shad and you’ll find the trout in Shasta Lake!

Find the Shad and you’ll find the trout in Shasta Lake!

So now that we have an idea of why the Shad are so important, lets look at where we will typically find them during the peak of the summer fishing season. Shad are temperature sensitive as are many species of fish. In Shasta Lake, Shad can often be found near the surface in the spring and in the fall. The water surface temperatures are such that these Shad will stay in the upper end of the water column in Shasta Lake until summer arrives and the water surface warms above 70 degrees. When we start to see temps above the mid 70’s and into the 80’s the Shad will start to drop deeper and deeper below those warmer surface temps and stay in water that accommodates their comfort level. As they go deeper, you will find that they tend to school up and form massive bait balls will be easy to spot on sonar. Like most baitfish, shad will ball up at an attempt to protect themselves from feeding trout, salmon, bass, etc.

HOW DEEP DO I FISH?

In the picture above there are a few things to consider when trying to figure out where to drop your trolling gear should you see the same thing on your screen when you are fishing. In this example, the top 20’ of the water in this screen shot shows a bright color line. This interpretation by the sonar unit indicates warm water or a warm water section of the lake. This line of warm water can extend down as far as the warm water progresses throughout the summer months. Its a great clue in most cases, that this area of the lake will hold baitfish and warm water species such as spotted bass in Shasta Lake. The green dots you see on the screen in the warm water are likely bass or smaller fish up in the feeding zone where the Shad are.

The long green lines represent the downrigger balls and also can help show the angler where their lines are traveling in relation to the locations of the fish/baitfish. As you can see, I like to run my baits in the zone where warm water meets cold. I’m also trolling my gear, in this case, at the top of the massive bait ball. Trolling gear in or above the bait is a good practice because trout will be looking up at the bait in warmer water while they occupy the cooler water temps below the bait. if you look closely, you’ll see fish activity in the warm water zone. Active fish will often appear as streaks, long arches, or even long lines as they follow trolling gear. The last thing I’ll point out are the 3 big fish that are sitting down at the 60’ line. These fish are clearly sitting down in the dark and are not active or anywhere near the bait school suspended at the 40’ line. You can drop lines down to 60’ in an attempt to get these fish to bite, but they are clearly not feeding and are more difficult to catch. This picture tells a story and if you put all the pieces together, you’ll understand whats going on down there and where you should have your gear.

The use of a temperature and depth reading device is very helpful and takes all the guesswork of where you should have your gear set. This shot was taken on 6/7/19 and shows that the surface water temp is 69.3 degrees, my downrigger ball is at 54’ feet and the temperature at the ball is 55.5 degrees. This depth yielded a 5 lb brown trout for one of my clients today so its worth a look, don’t you think?

The use of a temperature and depth reading device is very helpful and takes all the guesswork of where you should have your gear set. This shot was taken on 6/7/19 and shows that the surface water temp is 69.3 degrees, my downrigger ball is at 54’ feet and the temperature at the ball is 55.5 degrees. This depth yielded a 5 lb brown trout for one of my clients today so its worth a look, don’t you think?

Every week of the summer this picture will change and you will make small adjustments to stay on top of the feeding trout. Without a doubt, you’ll likely find the trout and baitfish to be a little deeper every week until fall arrives and the lake starts to cool off again. You can almost certainly count on fishing deeper every week you search for Shasta Lake trout during summer. As an example, in May, most of the trout will be in the 20-30’ mark. By June, you’ll find them in 40-60’ of water, and by July, 60’ plus. Almost every year, I’ll finish my summer trout season fishing below 110’ feet of water. There are no set rules for what depth to start fishing, but I find that most of the time I start setting my gear at 60-65 degrees, wherever that may be. My reasoning is that I know the Shad will often times be above that temperature line, and the trout, (active feeders) will be out of their preferred temperature (mid to low 50’s) looking for a meal before dropping back down into the cold water zone.

WHAT KIND OF GEAR DO I NEED?

Gear selection is a broad subject and I could go on forever writing about all the choices you have out there. Because you’ll be fishing deep in the summer months, downriggers are a top choice for getting your gear down where the trout are. There other ways to get your gear deep and a little research will present many options for you. As far as baits to send down on the riggers, if you stick to one pattern for the July-September timeframe on Shasta Lake, stick with what the trout are feeding on, a Shad pattern! Small silver spoons, flies, hoochies, etc. in the 1”-2” range are top producers early in the summer. As summer wears on, the size of your presentations can increase and by summers end a 3” presentation may be a perfect size.

When you catch trout and harvest them for the dinner table, check out the size of the Shad in their stomach’s. Most often the Shad will be about the size of a silver #1 Dick Nite Spoon. Stick a small hologram eyeball to it and bingo, you have a perfect Shad imitation that will get bit over and over again. Match the hatch and you will find success. Another very effective piece of tackle is a small dodger in front of that spoon you’re fishing. Remember, Shad are a schooling fish and a dodger looks like a small group of baitfish. The straggler (the small Dick Nite spoon) is the easy target and gets bit time and time again.

Intuition plays a major role in my day, every day. Often times, turning my back to clients to let lines out gives me a few moments to focus on a plan for my next move. Brief breaks in interaction or conversation with my clients are almost always a period of concentration directed at what needs to be done to get more bites.

Intuition plays a major role in my day, every day. Often times, turning my back to clients to let lines out gives me a few moments to focus on a plan for my next move. Brief breaks in interaction or conversation with my clients are almost always a period of concentration directed at what needs to be done to get more bites.

Clients that fish with me know that I use a lot of different techniques and different types and sizes of lures. I couldn’t possibly write all of my little tricks of the trade in this article alone, but I can tell you that most of the tactics and gear I use are already being used by thousands of anglers and fellow charter captains. You all live in a world where every piece of information imaginable is at your finger tips via the internet. The only thing that can’t be learned or provided in written form is intuition. There are no shortcuts to gaining intuition, its something thats developed by spending hundreds or thousands of hours on the water trying to catch fish.

SHASTA LAKE TROPHY TROUT

Bay Rat Lures shallow diving stick baits will produce big trout sometimes when nothing else will.

Bay Rat Lures shallow diving stick baits will produce big trout sometimes when nothing else will.

Anyone who follows my reports and blogs knows I like to hunt for big Shasta Lake rainbows and browns. Its not hard to catch a big trout on Shasta Lake as there are many. It is difficult to catch them day after day and some days seems impossible to catch them at all. They are finicky to say the least and most days require that you do everything right. Its good luck to catch a big multi pound trout a few times a year, but catching over a hundred 5 lb. to 10 lb. class trout in a year isn’t just luck. Simply put, its hard work that requires hundreds of hours on the water.

Trinidad Tackle Optimizer spoons are a favorite when it comes to presenting a high vibration, large profile option for big trout.

Trinidad Tackle Optimizer spoons are a favorite when it comes to presenting a high vibration, large profile option for big trout.

The common denominator involved in catching trophy trout involves two things. Confidence and patience. Many new clients ask what they need to bring for their day on the lake when fishing with me. Besides the obvious, I ask them to have a two rod license and to bring a PFA (positive fishing attitude). Most professional athletes will tell you that their play is 90% mental and 10% physical. In my mind, fishing professionally is no different. Keeping your head in the game until the last line comes in at the end of the day is the biggest success factor when fishing for trophy trout. I do most of the work for my clients in that area, but if you have high expectations of catching big trout everyone in the boat needs to contribute to the positive vibe in the boat. Big fish can feel your doubt and will readily turn a cheek to your low energy presentations.

Arctic Fox Trolling Flies are a great presentation when stealth is required to get strikes from big, weary browns and rainbows.

Arctic Fox Trolling Flies are a great presentation when stealth is required to get strikes from big, weary browns and rainbows.

I’ve caught big trout on 5” herring and I’ve caught them on a small Arctic Fox Trolling fly. At different times big fish will react to a wide variety of presentations. I’ve written about several lure/fly presentations over the years that I use to catch big trout on Shasta Lake. I only write about them because they absolutely work. If you read my social media at all, you have seen comments on my posts by many anglers explaining their successes using a number of the products I support. Tackle manufacturers such as Trinidad Tackle (Trinidadtackle.com), Bay Rat Lures (Bayratlures.com), and Arctic Fox Trolling Flies (trollingflies.com) can all attest to the increase in sales they have seen because of the success these presentations bring to the big fish anglers and fishing guides.

If you are specifically targeting big trophy class trout in Shasta Lake, these three presentations are almost always my key to success on any given trip. one thing that makes these items so effective is that they can all be used in combination (at the same time). I have managed to get double hook ups with big browns trolling an Optimizer spoon and an Arctic Fox Trolling Fly at the same time at the same speed. That my friends is a piece of info to remember!

