Shasta/Trinity County Report from Jeff Goodwin of Jeff Goodwin’s Guide Service
Shasta Lake is fishing very good and we're seeing limits just about every trip for our clients now. The rainbows and occasional browns are all over the main body of the lake and the shad balls are migration out over open water which will really kick the trout action into high gear. The trout are coming to the net at 1-5 lbs. and the brilliant red meat they have is quite good at the dinner table for the anglers who keep them. Water conditions are prime and even with daytime surface temps near 80 degs, the cold water layer, or thermocline, is sitting at about 45-50' feet. Thats where the best fishing is being seen right now, although dropping down as deep as 100' can be effective as well. Just know that most of the fish are coming up higher to chase the shad in the warm water for their feeding frenzies. Smaller shad size spoons will take the highest percentage of the trout rt now, but trolling bigger gear will get strikes too. Thats how I keep the smaller bass and trout at bay and I tend to get the bigger bites on the majority of the trips. Shasta Kings have been shy and not many are being caught this season so far. We're getting a nice plant of year old juvenile Kings this fall and hopefully will see more again in the coming years. After two years of no salmon plants in Shasta, the King fishing just isn't what it has been in years past.
Whiskeytown lake is still a good option, but its not red hot for Kokanee salmon. We are running a few trips a week and we are getting limits if we don't lose a lot of the fish we hook. Getting 10-15 quietly Kokanee is still a great day, especially when they are around 2 lbs each. Like I've said before, its a quality over quantity kind of fishery again this year. Most boats are struggling so I am only speaking of my recent catch rates and don't want to be misleading to the weekend fishermen. For most Whiskeytown is a bit of a drive and I don't want people to have high expectations for success so far this year. I'll be sure to report on any significant changes in the fishing on Whiskeytown if it does take off anytime soon. It should have by now, but its been tough in a lot of areas this year so you never know.
Trinity Lake has been really tough, unless you are interested in catching 6-10" Kokanee. The lake is absolutely loaded with Kokanee and there aren't enough of the bigger fish in the system to even put a dent in their massive numbers. This is keeping the Kokanee populations very, very high and its keeping the bigger salmon and trout stuffed with a prime food source making them tough to catch. Bite windows are very short and you have to be in the right place at the right depth when the bite turns on. I'll crack the code to this fishery in due time, but right now, Shasta Lake is where I'd recommend spending my time tis summer.
Stampede report from James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service
Netzel reported landing boat limits of kokanee to 17 inches along with 4 trout at Stampede on Sunday using Paulina Peak’s Cotton Candy or Orange Moon Tip patterns at depths from 50 to 75 feet with most fish coming from 50 to 60 feet.
Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service reported a kokanee bite that was ‘so wide open’ that they couldn’t keep two rods in the water. They landed 30 fish in the 11 to 13-inch range before the water skiers came out in force on both weekend days.
To the astonishment of many, kokanee are making a solid showing at New Melones after a very slow start to the traditional kokanee season. This phenomenon is also occurring at the other Mother Lode lakes of Pardee and Don Pedro with the very late arrival of kokanee.
The big news of the week occurred on Gary Burns of ‘Take It To the Limit’ Guide Service’s boat with a 2-lb., 1.5-oz./19-inch kokanee, just 0.5-oz. shy of the lake record. Burns said, “The kokanee bite has finally turned on, and we have put in over 50 kokanee within the last two weeks. Most of the kokanee are ranging from 11 to 14 inches, and they are fat and healthy. We have lost as many as we have put in the boat, and this is reflective of how hard they have been fighting. The fish will be going deeper as the water warms, but for now, we are finding the kokanee at depths from 37 to 50 feet from the main lake south of the dam to the spillway with pink Wedding Rings or JPex lures in chrome or gold.”
Gene Hildebrand of Glory Hole Sports in Angel Camp reported the rainbow trout have been dropping in the water column as the fish are seeking cooler waters. Trollers are doing best with Wedding Rings, Kastmasters, or Needlefish in the Angels Creek arm, main lake, and the spillway.
