Lake Shasta encompasses over 30,000 surface acres. It has one of the finest trout populations in the state with rainbows and browns and even Kamloop trout featured. Shasta provides trouting on a 12 month basis. It excels in the early spring when greater surface and sub-surface feeding activity occurs. Top-line trolling is one of the best techniques at this time. A Ford Fender or Drew Davis lake troll with a nightcrawler trailer is a good set-up to try. Popular places to troll on this large lake include Big Backbone Creek Inlet, Waters Gulch, Elmore Bay and between Elmore Bay and between the Pit River Bridge and Shasta Dam.
As water temperatures warm, the trout become more actively oriented to the schools of threadfin shad. Storm Thin Fin plugs and Rebel and Ripala minnows will fish well under these conditions here, again primarily on the troll. Be on the alert for boils of trout pushing the shad to the surface. Make long casts past the thrashing fish and retrieve assorted hardware just under the water. Spoons such as the nickel Kastmaster and silver Z-Ray will definitely work. The Triple Teazer and the regionally favorite Speedy Shiner can also be dragged near the schools of bait.
By mid summer both the trout and the baitfish will sound into deeper water, sometimes all the way to 100 feet. Use a graph or L.C.R. to monitor thermoclines and these deeper strike zones. Switch to lead core or Pink Lady diving pianes using any of the popular lures. Bait fishermen demonstrate their prowess with the famous “Shasta Fly”, a marshmallow and salmon egg combo. Nightcrawlers, crawdads and red worms will also produce, fished 15 to 100 feet. More ambitious anglers will net their own threadfin shad and fish them with either a float or a single split shot.
Most fly fishing enthusiasts stay with streamer models at Shasta. Muddler Minnows, Wooly Worms and White Marabous will produce on traditional fly gear and sinking lines.
Shasta-Cascade Wonderland Association, 1250 Parkview Ave., Redding, CA. 96001, (916)243-2643.
Keswick Reservoir is the afterbay for Lake Shasta. It’s small, only 630 acres, but filled with cold water from Shasta and with lunker rainbow. Operated by Shasta County, it’s a local secret. It’s open to all types of boating and has a launch ramp and picnic area.
Shasta County, 1855 Placer St., Redding, CA. 96001, (916)246-5661.