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Kokanee bite on Whiskeytown

Jeff Goodwin author photo, my outdoor buddy

By Jeff Goodwin
05/16/16 -- Whiskeytown Lake is producing a red hot bite right now, and there is no end in sight. We are already seeing the best fishing on Whiskeytown Lake in many years, and thats saying a lot because its normally very good. These Kokanee are obviously enjoying an abundant food source and the result is that they are growing very quickly! I've seen the average jump to 13"-14" from 11" just a few weeks ago, with an occasional 16" fish in the mix.

It's still very early in the season since fishing for these silver bullets usually holds well into October. This means we will likely see some 18-19" Kokanee hitting the boards by fall.

Fishing the weekends has seen a very big jump in boat traffic and the parking lot at the Whiskey Creek boat launch has been filling on the weekends. I've never seen it like this, but I am super excited to see that the interest in Whiskeytown has exploded the way it has. These Kokanee are fat and dime bright with bright orange meat that is arguably some of the finest tasting fish anywhere. With the quality of these fish, and the shear number of Kokanee available, its no wonder it has taken off so well this year. Heck, I'm even seeing some guides on Whiskeytown that are normally fishing the Sac for trout this time of the year.

Whiskeytown creek parking lot, photo by Jeff Goodwin
Whiskey Creek boat launch at maximum capacity, photos courtesy of Jeff Goodwin

If you are a late starter and find the Whiskey Creek boat launch choked with trucks and trailers, just head west on SR 299 and use the Oak Bottom facility to launch. It has all the amenities you could imagine including a 4 lane launch and a fish cleaning station. Most anglers fish the Whiskey Creek arm of the lake, but I'm here to tell you that Oak Bottom is full of Kokanee as well.

2 kokanee salmon, photo courtesy of Jeff Goodwin
A double hookup of Kokanee salmon in the net

We fished the Oak Bottom area of the lake and it didn't disappoint. We had easy limits of Kokanee fishing out past the mph buoys in 50-90' of water. Troll your gear at 1.2-1.5 mph 25' behind the down rigger ball and you'll be in the game. I fish a Yakima Bait Co Spin-N-Glo rig developed by AC Guide Service tipped with Pro-Cure garlic corn in pink or orange.

young girl next to a display of fish, photo by Jeff Goodwin
Gracie Goodwin posing with three limits of Whiskeytown Lake Kokanee salmon

Whiskeytown Lake has definitely been a sleeper the past several years and I know, because I've been fishing it quite a bit over the years. The benefit for me has been to gain a lot of experience with this fishery making it easy for me to qualify as one of the top guides on another piece of "home water" here in Shasta county. Time on the water is paramount for mastering any body of water, and I can assure you, the time has been put in. I'm excited to share Wiskeytown Lake Kokanee with my clients this year and am confident it will be one of the best trips they have all year. If you would like to spend a day on Whiskeytown Lake fishing for Kokanee salmon with me, give me a call and I'll get you booked. You won't be disappointed! Tight Lines...

Jeff Goodwin is a full time Northern California fishing guide and owner of Shasta Bass Baits where he manufactures and sells custom made bass baits. He guides year round for salmon, trout, steelhead, Kokanee, and bass on Northern California rivers and lakes. He fishes many bodies of water in the Redding area, but also spends many days of the year fishing on the Klamath River chasing ocean fresh King salmon and steelhead. To learn more about the fishing trips Jeff offers or to check out his Shasta Bass Baits, please visit Jeff Goodwin's Guide Service or Shasta Bass Baits at, Facebook, Instagram, or feel free to call him anytime at (707) 616-1905

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