John Liechty of Xperience Fishing Guide Service said, “The bass bite continues to be productive as trip after trip we are landing plenty of healthy largemouth and spotted bass with a few large fish in the mix. The pattern seems to be changing from week to week, and many of the bass can be found roaming the open water in search of schools of bait fish. With the dropping water levels, the fish are starting to show up near deep water. For the next few months, the temperatures will be hot, and the bass will feed heavily in the mornings, evenings, and at night while hunkering down during the day to avoid the heat. Shad, bluegill, and baby bass patterns are the colors of choice, and a variety of reaction baits such as crankbaits, ripbaits, and spinnerbaits are used to trigger strikes when the bass are aggressive. Get on the water early or fish until dark to find some good summertime action.”
The catfish bite is best at night with cutbaits near the Tuttletown launch ramp or near the dam while crappie fishing is best near shaded coves with structure with crappie jigs in pearl or white.
New Melones has dropped to 79 percent.
While kokanee have been absent for the majority of the spring at all Mother Lode lakes, the trend of the landlocked silvers showing up at a much later-than-normal date continues at Don Pedro. In addition to the improving kokanee action, rainbow trout limits are a given for experienced trollers. Largemouth and spotted bass are also on a hot bite, but local anglers are keeping very quiet about their success at this lake.
Monte Smith of Gold Country Sport Fishing said, “The kokanee bite is improving, and there are three different grades of kokanee in the lake. We weren’t even targeting kokanee, and we had a double at 40 and 45 feet with Needlefish with one kokanee at 16 inches and the other at 13.5 inches. We landed another kokanee at 60 feet that was 12 inches. The bigger fish must have been a 3rd year kokanee. However, you need to make up your mind if you are going to keep the trout or kokanee on the way up since the surface temperature is approaching 80 degrees. It was 76 to 77 degrees in the mornings, and the warm water just kills the fish. There is a thermocline forming at 35 to 60 feet, but the larger rainbows remain higher in the water column. The recreational boating traffic during the week hasn’t been bad as we returned to the Blue Oaks launch ramp at 12:30 p.m., and there was no one else launching. Trout limits continue to be the rule, and there are various grades of trout in the lake.”
Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford said, “There have been a number of bass fishermen heading up to Don Pedro, but they have been keeping very quiet so I know that the bite is good.” Kris Huff of Stockton came in second during a night tournament for a local club on Saturday night with a 21.84-pound limit. Huff said, “The lake is fishing very well as we had a blast boating around 80 bass with a number of quality largemouths and spots. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms, and topwater lures all worked from 1 to 10 feet in depth.”
The kokanee action has also heated up to some degree at Lake Pardee after a very slow start to the season. The improvement is just in time for the Kokanee Power Lake Pardee Team Kokanee Derby this coming Saturday, July 14th. The tournament will have both adult and junior divisions with a three-fish weigh in for adults and a one-fish weigh in for junior anglers.
Joe Aksamit of JoeFish Guide Service and Robbie Dunham of ‘Koke Machine’ Guide Service were on the lake this week for limits of kokanee along with bonus rainbow trout released. Dunham said, “I went out solo on Tuesday to scout, and I found fish just outside of the river mouth and towards the south of the lake at depths from 45 to 50 feet with pink micro-hoochies or pink 1.0 Apex lures. I didn’t venture up the river arm so I don’t know if there are fish there, but out of the 25 hook ups, I put in 10 kokanee. I also released rainbow trout at 2, 3, and 4 pounds at 20 to 30 feet on Speedy Shiners as the trout at Pardee are at least 10 to 20 feet higher in the water column than at downstream Camanche. You have to search around and find the fish, but there are some kokanee there as I marked some larger fish on the bottom. I imagine that the winning derby fish will come off of structure at 50 to 70 feet.”