FINAL THOUGHTS FOR SUMMERTIME SHASTA LAKE TROPHY TROUT.

I’ve given you a lot of information to digest for the upcoming summer season on Shasta Lake, but not too much I think. Everything I have written has helped me find success on Shasta Lake and has helped me become the #1 booked fishing guide on the lake as well. Not only have I helped put hundreds of people on some of the best fishing they have ever experienced, i’ve also helped dozens and dozens of anglers become next level fishermen that are now catching their biggest rainbows and browns ever. I am humbled by the relationship I’ve developed with my clients and acquaintances on Shasta Lake and I wake up grateful every day knowing I have the opportunity to be a fishing guide on this beautiful and bountiful body of water. I hope I’ve helped the readers of this article in some way and hope that many of you will choose to come experience first hand catching some big rainbows and browns with me this summer. Tight lines!

Captain Jeff Goodwin

2019 Sacramento River King salmon fishing!

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Big Kings and sunny days on the Sacramento River beginning July 16th, 2019.

2019 SACRAMENTO RIVER KING SALMON

The 2019 Sacramento River King salmon season is set! A forecasted run of 120,000 Kings in the Sacramento River means plenty of fishing fun for our clients and with a (2) King limit, that also means coolers full of fresh Kings for the bbq! Two day anglers will be able to possess (4) Kings so for all you long distance clients, that means a trip very worthwhile.

This is what I’d call a bubble season in that the forecasts are higher than we typically see annually, especially the past few years. What that means, or should mean to most, is that this season isn’t one you want to sit out or plan salmon trips elsewhere. The season opens July 16th, but we don’t typically see our best fishing until August. By September, we’re in the peak periods of the run which will last well into October. Our late fall season usually starts around November after we’ve seen our first few periods of rain which will pull the late fall Kings up river towards Coleman Hatchery in Anderson, Ca. Mid November thru mid December can be very good fishing for these big bright Kings on the Sacramento River.

Bright King salmon on the Sacramento River are abundant from July through September near Corning, Ca. where we fish the early season.

Bright King salmon on the Sacramento River are abundant from July through September near Corning, Ca. where we fish the early season.

2019 KING SALMON OPENER

The Sacramento River opens to King salmon fishing below the Red Bluff diversion dam on July 16th. Since removal of the diversion dam, the season opener hasn’t been all that great. The salmon don’t stay in the lower river below the fish ladder at the dam, they now just shoot up to the Anderson area where the Coleman Hatchery is located. We’ll still fish in the Red Bluff area though and often find some really nice Kings from July into August. If you want to get into chrome river salmon, July and August are always a great option. Not as many Kings around, but very good quality fish.

On August 1st, the Sacramento River above Red Bluff opens and thats sort of the official kick off of the King salmon season now days. Guides and anglers from all over will converge on the Barge Hole which is located at the mouth of Battle Creek on the Sacramento River. Its not uncommon these days to see 40, 50, even 60+ boats in the Barge Hole on August 1st. Its a busy place to fish that day, but the action can be among the very best you can find in any one river in the west these days. Numerous boats with numerous rods bent over on big, bright King salmon all day long. Most boats will have limits before noon and then its almost every year that there is an extended calm after the storm in the Barge Hole.

Big Sacramento River Kings are no joke and pull as hard as any King salmon anywhere!

Big Sacramento River Kings are no joke and pull as hard as any King salmon anywhere!

SACRAMENTO RIVER FALL SALMON

By September our salmon season is in full swing and we’ll most often be found fishing down in the Corning area below Woodson Bridge. The bulk of the Sacramento River fall run Kings will be moving through that section of the river at that time. Most of the Kings we catch in September are in great shape and make for great table fare. They move through the lower river quickly until they reach the cool water in the Woodson Bridge area where they will stack up in the holes and rest before pushing further up river.

This section of the river is a relatively slow moving section of the river, but has all the feature of most rivers like riffles, runs, and pools. Our boats are all designed with this type of river in mind and we most often drift roe, covering lots of water and putting baits in from of a lot of fish. This typically translates in high success rates for our clients on our boats and is very easy for most of our clients to perform on their own. Catching a big King salmon on a spin rid is an absolute challenge and a lot of fun too! Drift fishing includes an active approach to catching these big salmon and you’re not just sitting in a seat all day waiting for a salmon to swim into your presentation. We go find them and thats why we catch so many using this technique.

Come fish with us and bring family or friends, its a great trip for all!

Come fish with us and bring family or friends, its a great trip for all!

SACRAMENTO LATE FALL KING SALMON

The late fall run of King salmon typically show after the first few rains of the October-November timeframe. These fish have spent another few months in saltwater and are typically the bigger of the fall and late fall runs of Kings. Its not as big of a run in numbers, but its the size and quality of these Kings that attract anglers from all over the country. The weather isn’t as nice, and it can be cold, but when you bag a few of these beauties, its easy to forget about being uncomfortable for a long while.

The late fall season is much less pursued and the fair weather fishermen are at home staying warm or taking advantage of their hunting seasons elsewhere. That means light pressure on the river and plenty of solitude for you and your group on the water. We primarily back troll big bait wrapped plugs for these cold water kings and wait for the afternoons to break out the drift rods. It can ba a slower paced day that can involve a warm thermos of coffee, something on the boat bbq, and a little time next to the proper heater keeping the chill off. Plenty of time to relax and kick back before that big King burries the rod and heads toward the ocean!

Big Late fall King on the Sacramento River with our Captains Justin Thompson and Kenny Turner!

Big Late fall King on the Sacramento River with our Captains Justin Thompson and Kenny Turner!

BOOK YOUR 2019 KING SALMON TRIP

Booking your 2019 Sacramento River King salmon fishing trip is easy and we have (3) great guides fishing King salmon again this year. That means we an accommodate groups of 18 anglers on any given day, but we typically only fish the people that book their day of fishing with us. This means that we are a guide service, not an open charter boat fleet. Private trips are our forte and we have made our fishing trips a very personal experience for our clients. We will run open boat trips on occasion so single anglers can get in on the great fishing as well, even if they don’t have another person to bring with them.

Booking your trip now is a great idea as we anticipate a lot of bookings this season with all the good salmon fishing ahead. You can book a trip on my website, email me, call me direct, or even send a text message. I will get back to you and help get your Sacramento River King salmon fishing trip on the books!

Thank you, and we’re looking forward to having a great salmon fishing season with our great clients again this year! See you on the water!

Captain Jeff Goodwin










Shasta lake receives Kokanee salmon plant!

Shasta Lake Kokanee salmon?

Its been over 40 years since Shasta Lake has contained populations of Kokanee salmon, but as of Monday May 13th, Shasta now has Kokanee salmon swimming in its emerald green waters once again. A coordinated effort between inland fisheries conservation groups and the Department of Fish and Wildlife finally came together resulting in a healthy plant of 87,000 fingerling Kokanee in the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake.

5/13/2019 87,000 Kokanee salmon being planted in Shasta Lake!

5/13/2019 87,000 Kokanee salmon being planted in Shasta Lake!

Regional CDFW Managers and Fisheries Biologists carefully reviewed the feasibility of planting Kokanee in Shasta Lake, and once the data pointed in a favorable direction for re introduction, the move was made to allocate the 87,000 Kokanee for Shasta Lake. Regional Biologist, Monty Currier has been working on this project for quite a few years, and after an extensive effort on all levels, this Kokanee plant project was implemented. Many other conservation organizations such as the Nor Cal Guides and Sportsmans Association, Kokanee Power, and the California Inland Fisheries Foundation played a role in supporting this program from its inception.

Monty Currier said the plant location was carefully considered and will give the Kokanee salmon the best chance of survival, hopefully placing them in the best position to spawn in the favorable river conditions that the McCloud River has to offer spawning salmonids. Its cool water and adequate gravel beds will surely be the best conditions for a successful spawn in a few years. It will take time to see just how well the Kokanee do in Shasta Lake, but they were said to be very plentiful back in the 70’s when they were last known to occupy Shasta Lake.

Fingerling Kokanee salmon planted in Shasta Lake on 5/13/2019

Fingerling Kokanee salmon planted in Shasta Lake on 5/13/2019

Kokanee salmon do very well in neighboring Whiskeytown and Trinity Lakes so it stands to reason that they will do very well in Shasta too. There is an abundance of Plankton blooms in the rich and fertile waters in Shasta and access to cold water year round is a bonus as well. The Kokanee salmon were hatched and raised as fertile fingerlings, and unlike the King salmon in Shasta Lake, are not triploid (infertile) fish. Its quite possible that the Kokanee in Shasta could take hold as the dominant salmon species in Shasta looking into the future.

