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!

Redding area lakes bite improves!

 Beautiful brown caught this week trolling big spoons on Shasta Lake!

Beautiful brown caught this week trolling big spoons on Shasta Lake!

With spring like conditions in the Redding area, we have seen a steady weather pattern and its noticeably improved the bite on Shasta, Trinity, and Whiskeytown Lakes.  Keswick Reservoir has also been producing some great rainbows and the occasional brown trout.  We are still seeing a good surface bite early, but dropping down 15'-20' on our brighter days is a good move when trolling for trout, especially when light winds keep the surface flat.  

 Rainbow trout have been destroying this fly to the point most of the material is gone, yet it is still catching fish.

Rainbow trout have been destroying this fly to the point most of the material is gone, yet it is still catching fish.

I continue to find success trolling a variety of presentations, but have been finding the most success with medium (2 1/2") to large (3 5/8") spoons and Arctic Fox Trolling Flies.  Minnow patterns have been working great, but I'm finding bites on orange or red presentations consistently.  White Arctic Fox Trolling flies (www.trollingflies.com) have been absolutely deadly on the rainbows trolled at 10'-15'.  Tipping them with a small piece of nightcrawler doesn't hurt either.  If I had to choose only one color to fish right now, it would be white.

 This great Keswick Reservoir brown trout hit a metallic gold Mag Lip plug trolled at 2.5 mph.

This great Keswick Reservoir brown trout hit a metallic gold Mag Lip plug trolled at 2.5 mph.

Kokanee salmon fishing on Whiskeytown Lake is also off to a good start and I expect it to heat up with rising water temps in the lake.  Water managers will fill Whiskeytown in early April.  When its full and the Kokanee have time to adjust, it should provide excellent fishing through September!  The fishing is good now and we're still a few months away from taking off.  I fished a trip this weekend and we landed ten Kokanee and lost several more, making for a fun day on the water.

 We're catching some great Kokanee now we're only going to see bigger fish in the coming months as they continue to grow!

We're catching some great Kokanee now we're only going to see bigger fish in the coming months as they continue to grow!

Im already booking trips for our spring, summer, and fall lake fishing trips.  I have plenty of open dates year round, but its best to get your trips reserved sooner than later, giving you a chance to book the most convenient days for your party.  I can easily book large parties and multi day trips for your group and can even schedule days on different bodies of water seeking a variety of fish species making for an unforgettable trip for all involved.  Leave a contact message on this site or give mea call to reserve your fishing trip this season.  Its going to be another great year!

A new year ahead for Redding area fishing.

Well, its here!  2018!  Most of the fishing we did last year ended up being on the three lakes, (Shasta-Trinity-Whiskeytown), located near Redding, Ca., but we fished many other areas as well. 

2017 started with some excellent Striped Bass fishing in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but with a massive run due to high water in the Sacramento River system, we also found some great Striper fishing on the Feather River, where we ended our "line side" season.  

 Mokolumne River morning trip for Stripers!

Mokolumne River morning trip for Stripers!

By May, Whiskeytown and Trinity Lakes were producing some excellent landlocked salmon (Kokanee & King) fishing. Most days were action packed and the Kokanee were above average in size this past year making for some pretty impressive bags of fresh salmon fillets at the end of the day.  

 Whiskeytown Lake 18" average Kokanee salmon!

Whiskeytown Lake 18" average Kokanee salmon!

By July, Shasta Lake trout fishing was red hot, and we landed numerous trout on every trip which included some trophy rainbows and browns in the 5-7 lb. class.  August revealed some bad news for us on the Sacramento River steelhead/trout fishery, in that we saw a major decline in the numbers of fish we were used to catching on our daily trips.  We still had fun and caught 20-30 fish most days, but thats a low number compared to what we are used to.  It didn't end up being a problem because the lakes were still producing some very good fishing.  

 Shasta Lake rainbows were big and plentiful in 2017!

Shasta Lake rainbows were big and plentiful in 2017!

By September, we started to see some descent numbers of Sacramento River King salmon.  Catch rates were better than expected, but we saw a lot of two year old's which meant our days were yielding salmon in the 7-10 lb. range.  With 5-10 fish limits on our local lakes, a lot of our clients opted for lake fishing in lieu of a cane at a few small salmon.  

 Average size Sacramento River King salmon in 2017...  Ugh!

Average size Sacramento River King salmon in 2017...  Ugh!