The Rocky River Company released 1000 pounds of Calaveras Trout Farm rainbows prior to Independence Day, and there are a few more plants planned within the next month.
With the hot temperatures, catfishing remains the best bet with cutbaits, chicken livers, or nightcrawlers from the banks from dusk into the evenings. Bluegill are holding near structure while the remaining rainbows in the lake are holding in deep water. Largemouth bass fishing is best at night with a variety of reaction baits.
There have been two largemouth bass over 10 pounds caught and released within the past two weeks, and reaction baits in the early mornings are producing the huge fish. Recreational boating continues to dominate the lake, and the jet skis, water skiers, and personal water craft arrive in force after 10:00 a.m. Trout trollers such as Robbie Dunham of Koke Machine Guide Service are arriving early and running shad-patterned spoons at depths from 40 to 55 feet in the deepest part of the lake in the main river channel towards the dam.
Mike Gomez of the Bait Barn in Waterford fished a night tournament on Saturday, and he said, “Bass fishing is best at night with jigs in the early evenings before working topwater lures such as the River2 Sea Rover. We found a good bite for around an hour for another 15 bass which we culled for a 9.16-pound limit with a big fish at 4.02. All of our larger fish came on the Rover, but the topwater bite slowed down and I ran up the river arm in the extreme dark for slow action. The winners were reported to score with jigs and plastics for a limit at 11.5 pounds.” The daytime bass bite is limited to a few hours in the early, early morning. Catfishing is improving with the warmer water conditions while crappie action has slowed. The lake dropped slightly from 87 to 85 percent.
The striped bass action is starting to emerge with small linesides boiling on the surface with the hot weather. The linesides are chasing the tiny shad, and small swimbaits are working for lure casters. The key is to move into the boils slowly without spooking the schools and driving them down. Hogan is at 62 percent.
Eastman and Hensley Reservoirs
The algae bloom at both Eastman and Hensley remains, but the bass fishing has been excellent at both locations. Due to the ongoing algae bloom, signage has been posted around both reservoirs to caution adults and especially children about avoiding areas with blue-green waters which may contain toxins.
Eastman is an excellent option for largemouth bass with a winning weight for four fish during a Saturday night Turkey Shoot at 23.24 pounds. Sharif Zagsaw of Fresno came in with big fish at 9.83 pounds as part of a second-place limit of 18.91 pounds.
Merritt Gilbert of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “The evening bite is good to 1:00 a.m. with one angler picking up 30 from 2.75 pounds and better throwing crankbaits, ripbaits, and the River2Sea glide baits. After scoring a 28-pound limit for 5 fish, he anchored up and set up his catfish rods with hot dogs and tried to get some sleep, but the catfish wouldn’t let him doze off. He ended up with 8 catfish between 7 and 14 pounds which are the first big catfish I have heard of this year. The larger bass are holding in deeper water over rockpiles or island tops while there are numerous bass in the 11- to 12-inch range along the banks.”
Hensley is also kicking out some larger fish including a legitimate 13-pound largemouth by Terry Lamming of Fresno on a custom-made plastic in 10 to 18 feet of water. Gilbert said, “Lamming also landed a number of bass in addition to the big largemouth.”
The crappie bite at Hensley has slowed, but anglers willing to work hard are able to find the small slabs near structure with minijigs or live minnows.
Eastman dropped from 64 to 61 percent and Hensley from 35 to 32 percent.
San Luis Reservoir/O’Neill Forebay
The striped bass action has been slow for the majority of the summer months at both the O’Neill Forebay and the San Luis Reservoir, but there have been increasing signs of life over the past few weeks.
Jesus Reyes Silva of Hollister and the ‘How to Fish’ group said, “We got on a topwater bite with stripers boiling 10 feet in front of us near Dinosaur Point, and the boil lasted for nearly an hour and a half. The stripers are chasing silversides, and there are some larger fish in the 22- to 25-inch range in the boils. They are hitting topwater lures in perch very aggressively, and after the first boil stopped, we moved to a second location in the dark. We kept our limit and released the rest to catch another day.”