Kokanee salmon are a very popular game fish here in the west and being a landlocked Sockeye salmon, they are believed by many to be the best eating salmon known to mankind. They have the potential to grow into a multi pound fish, and if their numbers continue to stay strong as they grow into mature adults, Shasta lake could turn into a premier destination for Kokanee anglers from all around. Whiskeytown Lake already draws a big crowd from anglers all over the country fish there annually for Kokanee. Shasta Lake is already touted as one of the top trout and bass fishing destinations in California. Having healthy populations of big Kokanee would surely throw Shasta Lake into a next level inland salmon fishing destination.

Tens of thousands of Kokanee salmon planted into Shasta Lake.

Tens of thousands of Kokanee salmon planted into Shasta Lake.

Time will tell how the Kokanee will do in Shasta Lake this time around, but its sure to have many Kokanee fishing enthusiasts sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see what the next few years ahead holds for this potentially attractive fishing attraction to Shasta Lake.

Anglers across the west haven’t seen a whole lot of feel good stories in the world of fisheries management, but thanks to the efforts of CDFW and California fisheries conservation groups, this is a project that I think we can all feel good about, don’t you?




Spring trout fishing on Shasta Lake.

Shasta Lake spring brown trout!

Shasta Lake spring brown trout!

Shasta Lake spring trout fishing.

The spring brown trout fishing is in full swing on Shasta Lake. The lake is in its spring transition and teeming with life after a long hard winter. The Carpenter ant hatch is going, the Plankton blooms are huge, and the Shad are starting the migration down into the main body of Shasta Lake where they will soon be spawning. This is a magical time on the lake with amazing weather and a shot at some of the years biggest brown trout anglers will catch all year. It seems like the longest winter ever, but its over now and time to go trophy hunting.

Trout trolling depths for Shasta Lake.

With weather already exceeding 90 degrees this past week, we’ve seen the surface temps rise from a cool 48 degrees up to a really warm 71 degrees. Today is another day of hot weather so I only anticipate the surface temps will continue to rise. Most years the lake surface will reach 80 plus degrees before it starts to build a thicker and thicker layer of warm water near the surface. As this warm water developed, so does the thermocline (where mark water meets cold water). This is an important progression for the lake, but also for the anglers who fish for trout.

Trolling in or above the thermocline is important because most often, the fish that are actively seeking food or will be the biters. I have a few tools which help me find the best water temps to place my gear in, maximizing my time in the strike zone. First is a useful tool called the Fish Hawk X4D. Its an attached device I send down into the water along with my downrigger ball. It has the ability to determine, depth at the ball, temp at the ball, and speed at the ball. Depth and temperature are what I may attention to the most. I can clearly see where the temperature changes and at what depth, exactly. This helps me zero in on the most productive water temperatures to catch trout. You can also see the thermocline on sonar and will display as a clutter line at the depth the thermocline exists. In the warmer months, bite patterns show that the low 60’s is a good place to start trolling your gear.

This is a good temperature range because its just below the water that the Shad will be holding in and also below the bass that will start to suspend below the Shad balls. If you are trolling and catching lots of bass, drop your lines down. The trout will often times be holding in cooler water below the bass and Shad. This pattern holds throughout the summer and all you have to do to find trout in Shasta Lake is to keep your gear near the thermocline. It starts around 20-30’ most years and will be in excess of 100’ feet by early fall.

The Fish Hawk X4D keeps my gear in the strike zone every day!

The Fish Hawk X4D keeps my gear in the strike zone every day!

Trolling gear for Shasta Lake trout.

Some of the most effective presentations for Shasta Lake in the spring are often going to match the main food source for fish in Shasta Lake, and thats Threadfin Shad. Small spoons, stick baits, squid skirts, or even brined Shad bait can be used for trolling for trout in Shasta Lake and is a very effective way to catch them. Any of these lures or baits behind a small dodger can be deadly, and will attract a lot of strikes. A small 6” Trinidad Tackle dodger in front of any of these baits is a great option as well!

Trout this time of the year can be found above 20’ feet, but soon they will be much deeper, near colder water. I tell my clients that the trout will live in their comfort zone, but will move out of that area to find food. Their food source isn’t often found in the cooler water temps, its up above them in warmer water. Thats why I start trolling in the low 60’s. Its a good median temperature thats above holding trout but close to where the Shad will be holding in the high 60 degree water.

The key to keeping your gear in the strike zone is to have some sort of system to get your gear down to where the fish are. People often wonder why fishing is so hard for them in the summer when the water is warm. Its because the fish aren’t up in the really warm water, they are down where the cold water is. There are many ways to get your gear down to the fish these days, but I would say downriggers are by far the most commonly used tool for the job.

My Cannon Digi-Troll 10’s are amazing, but any downrigger, manual or electric will get the job done.

My Cannon Digi-Troll 10’s are amazing, but any downrigger, manual or electric will get the job done.

Trolling speeds and locations.

Now that your all set with finding the right depth and armed with all the right gear, its important to know what your trolling speed should be and where you should be trolling. I tell my clients that trolling speeds can range from 1.5 mph to 4.0 mph, but the gear you have on every line must have the capability to present properly at any given speed. For example, if you are running big Optimizer spoons at 3.8 mph, you don’t want to have a line out with a 6” dodger attached. The dodger just won’t present properly at that speed and will be a useless line in the water. The same goes for the Optimizer spoon being trolled at 1.7 mph where the dodger will shine. they just don’t go together and shouldn’t be trolled at the same speed. Check your lures next to the boat to see how they are working before letting lines out, its critical. If your fishing 4 line, fish them with gear that will run right at your chosen trolling speed. if I’m running big spoons, I will often times run all my rods with those spoons. if I’m running with dodgers, all the lines will have dodgers. I find that the one exception is the Bay Rat Lures I use every day. They, like a lot of stick baits will run in a wide speed range. Trolled fast or slow, they will catch fish.

So now that we are running our gear properly, and at the right depth, where should we be trolling? Well, right now you can find trout at the tops of the arms all the way to Shasta Dam. As summer arrives and as the thermocline develops, most of the trout will be down in the main body of the lake or low in the arms where all the Shad are. Early on, before and after they spawn, the Shad will be cruising the shorelines of the main lake, but as the warm water layer developed, they will push out over open (deep) water where they will suspend and sit in their comfort zone where they will feed on Plankton. Anyone with a fish finder/sonar unit will be able to locate them. The Shad balls are obvious and you’ll be marking larger game fish around them. This make it easy to find the trout and tells you where you should be fishing.

Shasta Lake is a big body of water, but it gets really small in the summer and its easy to find the trout. Just follow the principles I put out for you and build on them to be a successful trout fisherman on this amazing fishery!

Bait balls and big fish marks help you zero in on the trout in Shasta Lake.

Bait balls and big fish marks help you zero in on the trout in Shasta Lake.


Shasta Lake brown trout fishing report!

A Slow Start to Brown Trout Season

2019 8+ pound Shasta Lake brown trout caught last week by Matt Coppens of Chico, Ca.

2019 8+ pound Shasta Lake brown trout caught last week by Matt Coppens of Chico, Ca.

Shasta Lake brown trout fishing is seeing a slower start than we’ve seen in years past, but with all the rain and snow we’ve seen this winter, I’m not surprised. Its a double edge sword in that we have had a slower bite the past few weeks, but we’ve also watched Shasta Lake nearly fill to its capacity in a very short period of time. Abundant water is key in maintaining abundant rainbow and brown trout populations of healthy trout populations in big reservoirs like Shasta Lake.

We’ve had some cold water in the main body of Shasta Lake this winter season. 48 degrees has dominated the temperature reading on my fish finder for over a month now, but just over the past few days, I’ve seen a slow warming trend which should kick start our brown trout bite.

Brown Trout Fishing Recommendations

I’m typically trolling big spoons and stick baits, like Optimizer Spoons and Bay Rat Lures, to attract bites from the big Shasta Lake browns. This technique also gets a lot of bites from the big rainbows as well. Since the big browns seem to orient to structure this tie of the year, you will most often times see me trolling close to the shoreline over big points are steep rock walls. These are the most productive areas right now and will be even through the summer months. I’ll catch them in open water as well, but that’s a pretty random approach to consistently finding these big trout right now.