By the end of October we made a move to chase trophy class German Browns on Shasta Lake and I'm so glad we did!  We missed out on a pretty good late fall salmon season, but its been very slow in recent years so it was unexpected to say the least.  Fortunately our German Brown trout trips produced some great specimens to 7 lbs. and we only had one trip where we didn't land at least one big brown.

 The fall spawning migration for the big browns is a great way to end the year!

The fall spawning migration for the big browns is a great way to end the year!

Overall we were very pleased with how our year came together and we had some very memorable days on the waters we fished.  Each and every one of our clients contributed to the season we had and I am so very grateful they chose us to fish with.  We learned a lot about the areas we fish and have continued to upgrade our boat and equipment we use to get our clients into as many fish as possible.  I'm looking forward to our 2018 fishing season and am especially looking forward to seeing this years clients, both new and old!  Now lets go fishing!

Shasta Lake brown bite still good!

Well its been one heck of a month and I'm happy to report that the fishing has been very good nearly every trip.  We've concentrated on bigger fish and have spent a lot time hunting for the big German Brown trout.  We've landed a handful of browns in the 6-7 lb. class and have caught quite a few in the 3-5 lb. range.  Overall its been a great fall/winter season and it looks like its going to continue as we head into the new year.

 German browns are moving up and down the Shasta Lake arms and we're catching them every trip.

German browns are moving up and down the Shasta Lake arms and we're catching them every trip.

The rainbow trout have also shown up in the mix and I'm starting to find some bigger rainbows than I had been the past few weeks.  I'm mixing up my trolling lure spread so I'll attract both browns and rainbows and it seems to be working out just fine.  Trolling fast with big spoons has been good for big browns, and slowing it down and sizing down my presentations is getting more attention from the rainbows.  Meet somewhere in the middle and we're catching both at the same time.

 We started to see some of the big rainbows this week and should continue to see them more often as they start to make their push up to their spawning grounds in early spring.

We started to see some of the big rainbows this week and should continue to see them more often as they start to make their push up to their spawning grounds in early spring.

I wil continue to run trips on Shasta Lake for rainbows and browns, but I've had some good days on Whiskeytown Lake for Kokanee salmon as well.  With Kokanee in the 15"-16" size category now, we're in for some great fishing this summer.  Its still possible to get limits of Kokanee so let me know if you'd like to get out early in the year and get some fish for the smoker!

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Shasta Lake winter trout bite continues.

 Randy with his first Shasta Lake German Brown of the morning.  This brown was caught trolling 2.5 mph on the surface with a Mack's Tackle 1/2 oz. Hum Dinger spoon.

Randy with his first Shasta Lake German Brown of the morning.  This brown was caught trolling 2.5 mph on the surface with a Mack's Tackle 1/2 oz. Hum Dinger spoon.

Fishing for rainbow and German Brown trout on Shasta Lake continues to be productive most days.  I think a lot of the browns are up the tributaries spawning, but its clear that they don't all spawn at the same time.  We are catching a mix of pre spawn and post spawn browns in the McCloud arm near Hirz Bay.  Trolling techniques vary, but trolling above 3.5 mph using 3"-4" spoons seem to be producing the best numbers of bigger browns.  For rainbows, smaller spoons trolled at 20-2.5 mph has been productive.  Almost all of our bites are coming near the surface, although running a few weight rods down 10-15' can produce strikes as well.  

 Shasta Lake rainbow trout caught on a recent trip this past week.

Shasta Lake rainbow trout caught on a recent trip this past week.

Most bites are coming early in the morning and late in the afternoon, with some pretty slow bite action late morning into mid day.  Fishing the shorelines should be your first option, but if you are not getting bites, try fishing out in the open water and you'll sometimes find a few bites.  Trout fishing on Shasta Lake is slower this time of the year so be patient and keep your lines wet.  Cover lots of water and keep trying different lures.  The trout will love a gold spoon one day and won't give it a second look the next. Chances are, if you put in some time on the water, you'll get into a bite at some point in the day.  Tight lines!

 Gold and red mack's Tackle Hum Dinger 1/2 oz spoon top line trolled at 2.5 mph!  This color is my top big fish producer when the fish are looking for smaller presentations.

Gold and red mack's Tackle Hum Dinger 1/2 oz spoon top line trolled at 2.5 mph!  This color is my top big fish producer when the fish are looking for smaller presentations.

Shasta Lake trophy trout!

 Good friend and owner of Trinidad Tackle Co. (Stan Kulak) with a big brown he caught with me while trolling a white Optimizer Spoon!  Check out www.trinidadtackle.com and the whole line of Optimizer Spoons.  These are killer big fish spoons!

