Winter weather continues to soak the north state, and Shasta Lake continues to be on the rise. As of January 28th, the lake level stands at 96.5' feet below full pool. Since it is still relatively early in the winter season, this is great news and it looks like El Nino 2016 just may break our historic 4 year drought. This past week has seen daily lake levels rising between 2' and 5' feet and this has taken the predictability right out of the bass fishing on Shasta.
Finding fish each day can be a big challenge during winter storms and rising water. When I do find some fish, I'm finding the bite to be very sporadic at best. You can't just sit on top of a pile of bass and pick them off for an hour or two. Its a few here, and a few there kind of bite right now. Finding fish and getting bit is now the result of just covering a lot of water. Its taking longer to cover water though because you have to slow your presentations way down to get bit in 50 degree water. Even your crank bait and spinner baits need to be dialed down a notch to be effective.
I've been finding the most success with drop shot rigs lately with a worm rigged wacky style. The darker colors like green and brown pumpkin seem to be doing the trick, but a black/red flake worm has actually been my hot bait. I've been finding bass along the shore line down to about 40 feet.
The bass are also sticking tight to the bottom in the shallower sections I'm now finding. Don't be afraid to "dead stick" (still fish) these bass right now. Trust me, I know that this technique is super boring, but its putting fish in the live well every trip. I'm also finding suspended fish in deeper water, but they aren't tearing up any baits thrown at them right now.
[Shaun Montgomery with spotted bass, photo by Jeff Goodwin]
Shaun Montgomery of Palo Cedro, Ca. caught this nice Shasta Lake spotted bass while fishing with Jeff Goodwin. Shaun was using a wacky rig, green pumpkin, Rainbow Worm.
I fished out of Packers Bay Thursday, and the ramp was very busy with tournament anglers pre-fishing before the tournament. The Centimudi boat launch is full of wood so I wouldn't advise attempting to launch there. Packers Bay is the next option for me, and its been great. One last point worth mentioning is the presence of wood debris in Shasta Lake. Drive your boats at a safe speed and be sure to wear your PFD's incase you happen to find some floating debris when running the lake. Shasta Lake is going to continue to rise during the coming week, but it looks like some sunny weather is headed our way. Get your gear and get your boats ready for some Shasta Lake bass fishing!