Brown Trout Trolling Speeds

Trolling speeds will vary and so will depths of my lures during the spring brown trout bite. I catch most of my browns in the top ten feet of the water column very early and then drop down to 20-30’ feet when the sun comes up. I pay special attention to the surface conditions and will fish higher with a wind chop on the lake is present and will drop down deeper if glassy surface conditions persist with no wind. Rarely do I need to drop below 30’ feet to find the big ones this time of the year. Tolling speeds will vary, but 3.5-4.0 can be a great speed to start at. Not only are you covering a lot of shoreline very quickly, you are also triggering bites from the big aggressive brown trout. If you can’t seem to find the aggressive bites, slow things down a bit and sometimes that makes a big difference. This trout will chase a spoon or stick bait trolled fast, but sometimes they don’t want to expend the energy and need a slower presentation to trigger a bite. I have found that a good mid range speed to cover both bites is to run about 2.8 mph.

Try these tactics for yourself this spring or book a trip with me and shorten your brown trout fishing learning curve. Spring is my favorite time of the year to chase big browns and when conditions are right, the brown trout fishing on Shasta Lake can be great! I’ll be fishing Shasta Lake all spring and summer so be sure to look for my fishing reports here and also on Facebook and Nor Cal Fish Reports.

Shasta Lake spring browns!

It’s Brown Trout Fishing Season

Shasta Lake brown trout love the rain!

Shasta Lake brown trout love the rain!

Shasta Lake weathered a descent storm this past week and Redding saw over 2 1/2" of rain the past few days.  The lake is continuing to rise and were just 60' feet from full pool.  This is great news, especially with more significant rain and snowfall in the forecast.  Water temps in Shasta Lake are hovering in the 50-51 degrees, but temps in the 40's can be found up high in the arms where the cool mountain water continues to roll in. Brown trout fishing remains solid and I'm excited to report that a few browns are being caught just about every trip out.  The browns have recovered from the spawn and are beginning to take on the appearance of our typical spring brown trout.  Two, maybe three weeks should show some quality browns being caught and should remain so for the season ahead up until around October when they head up into the rivers to spawn again.

Brown Trout Lures and Fishing Recommendations

Time to start thinking about fishing Shasta Lake for brown trout!

Time to start thinking about fishing Shasta Lake for brown trout!

 I'm going to start focusing my efforts on structure and it won't be long until some of our biggest brown trout of the year will be swimming into a waiting net behind my boat.  Spoons, stick baits, and fly's are going to lead the effort aimed at catching this years big browns.  I'll be running brighter colors in colored water and a more natural bait presentation during greener water periods on Shasta.  Cold waters will continue to slow these fish down, but because of this seasonal water condition, keep those trolling depths in the 10'-20' mark and down to 30' with clear skies and a flat/glassy water surface.  if your not familiar with snap weights, now would be a good time to look into how to use them when trolling your local waters for trout.  I rely on them heavily during the spring to get my lures down when I'm towing them with inline planers off to the sides and away from the boat.  Some days the browns will take baits off downriggers with long setbacks, but others they won't touch them.  Your only bites will often times come off the planer rods, some of which will have to be dragging spoons or stickbalts  down 10'-20' feet.  


Book A Brown Trout Fishing Trip

Shasta Lake winter/spring brown trout!

Shasta Lake winter/spring brown trout!

There's your tip for the week and an accurate report to refer to before heading out this next week.  Its gonna be a great year and my calendar is already showing it.  If you want to fish for browns on Shasta Lake in March or April (prime time) you need to get on the books before my available dates are gone!  I handle all of my own brown trout trips, but thats because I have some great striper guides who will be staying down in striper town (Colusa) all spring and can help pick up some of my overflow bookings. That being said, it will keep me free to get one of those 15 lb browns for a lucky client this year!  Its this years goal, and I'm confident it will happen for one of you out there!

2019 Sacramento ISE Show Jan 17th-20th.

Come see me and lats talk fishing!

Come see me and lats talk fishing!

This year I’ll be working at the Shimano booth #3239 in the pavilion building at this years Sacramento ISE Show. I’m one of the few guides in northern California fortunate enough to work on their Pro-Staff and consider it to be a privilege to say the least. Shimano is undeniably the industry leader in the rod and reel market and with so much competition, staying on top these days takes a lot of hard work! I do what I can to help, but in the grand scheme of things, I consider my contribution to be minor. I do my best through my guide business, website, and social media outlets to bring more customers to Shimano now and always will. I’ve invested a lot of time and money into my business and consider Shimano to be a major contributor to my success.

Shimano also owns G.Loomis fishing rods, and has so since the late 90’s when they purchased the company from legendary rod builder, Gary Loomis. I was on the G.Loomis guide program when I started guiding in the early 90’s back when Gary Loomis still owned the company and felt privileged to represent his company from the earliest years of my fishing career. G.Loomis rods were industry leaders back then and still are today. G.Loomis rods are still manufactured in Woodland Washington where the company started many, many years ago. I lived in Washington for many years and passed by the G.Loomis factory many times, but never had a chance to stop in and get the factory tour. Perhaps someday I will stop in and get that long overdue experience.

This will be the first year in several years Shimano is making an appearance at the ISE show in Sacramento and I believe its long overdue. Shimano’s presence at the show will be well received as there are thousands of attendees that will surely enjoy the opportunity to talk to the Shimano Pro Staffers and to get to see a good number of products Shimano has to offer the fishing world. I’m very excited to be able to talk to all of the booth visitors and look forward to sharing my Knowledge of the rods and reels I use when fishing clients on the bodies of water I work on. I’m known throughout the industry for my passion for fishing and everyone knows I am always willing to help clients and other anglers to become better fishermen in any way that I can.

Working for Shimano this week is just one of the ways I can help impart some of my fishing knowledge to other anglers who I’m able to talk to at the show. My point here is that I’m looking forward to talking with you all about fishing with, and using the Shimano gear, so please feel comfortable when approaching me while you are at the show. Its why I’m going to be there and I really do look forward to talking with my old friends and making some new ones while I’m there as well. Have a great time at the show and I’ll be looking forward to talking with you all!

Shasta Lake browns are back on the bite!

Shasta browns are back in their fall/winter migration pattern and we are catching them now!

Shasta browns are back in their fall/winter migration pattern and we are catching them now!

A November full moon and a water temperature drop into the high 50’s has finally kicked off the fall/winter migration pattern. a lot of browns spawn in October in the upper tributaries and we’re seeing those fish going back into the system. We will also see browns headed up river to spawn through the winter months as well. When we’re chasing big weary browns, the bites are few and far between, but some days we’re surprised by a good number of bites. A good day in my book is a brown trout per rod, but sometimes clients will hook 2 or even 3 big browns each. Either way, just one of these big browns can be, and is a fish of a lifetime for most people who fish with us.

Great fishery for the kids because no skill or experience is required to catch these big trophy browns. It can be a game of patience, but the rainbows usually keep us busy in-between yje big bites we’re after!

Great fishery for the kids because no skill or experience is required to catch these big trophy browns. It can be a game of patience, but the rainbows usually keep us busy in-between yje big bites we’re after!

The brown fishing should hold steady if the water conditions stay fairly green and free from a lot of debris. Theres almost always somewhere on Shasta where we can find clean water though. The brown trout fishing has been great the past few years after a big hatchery plant about 4 yrs ago. CDFW has tripped over a gold mine and they have acknowledged the value of this fishery by ramping up the numbers of browns planted in Shasta Lake this year. They have already started planting catchable size browns in a few areas of the lake and have also begun to fill some of the net pens at some of the Shasta Lake marinas.

Three nice Shasta Lake browns for this young man today!

Three nice Shasta Lake browns for this young man today!

With a naturally re-producing population of browns in Shasta lake augmented with tens of thousands of hatchery planted browns, Shasta Lake will undoubtedly become the top brown trout fishery in the west. Its likely already holding the title, its just been flying under the radar for several decades. As word gets out and anglers begin to realize just how good the fishery is, we will likely see a surge in the number of anglers we will see fishing for them. Its a big lake, and in my opinion, it can handle the pressure a lot of smaller bodies of water simply can’t. From a professional standpoint, I’m really happy to see the attention Shasta is getting and my business on the lake has blown up in just a few years. I know its boosting local business, both on and off the lake, and its looking like a big win for everyone who’s been touched by the presence of these very popular sport fish.

Brown trout #4 for the Moore boys today!

Brown trout #4 for the Moore boys today!

The yearly cycle for these browns for me begins in November. I fish them through the winter months as they migrate up and down the different arms of the lake. By February, most of the browns are back in the lake and can be found in the different areas they occupy before moving down to the main body of the lake when the water begins to warm and the shad schools move into the main body of the lake as well. By early summer, just about every area of the lower lake will hold brown trout. You can hunt them near structure where they hand out waiting to ambush their prey, or you can look for actively feeding browns amidst the shad schools out in open water. By summers end, the browns head up the channels towards the cool waters of the spawning grounds in the headwaters of Shasta Lake and seemingly disappear until November when the whole cycle starts all over again.