Travis Porter and KC Wilson of Hollister were tossing lures in the coves for keeper stripers to 25 inches on Saturday.
Roger George of Roger George Guide Service said, “The troll bite has been tough overall, and it will take a lot of work. I fished with Andy Bedell in the 100 degree heat and found the bite sporadic at best. We ended up with over 15 fish released from 22 to 27-plus inches trolling a variety of shad-colored lures like Lucky Crafts and Duo’s. There was no one thing that was working and I found them hanging from 30 to 70 feet. The water temperatures are still at 70 degrees due to the constant winds, and the algae bloom is limited. I’m launching at Dinosaur Point for now to be sure to be sure that I get on, and it also really helps if the north wind comes up for loading your boat. It went from flat calm to 20 plus mph in less than 5 minutes last time. Anglers need to have an escape plan to get off the water when this happens and not get caught in huge waves.”
Gavin Cohen of Coyote Bait and Tackle in Morgan Hill, said, “Big topwater baits still are best with the 7-inch Evergreen SB 150, Super Spooks in bone, or 7-inch Magnum flukes in white. A few anglers are downsizing to the smaller Evergreens in 125’s in bone or Half Mirror Wakasgi. The forebay is kicking out smaller fish than the main lake.” A huge 45-inch striped bass was caught by Li Tyson at the forebay on a topwater lure.
The lake dropped from 59 to 55 percent
The kokanee and trout continue to be the story at Shaver Lake, although the action slowed down a bit over the weekend. The fireworks display the previous weekend didn’t seem to bring the bite to a stop early in the week, but there is heavy boat pressure on the weekends and even during the week.
Dick Nichols of Dick’s Fishing Charters said, “The fishing at Shaver may be a little less productive, but it's still very good. This week’s charters produced multiple limits on each trip of mixed fish. We are fishing the triangle of Shaver marina, the Point and the island mainly in the very early hours for kokanee, and after the sun hits the water, we move into trout country to complete limits. The kokanee seem to like 31 to 40 feet deep with the 72 degree surface water while the rainbows are found from 8 to 30 feet deep. We are using Mountain Hoochies in champagne pink, orange and white tipped with scented corn behind a Mountain Dodger while the trout are hitting green and orange Trout Busters or Mounatin Hochies in pink with tips of crawler and corn behind Mountain Flashers.
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service said, “The surface temperature is 71-73 degrees with good clarity The Sierra Marina had solid fishing between 29 and 52 ft. early in the week, but an outflow of current caused the majority of the fish to move out of the area later in the week. The Point and deep channel area near the outflow seem to be the best bet with fish ranging from 13.5 to nearly 16 inches at depths from 28 to 40 ft. throughout most of the day. The Rocky Mountain Tackle double glow orange squid with a Moonshine Sunburst dodger continues to be the hot ticket. The purple Moonshine dodger with a purple cotton candy squid and Dick's mountain balltroll flasher with an orange kokanee Buster or pink or orange RMT Viper spinner are also producing well. We have continued to score from 1 to 4 trophy trout most days with 2 to 3 limits of kokanee salmon all using Gulp maggots. We had a number of short bites in the morning, but Saturday brought aggressive biters all morning, even better than the rest of the week.”
Steve Santoro of Fish Box Charters also found limits of kokanee and rainbow trout for his clients on an early week trip.
The lake held at 94 percent.
Trout fishing has improved, and there have been at least three large brown trout over 25 inches landed during the week on either blade/’crawler combinations or Rapalas. The action up the river arm remains at the mouth of inlets with Thomas Buoyants in #2 in brass/red. Bank fishing is fair at best with trout dough bait in pink or orange near the launch ramp or along both sides of the dam. The lake is close to full capacity.