Good friend and owner of Trinidad Tackle Co. (Stan Kulak) with a big brown he caught with me while trolling a white Optimizer Spoon!  Check out www.trinidadtackle.com and the whole line of Optimizer Spoons.  These are killer big fish spoons!

Fall is in full swing now and although we have seen mostly mild weather, winter is right around the corner.  I've been spending a lot of time on Shasta Lake hunting big trout.  I'm catching some multi pound German Browns of late and we've hooked some real monsters!  We're seeing a mix of big adult browns heading up into the McCloud Arm to spawn and some big hens (females) this week that have already spawned and are migrating back down the arm to fatten up on shad.  We are running big spoons at fast speeds which tends to get the attention of these bigger Shasta Lake trout.  We aren't seeing the big numbers our summer fishery provides, but we are hooking trout that are above average for anyone who fishes for trout out there.  As the spawning ends and these adult size browns head back into the deep waters of the lake to feed, we'll surly see some impressive fish come to the net!  If this sounds like your kind of a trip, give me a call and we'll set a date for your trip provided I think the fishing and water conditions will be viable.  Tight Lines!

 Nice female German Brown caught this week in the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake.

Nice female German Brown caught this week in the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake.

Sacramento River steelhead season begins!

 Sacramento River hatchery steelhead caught by Pat Young in the Anderson area on 11/1...

Sacramento River hatchery steelhead caught by Pat Young in the Anderson area on 11/1...

The Sacramento River steelhead season is off to a good start!  We have our wild steelhead in the Redding area, but we have already seen a good number of Coleman Hatchery steelhead returning the past few weeks.  This is great news because we normally see the biggest push of steelhead in January-February.  This is when Coleman Hatchery sees its best numbers of steelhead show up at the Battle Creek fish ladder.  Good reports of big numbers of steelhead as far down river as Butte City and Los Molinos continue to come in so its just a matter of time before we start to see more arrive above Red Bluff.  

We are back trolling plugs, pulling bait with divers, and side drifting Pautzke BorX o Fire Natural cured roe to catch these steelhead.  Drifting and plugging shallow rifles, current seams, and pushing steelhead into tail outs have been the most productive.  We do hook steelhead in the deeper sections of the Sacramento River, but they are usually incidentally caught while fishing for King salmon.

 This hatchery steelhead was recently caught below Battle Creek on the Sacramento River!

This hatchery steelhead was recently caught below Battle Creek on the Sacramento River!

We have some rain in the forecast so I expect it will pull some new fish up into my area of operation.  Keep an eye out for future reports or visit www.norcalfishreports.com for my frequent reports.  I have available dates through out the winter season so if you want to get out and experience fishing for these great fish, fill out the contact me info and I'll get back to you asap.  I can also be reached at (707) 616-1905 if you have more questions or want to book a trip.

Sacramento River Kings and steelhead!

The Upper reaches of the Sacramento River near Anderson, Ca. has been hot and cold the past few weeks.  On big wind days anglers are struggling and when opposite conditions prevail, fishing tends t be pretty good.  We will see the tail end of the King fishery by the end of the month, but theres no rain in sight anytime soon so that will keep some of them around for sure.

 A few big Kings are around, but we're still seeing mostly two year olds in the 7-10 lb range.

A few big Kings are around, but we're still seeing mostly two year olds in the 7-10 lb range.

The steelhead season has been on an early start and I hear there are some good numbers of them headed up river. As salmon fishing slows, I will be focusing on the steelhead from Red Bluff to Anderson.  We still have late fall Kings to look forward to, but that typically starts to get good around Thanksgiving.  Until then and after the Sac closes to salmon fishing on December 16th, I'll be out fishing for steelhead!

 

 10/14 Hatchery steelhead caught with Pautzke Fire Cure roe.  Hatchery steelhead are now being caught below Battle Creek.  Coleman has already seen a good number of them return so the season may contain some extra good steelhead fishing.

10/14 Hatchery steelhead caught with Pautzke Fire Cure roe.  Hatchery steelhead are now being caught below Battle Creek.  Coleman has already seen a good number of them return so the season may contain some extra good steelhead fishing.

Sacramento River King salmon fishing is still a good option for anglers!

 Robert with his 20 pound King he caught with me on 10/7 drifting roe in the Barge Hole in Anderson, Ca.

Robert with his 20 pound King he caught with me on 10/7 drifting roe in the Barge Hole in Anderson, Ca.