If catching big browns on one of Californias most spectacular bodies of water is of interest to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I’ll do everything I can to help you catch a big brown trout you’ll never forget!

If catching big browns on one of Californias most spectacular bodies of water is of interest to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I’ll do everything I can to help you catch a big brown trout you’ll never forget!

I have lots of available dates during the winter months but if you’re looking for a prime date in the spring or early summer, booking sooner than later is your best bet. Especially if your time to fish is limited. I take deposits on distant reservations only, and if for some reason I believe the fishing won’t be good or conditions are poor, I’m happy to reschedule your trip or refund your deposit without hesitation. I believe its going to be another great year and its only going to get better in the years to come. Tight lines!

Sac River Late Fall King salmon is fishing wide open!

Big Sacramento River King salmon are crushing plugs in the Anderson area! Call today and book your Late Fall salmon fishing trip! The salmon season ends in (4) weeks!

Big Sacramento River King salmon are crushing plugs in the Anderson area! Call today and book your Late Fall salmon fishing trip! The salmon season ends in (4) weeks!

Sacramento River King salmon are crushing big plugs in the Anderson area right now and we’re seeing one of the best late fall king salmon seasons in years! No crowds and plenty of beautiful chrome bright fish. Silver sides mean red meat and thats what we’re seeing daily now. The limit is one fish per person, but we’re seeing limits most days and the fish are running 15 to 30 lbs! Thats a lot of meat for the smoker or bbq this holiday season!

We’re seeing ocean fresh fillets from these bright King salmon!

We’re seeing ocean fresh fillets from these bright King salmon!

There are more big fish on the way and if this rain next weeks provided a little water color, we should see a big push of salmon the last few weeks in December, if not before. Call today and book your Late Fall salmon fishing trip! We have a few boats available with top guides at the helm to get you into some great fishing! The salmon season ends in (4) weeks, but our winter steelhead season lasts all winter!


Top Sacramento River fishing guide, Kenny Turner is putting clients on some great Kings. We have several dates available this next week into the last week in November. We also have several days left in the first two weeks in December before the salmon season ends.

Top Sacramento River fishing guide, Kenny Turner is putting clients on some great Kings. We have several dates available this next week into the last week in November. We also have several days left in the first two weeks in December before the salmon season ends.

Our 24’-25’ foot top of the line jet boats are heated and can accommodate comfortably (4) anglers. We can fish (6), but normally will split the group for maximum comfort on these frigid mornings. Give me a call soon to check our remaining available dates. Thank you! Captain. Jeff,,,

700K more fall Kings for the Sacramento River!

Good news from the President of ncgasa.org, Capt. James Stone! Good things are happening at the hands of NCGASA and the sportsman's voice continues to make positive changes in our California fisheries! Please join us as we work towards better fishing and hunting in California! Join online @ ncgasa.org today!   Photo Credit: Capt. James Stone

Good news from the President of ncgasa.org, Capt. James Stone! Good things are happening at the hands of NCGASA and the sportsman's voice continues to make positive changes in our California fisheries! Please join us as we work towards better fishing and hunting in California! Join online @ ncgasa.org today!

Photo Credit: Capt. James Stone

ANNOUNCEMENT! Coleman National Fish Hatchery has decided with NCGASA.org to raise and release 700,000 more Fall Run King salmon on the Sacramento River this fall. Release will be from Late March to May depending on water temps, flows and fish size and CWT requirements! Our membership would like to “Thank all the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Southwest Region “ for their help and the staff at Coleman National Fish Hatchery for their extra efforts. We appreciate you all very much! Raise more fish! Together we are the “Sportsmens Voice”



Shasta Lake fall trout season begins!

Chunky Shasta Lake brown trout caught with an Optimizer spoon!

Chunky Shasta Lake brown trout caught with an Optimizer spoon!

Known as one of Californias greatest lakes, Shasta Lake provides year round fishing for many species, but for me, the big rainbow and brown trout are the fish I target regularly. This trout fishery has become my top venue for people looking for a great fishing experience and has become the number one body of water I’m booking trips on. My November calendar begins to fill with bookings that are primarily designed around chasing big brown trout that are migrating to their spawning grounds, but we also have some great rainbow trout fishing to keep things interesting as well.

Shasta Lake is a deep water fishery in the summer months which usually starts around June, but as fall sets in, cooling water temperatures in Shasta begin to change the thermocline where warm water above meets cold water below. As Shasta Lake surface temps begin to drop, natures signal for the fall turnover of the lake begins. Cold water has a higher density than warm water and will therefore push through the warmer layers of water in the lake. As the warm and cold water in the lake begins to mix, the warm water will be displaced and the thermocline will disappear. This will eliminate the the need to go down deep to find the trout in the cooler water because the whole lake will drop into the 50’s. This creates a cool environment for the trout near the surface where most of their food chain lives. Fishing during this change in the lake in October can be difficult, but as November appears, the lake will have turned and the trout will have settled into their new environment until summer warms the Shasta Lake water again.

Shasta Lake has an abundance of quality browns in the 7-9 lb range like the one pictured.

Shasta Lake has an abundance of quality browns in the 7-9 lb range like the one pictured.

Fall through spring is my favorite time to fish for trout in Shasta Lake, primarily because I can troll the top 15’ of the lake and find success on every outing. Both rainbows and browns can be found among these depths regularly during the cold water months. Because I’m trolling near the surface, the use of downriggers isn’t necessary. This makes the angers who fish from vessels that aren’t equipped with downriggers happy because it gives them a shot at some of the great trout in Shasta Lake they can’t reach in the summertime. CDFW trout plants begin in the cooling water months like October, so for those of you with small watercraft, trout fishing around the boat launches on Shasta Lake can be quite productive and you don’t have to venture out too far to find them.

I have two plans in mind when I head out on Shasta Lake, but its the clients request that drives me in one direction or another. Most of my clients want to target big fish and thats understandable because so do I. Shasta Lake offers some exceptional brown trout specimens, especially during the cold water periods, so we target big browns regularly. The name of this game though, is quality over quantity. When targeting big, weary brown trout, you’re only going to get so many bites in a day. Some days are better than others of course, but patience has to be a part of your mindset when chasing these great fish. Many of my clients are looking for that one big brown for their bucket list or even just a brown trout period. Most days we can deliver the browns, but sometimes we have to divert our attention to the rainbows to keep the day moving in the right direction.

We can catch Shasta Lake rainbow trout when the brown trout bite is off.

We can catch Shasta Lake rainbow trout when the brown trout bite is off.

When fishing for big browns in the fall/winter/spring seasons I use many techniques to find success. Getting the lures away from the boat is very important so that means long setbacks off your downriggers and or side planers. This helps in a big way, especially when the lake is flat and glassy. When fishing in flat/glassy conditions, I also look to drop my lures down a bit as well. Some days when the sun is high in the sky and the surface is glassed over, the fish tend to push down into deeper water to dim the sunlight. Downriggers work great for that, but so do the Trinidad Tackle Eco Weights. No special gear needed for the Eco Weights, just let out 50’ of line and pinch them on. Finish letting out more line until you think you are getting down where you need to be.

I have three top producers that I use almost every day when trolling for big browns. The three of them used alone or in combination with one another usually spell success for me on Shasta Lake. I troll big spoons like the Trinidad Tackle Co. Optimizer spoons, Bay Rat Lure stick baits like the long shallow divers, and the Arctic Fox Trolling Flies. I’ve invested a lot of time in these three brown catching presentations and my clients have caught tons of fish with them. I will change sizes and colors on some days when I’m finding a tough bite, but I’m still running the same three products. Let the fish tell you what they want. All you have to do is put the right lure out there at the right time and you’ll get your bites.

Arctic Fox Trolling Flies, browns love them! www.trollingflies.com

Arctic Fox Trolling Flies, browns love them! www.trollingflies.com

When the browns just won’t cooperate, sometimes I have to go to plan “B” and go after some rainbow trout. I’m not talking big trophy rainbows, because thats a summer thing. There are rainbows all over the lake, but I have found that the non spawners will winter in the arms of the lake in cooler water. The lower end of the lake does hold fish, but if you want limits style fishing you need to get away from the big water. Having access to these 14”-16” rainbows all winter can be a day saver for sure. All you have to do is go up and find them. I use the same three presentations mentioned earlier, I just size down.

