My wife, Jeri, and I recently returned from a week-long fishing and sightseeing adventure to the Redding, California, area and Shasta Lake. Due to my involvement in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and its state team competition, we return every other year during the springtime, which is by far the best time to visit this part of northern California.
We worried about this year’s trip because of the terrible fires that ravaged the area in 2018. And, to be sure, we saw sections of the Interstate 5 freeway that looked similar to the aftermath of the Yellowstone National Park fires of 1988. However, the areas immediately around Redding, and extending to the Shasta Lake Dam and beyond, were quite literally a tale of two areas. The west side of Shasta Lake, along the Sacramento River channel, was burned to a crisp. Although never a truly complete burnt, the mosaic pattern of dirty browns contrasted with lush greens covered the hillsides, the fire having been stopped at the lake shore.
Then, on the east side of the main reservoir, it looked as if nothing had happened. Thick, green forests, rolling hills adorned in spring flowers and grasses dominated the landscape. We marveled at the differences that a few hundred yards of water made in where the fires burned and where they did not. The economic impacts of the fires will be felt for many years to come as roads, bridges and, in many cases, people’s homes and livelihoods went up in flames.
As for the fishing, Shasta Lake is one of my all-time favorite places to wet a hook. Shasta boasts a robust largemouth and spotted bass population along with a burgeoning smallmouth bass population too. One of the main attractions for anglers fishing for spotted bass is that spots will bite regardless of the time of year or day. They are voracious feeders and when you know where they like to hang out, catching a limit is quite easy.
While preparing for an upcoming tournament, I was able to watch local boats catch fish after fish on consecutive casts preparing for a fish fry later in the week. The anglers used small white grubs on a 1/4-ounce jig hook to catch (typical) one-pound spotted bass. Their technique was not elaborate. They used spinning tackle and eight-pound-test line. Their boats were positioned on either side of main lake points and they would cast their lures right to the shoreline, being careful to “swim” their grubs back to the boat.
If that were all you did from April through August, you would be rewarded with catches of 50 fish per angler per day with few problems. Several people (who I spoke with) from Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Washington use Shasta Lake as their vacation getaway and spend up to a week on the lake at least once or twice a year.
Bridge Bay Resort and Marina (where we stayed) is completely dialed in to the traveler. They offer boat and slip rentals, houseboat rentals, guides and, in short, anything one would need to make a trip to Shasta Lake a memorable experience.
Jeri spent a couple of days with me on the water and caught some nice spots on her little grub. She really enjoyed seeing the sights. On the water, we were treated watching eagles, ospreys, grebes, ducks, Canada geese and more loons that you could imagine. The rest of the trip, Jeri toured the area, chronicled the fire damage and even played a few rounds of golf.
If you ever have a chance to visit Shasta Lake and actually do some fishing, expect to have one of the best fishing trips of your life.
As a team, our Utah anglers took third place out of the 11-20 person teams and were rewarded by cashing a check for our efforts. Individually, Tom Nokes, of Riverton, won the event and punched his ticket to represent Utah at the B.A.S.S. Nationals to be held on Hartwell Lake in South Carolina in November.