Its been fairly steady fishing for King salmon on the Sacramento River near Anderson, Ca. pretty much all season.  Some days produce lots of fish and then you have some days that don't.  Thats salmon fishing on The Sacramento River this year folks.  I've caught more fish this year for sure, but our returns are still down from even a year ago.  We're starting to see some larger salmon higher in the system and the full October moon usually signals the last big push of salmon up towards Coleman Hatchery.  The tail end of the fall run will arrive in the next few weeks, lets hope its a bigger number than we've seen so far this year, although I'm grateful for the fish we do have.  Flows on the Feather river have been cut to 3,000 cfs and the Sacramento River is still pushing 9,000 cfs.  Its possible more Coleman salmon will push up river instead of making the right turn into the Feather now.

 Some of the Sacramento River Kings are still in great shape and their meat quality is very good for this time of the year.

Some of the Sacramento River Kings are still in great shape and their meat quality is very good for this time of the year.

We're also still hearing of salmon being caught in SF Bay and in the lower Sacramento River.  Thats good news and helps restore some hope for the final month of the fall season.  Either way, we'll take what we can get and all indicators are present for a good return of salmon to the Coleman Hatchery in 2018.  Prime time is September 1st thru October 15th so mark your calendars and get your trip with me reserved.  I was quite busy this season and it will surely be even busier next year with a big run of big (18-25 lb,) 3 year old King salmon!  Tight lines and stay tuned for my late fall/winter steelhead fishing reports!

Sacramento River King salmon fishing report

 We're still seeing some quality salmon in the upper reaches of the Sac River near Red Bluff.

We're still seeing some quality salmon in the upper reaches of the Sac River near Red Bluff.

Its been a few weeks since my last salmon fishing report, and although Its been a good season so far, our worst fears for this years salmon season near the Coleman salmon hatchery have proven to be a reality.  Once again the straying of the Coleman Hatchery salmon into the Feather River system down river due to the trucking of these fish as juveniles to Rio Vista has left us with dismal returns of 3 year olds returning to spawn.  The one thing that saved our up river salmon season was the return of 2 year old salmon (Jacks) that have provided some pretty steady action near the Barge Hole near Coleman Hatchery.  These 2 year olds were not trucked to the delta and released so they are the indicator of a strong return of larger 3 year old fish for us next year.  If current conditions and hatchery releases remain back to normal, the coming years should include some great Sacramento River King salmon fishing.  For now, it has just been some good days and some slower days for sure.  Most days we're averaging a fish per rod and you can't beat fishing on this beautiful section of the Sacramento River.  I will be fishing for King salmon near Anderson, Ca. until mid October and then I'll be focusing on Sac River steelhead and Shasta Lake trout.  Keep checking back to stay informed with my reports about fishing in the Redding area throughout the winter!  Thank you, and tight lines to you all!

 These jack salmon were caught on back to back drifts on the Sacramento River this week!

These jack salmon were caught on back to back drifts on the Sacramento River this week!

Sacramento River King salmon fishing!

 We've been catching King salmon on every trip this year!

We've been catching King salmon on every trip this year!

The Sacramento River King salmon season is in full swing now and we're seeing some pretty good numbers of fish in the upper river near Red Bluff.  Anglers who are putting in some time on the water are taking home fresh salmon.  Plugs and bait seem to be working equally as well right now and water conditions couldn't be more perfect.  The bulk of this years run consists of two year old salmon that are averaging 7-10 pounds.  There are some bigger fish around, but they are definitely fewer in numbers right now.  I personally haven't seen this many jacks in the Sacramento River since I started guiding over here, although I hear there was a big run of them in 2011.  If current trends prove to be accurate, the Sacramento River will see a good run of salmon returning next year as three year olds that average 18-25 pounds.  After two devastating years of a smolt (juvenile salmon) trucking program from Coleman NFH to the California Delta, we should once again see the lions share of the salmon in the upper sections of the Sacramento River.

 Happy clients from a trip earlier this week!  

Happy clients from a trip earlier this week!  

With the Feather River seeing such good fishing this year, just a handful of local guides and anglers have been fishing the upper river making for some very roomy conditions on the water.  Its been a late start up here near Redding this year, but if the current conditions and continued numbers of salmon hold steady, we will end up calling the 2017 salmon season a good one!  I have September 26,27,28th available right now if anyone is interested in some Sacramento River salmon fishing this month.  The run should peak sometime around the end of the month, but we should see some good fishing through mid October if we avert any big rains between now and then.  Tight lines and enjoy the rest of the summer, its almost over!