So thats just a few bits of information about fishing Shasta Lake in the cold water months. Of course theres way more involved in finding success daily on Shasta Lake, but these are a few of the key points to help you all find that big brown trout this fall, winter, or spring. We hooked into some very heavy browns this year so we know there are some real trophy fish swimming around in Shasta Lake. Keeping this in mind, my last piece of advice would be this. When fishing for big fish, make sure you have the gear to handle one. Running light leaders and 7’ Kokanee rods will certainly catch fish, but landing them is a different story all together. We got lucky and landed a 10.5 lb. brown on a Shimano Kokanee rod this spring. Many other times we lost big fish to soft hook sets and not enough power in the rod to get them up to the surface. When you hook into that fish of a lifetime, you’re gonna wish you had the gear to get it to the net.

Mark is locked up on a trophy brown that came in at 10.5 lbs on a Shimano Telora Kokanee rod.

Mark is locked up on a trophy brown that came in at 10.5 lbs on a Shimano Telora Kokanee rod.

I’m running brown trout trips November through early summer this coming year. If you would like a shot at a trophy Shasta Lake brown trout or would like to learn a bit more about fishing for them on your own, please send me a contact message or feel free to give me a call to set up your trip. I have a two person minimum and like to fish a maximum of 4. I can fish up to six anglers, but there can be long periods in-between fish with that many people taking turns fighting fish. If the conditions are right we will catch some nice fish. If not, we’ll re schedule another trip when the fishing has picked up again. Tight lines and I’ll see you on the water!













Sacramento River salmon are here!

Rob got into a beauty this year!

Rob got into a beauty this year!

We started our salmon season in late August and have been pleased with what we've experienced so for this season.  We're seeing more salmon overall and the number of fish in the 18-22 pound range are far more abundant than the past few years.  We are also seeing quite a few jack salmon (1-2 year olds) in the river and that makes a great predictor for our 2019 season.  Lots of jacks means a good run the following season.

I've been fishing out of Corning, Ca. most days and thats where we're seeing the brighter salmon. They are cutting very well and their table fare is excellent!  Its a bit of a drive for me in the morning, but catching bright salmon with clients makes it worthwhile for sure.  I will continue to fish down river until the numbers up around Anderson are too many to ignore.  They are typically on the darker side, but they are big rod benders!  Screaming lines and big head shakes are what the upper Sacramento River salmon fishery is all about.

Ron with a bright Sac River salmon he caught near Corning, Ca.

Ron with a bright Sac River salmon he caught near Corning, Ca.

Our season should provide consistent action into late October and thats how long we will continue to offer these King salmon trips.  We're still seeing reports from the saltwater areas and the salmon fishing is still really good.  This means we are really just seeing the beginning of what we are expecting to be a great salmon season.  Fishing from our 24' Willie Jet Boat makes for a comfortable day on the water and we're drifting roe with spin rods so the fishing is easy to manage as well.  We welcome all age groups and skill levels and do our best to get our clients on fish every day!  

One last point of interest is the early presence of a good number of hatchery steelhead.  If catching steelhead sounds like your kind of fishing, please come prepared with a steelhead report card so we can target these fish as well during our day of fishing.  By November, we will be running dedicated steelhead fishing trips and this is already shaping up to be a great season for them as well.

We're expecting to see some beauties like this Barge Hole steelhead caught last year in October.

We're expecting to see some beauties like this Barge Hole steelhead caught last year in October.

Carr Fire and Shasta Lake fishing report.

The Carr fire here in northern California has certainly turned a very promising 2018 summer fishing season into what could be described as an unexpected disappointment to say the least.  Now while fishing has remained very good for the most part, we lost access to three areas we normally fish this time of the year.  Numerous days had to be, or were cancelled by clients who decided to stay home in lieu of vacationing in an area of the state that was on fire or had the potential to be at any time.  I can't say that I blame anyone for not wanting to bring their families into the Redding area with the Carr fire still actively burning around the areas we fish.

Shasta Lake near Shasta Dam this last week.

Shasta Lake near Shasta Dam this last week.

Many of my cancelled trips were back filled by anglers anxious to get in on the great action we were providing clients on Shasta Lake.  In Late July and early August, Shasta Lake was seemingly untouched by the Carr fire disaster and the fishing and air quality were quite good.  It wasn't until the Hirz fire up on the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake broke out and created an enormous amount of smoke on the main body of Shasta Lake that things began to rapidly deteriorate.  With news of a spreading Carr fire towards Lakehead and a raging fire near Hirz Bay, many people were warned or advised not to come up to the Shasta Lake area for their planned vacations or fishing adventures.  I was upfront with conditions on the lake and many of my booked trips cancelled.  For the people who didn't cancel and braved the smokey conditions on Shasta Lake, their trips really paid off on the water.

Many of our clients, like Leslie from Willows, Ca. experienced exceptional days on Shasta Lake during the Carr fire.

Many of our clients, like Leslie from Willows, Ca. experienced exceptional days on Shasta Lake during the Carr fire.

We did the best we could to push through the uncomfortable conditions on the lake and the fast action and big fish were truly a great distraction.  We have had some really great days of fishing and continue do do so now, even in the hot smokey conditions.  The pattern has been heavy smoke in the mornings, but some significant clearing in the afternoons when the winds shifted and pushed the smoke to the east of the main body of Shasta.  This continues to provide some relief by days end and helps us forget about the heavy smoke in the morning, especially when we open the Yeti cooler to fillet the great Shasta Lake trout!

Its big Rainbow season on Shasta Lake, but it will slow dramatically by October when the lake turns over for the winter.

Its big Rainbow season on Shasta Lake, but it will slow dramatically by October when the lake turns over for the winter.

I won't break any records for the numbers of days I fish this summer and certainly won't be getting rich with my boat sitting on the trailer, but overall its already been a good year and for that I'm grateful.  I really appreciate all of the support my clients have shown by re scheduling instead of cancelling, and for braving the conditions and came out to fish with me anyways.  With the Carr fire now contained at 90%, it won't be long before its business as usual on all the lakes here in the Redding area.  Next weeks weather forecast is showing dropping air temperatures which will undoubtedly help make our days on the water a lot more comfortable and will surely help our firefighters get these fires under control.

This is just one of many great browns we have caught this summer on Shasta Lake.  Summer is considered by many to be the off season for brown trout fishing, so just wait until you see what we'll be landing when we start our trophy brown trout trips in November!

This is just one of many great browns we have caught this summer on Shasta Lake.  Summer is considered by many to be the off season for brown trout fishing, so just wait until you see what we'll be landing when we start our trophy brown trout trips in November!

I still have several days of fishing on Shasta Lake this month and will be fishing both Shasta Lake for trout and the Sacramento River for King salmon in September.  October will be the grand finale on the Sacramento River for King salmon before we start our trophy brown trout trips in November.  If weather and water conditions hold up into fall, we should see some of our biggest fish of the year in the next few months.  We're committed to bringing our clients the very best guided fishing trips, both now, and the year ahead.  If you want to get in on any of the world class fishing trips we offer, please give us a call.  We would love to see you holding the next big trophy fish on our Willie Boat!

Shasta Lake big rainbow trout season is here!

Big rainbows like the one pictured here are caught daily in August-Spetember on Shasta Lake.

Big rainbows like the one pictured here are caught daily in August-Spetember on Shasta Lake.

Well, its that time of year again and I'd say we have hit the prime time on Shasta Lake for big rainbow trout.  These beauties are only available in the summer so you have to get them while they are gorging themselves on the plentiful shad schools on the system.  With surface water temps hovering around 80 degrees, its important to have the equipment to go down deep to get these fish consistently.  We have all the tricks of the trade dialed in and the equipment to get the job done.  We do chase the big fish this time of the year so we don't always catch 30-40 fish a day, but we average at least 15-20 fish days right now and they are all big fat trout.

Although this isn't considered to be the best time of the year for big browns, we certainly catch more than our share and have caught browns over 5-7 lbs regularly this summer.  My thoughts are to take advantage of the big rainbows while they are here because by October when the lake cools and eventually turns over, the big adult rainbows will be looking for the spawning grounds.  Not only will the big browns be dropping eggs over their spawning redds for the trout to feed on, but they themselves will be preparing for their own spawn Jan-May.  

The first of the big rainbows will start to show up in the lake again by May.  Note the damage to the tail of this big post spawn hen (female).  This what happens to these fish when the fan the gravel in the creeks and rivers when preparing their spawning beds before depositing their eggs.

The first of the big rainbows will start to show up in the lake again by May.  Note the damage to the tail of this big post spawn hen (female).  This what happens to these fish when the fan the gravel in the creeks and rivers when preparing their spawning beds before depositing their eggs.

Although we fish Shasta Lake year round and find some great fishing most months of the year, I can assure you that now is the time to get out on Shasta and experience some of the fastest big fish action of the year,  Sure, we catch big fish all the time and are always hunting trophies, but there is definitely something special about this time of the year.  Many of our competitors will only fish Shasta during the summer because its so much easier to put people on good fishing.  

We've had a bit of bad luck this season with the wild fires in northern California and our area has been impacted directly.  I can assure you though, that the good fishing has not been compromised.  There have been a few smokey days on Shasta Lake so far this past few weeks, but most days see a morning breeze which clears up the area over the lake when the fishing is usually at its best.  I've stayed plenty busy, but the evacuations and trip cancellations have created some openings I wouldn't normally have this time of the year.  Shasta Lake is a world class fishing destination and as I bring more attention to the great fishing we see here, mote and more people will discover its bountiful fish populations and will surely take advantage of the services we provide the angling community.

Sunrise on Shasta Lake is a magical time!

Sunrise on Shasta Lake is a magical time!

2018 summer fishing forecast!

2018 Trinity Lake King salmon!

2018 Trinity Lake King salmon!

We've started to see our summer fishing patterns develop and now its officially time to get settled into our summer fishing season.  We have been and will continue to fish on Shasta, Trinity, and Whiskeytown lakes.  The fish are plentiful and we're seeing some great catch rates already.  The water thermoclines are developing still, but we should have some hard temperature lines develop with the really warm weather headed our way.  We've already started to land some impressive fish across the board, and its only going to get better as time marches on into July-September.  The King salmon in Trinity Lake are impressive, but the Kokanee up there are smaller than we saw last season.  Whiskeytown has some great size to the Kokanee salmon and some in the 3 lb range have been weighted in recently.  Shasta Lake is full of rainbows and brown trout again, but the salmon numbers are down a bit from years past due to light stocking the past two years.  The Kings being caught are 4-5 lbs though and that should improve as summer Shad populations help them grow again this year.  This should be another exceptional summer season so if your interested in getting in on this great fishing action, get in touch with me so we can get your fishing days locked down.  I'm working on my July-August schedule on the lakes and will be looking at river King salmon possibilities in Sept-October.  It looks like we may have some good numbers of fish in the ocean, but a (1) salmon per person limit may reduce interest in this fishery.  If so, not a problem, we have nice fat trout, Kokanee and Kings (5) per person limits to pick up the slack for all of you who like to eat fish.  I'll be sure to update everyone on how the in river salmon fishing shapes up by mid August.  September-October is the best time to fish for river salmon in the Anderson area.  Tight lines, and thank you all for your support again this year!

Captain Jeff Goodwin

Shasta Lake fishing report and more!

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Shasta Lake crested at around 12' below full pool this week and is now slowly dropping after a very successful water storage year.  The spring water releases from Shasta Lake have begun and the lake is in great shape for the summer fishing season.  Trout and bass fishing is excellent and we've started to see good numbers of adult rainbows back in the system after the spring spawn in the Shasta Lake tributaries.  The bass are staging and with water temps rising above 63 degrees every day now, the bass will be spawning through this month.  Brown trout fishing remains good, but we're now averaging two to three hook ups a day.  The trout are feeding on shad so any sort of lure representing a shad has a good shot at getting bit.  I've been finding most of the rainbows and browns in the 20'-30' range most frequently.  

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Keswick Reservoir is now getting flows from Shasta lake and has kicked into action for some excellent big trout fishing opportunities. The upper section fished like a river where back trolling steelhead plugs or drifting small spoons works quite well.  As the water slows its flow and enters wider/deeper sections of Keswick, trolling becomes the best method for taking trout on conventional trolling gear.  Because Keswick maintains cool water temps year round, the trout are always near the surface and deep trolling isn't really required.

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Whiskeytown Lake is almost to full pool, but has a foot or so to go.  Its fishing ok some days, but its far from the lights out Kokanee fishing we are often used to this time of the year.  Its 63 degrees on the surface though and after it settles down during its fill stage, the Kokanee fishing should really pick up.  I expect great fishing to begin around June after the thermocline in the lake develops.  We're still catching fish every trip, but if our hook to loss ratio is lopsided, some days fall short of limits.  Right now most Kokanee are being caught around 20-25' because those Kokanee tend to be the biters.  The Kokanee are still scattered, but will be schooling up as the water temps increase making them easier to catch.

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Trinity Lake is warming up as well, but its known for its best start in another month or so.  The Kokanee and King salmon fishing will come to life when the anglers start to drop more and more line in around the Memorial Day weekend.  I'm headed up next week to find some Kings so I'll have better information for the readers next week.

Way to go Susie!!  Great brown trout!

Way to go Susie!!  Great brown trout!

As another point of possible point of interest, lake Britton off of hwy 89 near Cayton, is producing fast action Crappie fishing.  Anglers are getting easy limits and its a great place for families to get the kids out on the water and onto some really, really good fishing!

Shasta Lake brown trout fishing going strong!

I've been really busy on Shasta Lake so far this year and its been an incredible tear already!  We are catching big German browns every trip this winter/spring with the exception of one day during a really slow bite.  browns are scaling up to 10.5 lbs, but most are averaging 5-6 lbs.  Yesterdays group hooked seven browns and 5 rainbows making for a great day on the water.  Side planers were the hot presentation, but we did get some bites on the downriggers as well.  Optimizer spoons were our hot bait again.  15-30' seemed to be a great zone to run baits all day.

Optimizer spoons are making a big splash on the western lakes!

Optimizer spoons are making a big splash on the western lakes!

The rainbow trout fishing has been quite good as well and we've started catching some of the bigger rainbows again this past week.  The smaller 14-16" trout are easy to come by and most can be caught throughout the lake.  I'm trolling smaller baits for them at 2.5 mph from the surface to 35' most days.  I'm mostly trolling single spoons or Arctic Fox Trolling Flies, but in some of the dirtier water adding a UV Sling Blade helps draw the trout to the spoon or fly.  I expect the good fishing to continue well into spring and know this summer will be great!

Another nice Shasta Lake rainbow caught on an Optimizer spoon!

Another nice Shasta Lake rainbow caught on an Optimizer spoon!

Rise of the Trinidad Tackle Optimizer spoon!

Mark Simons with his 10.5 pound Shasta Lake German brown!

Mark Simons with his 10.5 pound Shasta Lake German brown!

Not so long ago, I had the privilege to get a call from a local tackle business owner who was looking for a local fishing guide to represent his line of fishing tackle products.  Stan Kulak who is the owner of Trinidad Tackle, gave me his pitch on a number of tackle items that he thought I could use while guiding my fishing clients.  I was interested in what he had to say and accepted his offer to send me some of the items he sells.  He has many effective fishing products that he markets, but this article is about one of his rising stars in the fishing tackle industry, the Optimizer spoon.

The Optimizer spoon has a long history in the Great Lakes area, but the previous owner of the Optimizer had stopped making the spoon and it soon became forgotten in the Great Lakes fishing scene.  Stan had some knowledge of the Optimizers previous existence and its fish catching ability.  Stan negotiated a deal with the owner and started to produce them for Trinidad Tackle.  Stan gave me a bunch of the Optimizers during a lunch meeting and asked me to give them a try.  I had just finished my 2016 salmon season and wasn't spending much time on the lakes chasing trout.  Some time had passed and Stan invited me to come along on a trout fishing trip on Shasta Lake.

10.5 pound German brown trout caught with me by Mark Simons while trolling a #3 Optimizer spoon.

10.5 pound German brown trout caught with me by Mark Simons while trolling a #3 Optimizer spoon.

 I showed up at the Packers Bay boat launch ready and eager to go catch some fish.  Stan had told me he intended to run the Optimizers all day and was going to be looking for big fish.  We covered a lot of water that day and I heard a lot of story's about the big browns and rainbows that Stan had caught with the Optimizers and of course, the ones that got away.  I listened and watched Stan fishing these Optimizer spoons all day.  I will admit that I thought he was out of his mind and I couldn't see myself fishing with them while fishing clients.  His techniques and trolling gear in his boat seemed unconventional and were quite foreign to me.  Stan spent time in the Great Lakes region learning from some of the best and most successful Captains and his gear reflected his knowledge of that fishery and the techniques used there. We only caught one fish that day, a small rainbow, but I left that day with a bunch of new knowledge and a new perspective on a technique I had only seen on tv.

My experience that day planted a seed in my mind and I have since spent 100's of hours both fishing and studying the Great Lakes trolling systems and techniques.  You see, the charter captains back there have advanced their skill levels far beyond what I have ever imagined.  After learning more and more about their approach to fishing for lake salmon and trout, it became my obsession to use what I had learned from Stan and my own time on our lakes here in northern California.  Its hard to step outside of the box you are accustomed to, but sometimes it opens some new doors and suddenly you are twice as good as you used to be.

Tovin Schwartz of San Diego with a big German brown caught with an Optimizer spoon.

Tovin Schwartz of San Diego with a big German brown caught with an Optimizer spoon.

I stayed close to my roots and mostly used what I was used to in the way of tackle, but would give the Optimizers time in the water when I didn't have clients in the boat.  I just hadn't gained the confidence I needed to fish them with paying customers.  I spent the better part of the 2017 summer season on Shasta Lake running small spoons and other tackle quite successfully.  I was enjoying one of my most productive seasons ever and some of my new knowledge was paying off in a big way.  I still had the Optimizer at the ready and noticed a fellow angler who was fishing Shasta and he was coming in with some impressive catches, especially the brown trout that are somewhat difficult to find in the summer months.  Mike Fisher of Cottonwood had seemingly dedicated his days on Shasta to trolling with the Optimizer spoon.  I paid attention and became impressed with his ability to catch big browns and rainbows in the cool deep waters of Shasta Lake during the summer months.

Yet another big German brown caught on Shasta Lake trolling an Optimizer spoon.

Yet another big German brown caught on Shasta Lake trolling an Optimizer spoon.

As fall arrived and the lake turned over I had the opportunity to fish with Stan and Mike.  We were chasing big browns on the McCloud arm and were fishing solely with the Optimizer spoons.  Mike had spent a lot of time fishing them and had discovered some color patterns that consistently produced when he fished them.  Fall is typically a slow month for fishing guides on the lakes so I took advantage of my free time and fished the Optimizer spoons.  Stan and I went out one day in November and hooked seven browns before we had put in a full day on the water.  That was all it took for me to buy into fishing the Optimizer spoons on most of my trips out on Shasta Lake.  I still used some of my old techniques and hardware to catch some great trout during the fall/winter, but some of my biggest browns were being caught on the Optimizer.

I wrote reports about fishing with Optimizers and over time anglers from all over started to talk about these seemingly new spoons and wanted to get their hands on them.  The popularity of these spoons has grown to epic proportions, especially with the anglers trolling for big browns and rainbows. Stan has worked tirelessly to keep up with the demand. but its been tough.  He has increased production and has streamlined some if his manufacturing tasks which will surely help him keep up with the demand.  Locally these spoons can be found at Phils Propeller in Shasta Lake City or online at www.optimizerlure.com.  These Optimizer spoons are the real deal, but for those of you that may have doubts, just ask Mark Simons of Redding, Ca. about the 10.5 pound German brown he caught a week ago while we were trolling a #3 blue and whits Trinidad Tackle Optimizer spoon.

 

Redding area lakes fishing report!

Shasta Lake winter brown trout!

Shasta Lake winter brown trout!

Shasta Lake is fishing very well right now for both rainbow trout and German browns to 8 lbs.  The fish are near the surface in the 50 degree water and its remaining consistent that they bite up high in the morning and drop to 25-35' feet by mid day.  We are mostly trolling Trinidad Tackle Optimizer spoons at 3.8 mph which has revealed itself as a deadly technique for catching browns on Shasta Lake.  Big rainbows will chase them too, and so its largely a spoon trophy hunters use to catch these bigger class of fish.  www.optimizer.com offers many color combinations, but #3 or #4 spoons which include white have proven so far to be the hot baits on Shasta.  Black, orange, and red is a safe bet as well.  I'm catching browns all over the lake, but some of the areas such as the McCloud Arm are really good right now.  If its limits of trout you're after, look to the upper reaches of the arms in Shasta for fast action trout in the 1-2 pound range.  We've been averaging about 40 fish a day when we are just fishing for numbers.  The smaller rainbows are biting 2" inch spoons and Arctic Fox Trolling Flies.  Tip your flies with nightcrawler for the best results.  White, rust, or black trolling flies are dynamite!  I find that these trout will be in the top 15' of the water column and I have great success in the 2.5 mph trolling range. 

Whiskeytown Lake Kokanee limits for this father son team!

Whiskeytown Lake Kokanee limits for this father son team!

Whiskeytown Lake is still producing good numbers of Kokanee salmon to 17" inches, but most are in the 12"-14" range right now.  I'm finding them out over deeper water in 5'-25' depending on the sunlight.  The Kokanee will drop down a bit when its sunny, especially when the lake surface glasses over.  I mainly use Mack's Lure Kokanee product along with Brads Killer Baits when fishing Kokanee, but Arctic Fox Trolling Flies are very productive as well.  the three most important components to Kokanee fishing success is, trolling speed (1.1-1.5 mph), proper depth, lure color and scent.  Key in on depth and color when you get bites.  Adjust your other lines to the same depth if possible and stick with a hot color until it stops producing.  If your bite shuts off, mix up your presentations again but maintain speed and depth.  I know there are some out there that will disagree, but I won't go Kokanee fishing without Pautzke Bait Co. Fire Corn.  I usually add tuna oil, krill powder, or garlic scent to the jar of Pautzkes Fire Corn.  Its durable, and the bite stimulants Pautzke puts in their corn doesn't hurt either.  I use the natural color a lot but the other colors such as pink or chartreuse work as well.  

Trinity Lake winter rainbows.

Trinity Lake winter rainbows.

Trinity Lake has been productive for planter size rainbows near the dam on recent trips, but its a late starter because of the fishing down on Shasta and Whiskeytown is so good early on in the year.  With an increased limit of salmon on Trinity Lake (10) per person, Trinity will surely gain more popularity this season with anglers who are on a meat run!  I'll also be fishing Lewiston Lake this summer, but with very low flows right now, fishing will be slow until the spring releases begin.  The same goes for Keswick Reservoir, which like Lewiston, fishes best when there is current on those bodies of water.

Shasta Lake trout fishing is very good!

Matthew and Morgan with their trout stringer for the morning on Shasta Lake!

Matthew and Morgan with their trout stringer for the morning on Shasta Lake!

Shasta Lake has been a consistent producer of trout this winter season.  I've had some really good days, especially when targeting rainbow trout in the 14"-16" range.  The bigger fish days are intentional and we do catch fewer fish, but the quality is exceptional right now.  We're seeing a lot of browns returning to the lake after spawning and some have already filled out very nicely.  

Shasta Lake browns are making a move back into the main arms of the lake and we're catching them consistently.

Shasta Lake browns are making a move back into the main arms of the lake and we're catching them consistently.

  I've been trolling all over and can say most of my bigger fish are coming early and right on top.  If you want to get the big browns to come up for your baits, bump up your trolling speeds in the early hours of the day.  When the sun comes up and covers the lake, I slow down a bit and drop the baits down 10'-20', especially if the surface is glassed over.  If its windy, its not as important to go down for the trout.

This fly is a hot one for Shasta Lake rainbows and browns, and so is its equal in white.  See www.trollingflies.com to order!

This fly is a hot one for Shasta Lake rainbows and browns, and so is its equal in white.  See www.trollingflies.com to order!

For fun fishing and catching good numbers of rainbows, try trolling some Arctic Fox Trolling flies with action discs 0"-6" in front of them, like the one pictured above.  Troll at around 2 mph and you should get bites.  For you bait fishermen out there, add a piece of nightcrawler to your presentations for more bites.  5'-15' feet is a good depth to start at in the morning, but just like I said earlier, drop your presentations down when the sun comes up and covers the lake surface.  If you happen to see some good fish marks on the sonar in the 20'-40' range, drop down and go after them.  Those fish will bite if they like what swims by.

This rig has been deadly lately.  Try a Mack's Lure Smile Blade in front of the small hoochie as well as I really like them.  Try different color Mack's Lure 4" dodgers, especially in the UV colors for great results.

This rig has been deadly lately.  Try a Mack's Lure Smile Blade in front of the small hoochie as well as I really like them.  Try different color Mack's Lure 4" dodgers, especially in the UV colors for great results.

Conditions are always changing and the fish are moving around the lake following food and comfortable water temps.  With that being said, if you find some good fishing spots, don't leave fish to find fish.  You're better off staying in one area.  Those trout are there for a reason.  If they leave after you've caught a few, work the shoreline.  The fish will move near shore when they get disturbed.  These trout will bite a lot of presentations so if a bait isn't working, try something new.  Sometimes it really pays off.  I have openings in March if you'd like a first hand lesson, or if you just want to have a fun day on the lake catching trout, give me a call or send me a message to set something up!

Do you want to share the pure joy of catching a fish with friends or family?  We can help make that happen.  The smiles on the faces of family and loved ones are priceless.  I've never seen a frown on the face of someone fighting a fish to the net!

Do you want to share the pure joy of catching a fish with friends or family?  We can help make that happen.  The smiles on the faces of family and loved ones are priceless.  I've never seen a frown on the face of someone fighting a fish to the net!