Lake Shastina

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Northern California / close to Oregon border
Nearest town: Weed, California
Targeted species: largemouth bass
Date: August 5, 2006

Lake Shastina is a small private lake with one public boat launch and a nearby public campground. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Shasta, the mountain's presence dwarfs the lake. I had heard good reports on bass fishing from a number of sources. Having been skunked on this small lake early in the spring during a cold front, I was eager to try again, but I worried about fishing during the heat of summer, particularly after a dismal outing to Dog Lake near Lakeview. My guide, Danny Mays, is the president of the Mazama Bass Club of Klamath Falls. I had just phoned him the previous day asking about the club and how to join. He kindly invited me to join him the next day. As a lifetime fly fisher, the learning curve for catching bass has been more challenging than I care to admit. Had I fished the lake alone, I am sure I would have had poor success and blamed it on the weather. By 1:30 when the heat was oppressive, we called it a day. Danny had caught at least 20 fish, and I had caught four.

Although there is a bit of a disadvantage when fishing from the back of the boat, truth be known, I have not picked up on the subtleties of the bite when fishing soft plastics. As soon as we reached our first fishing target, we tried crankbaits and spinnerbaits without any luck. Danny switched to a smoke colored Senko, while I pitched a tube bait. After Danny had caught four nice bass, I too switched to a Senko, Texas rigged. I never had a bite, and during this time Danny caught three or four more bass, each one averaging a pound and a half. I asked for help.

Danny was fishing his smoke colored Senko wacky style with a #1 hook. I added a #2 hook and tied one of his worms on wacky style. Finally, I caught a couple of fish, but in the meantime, Danny was constantly landing fish. His technique was to cast and watch his line during the worm’s descent; when the line reached bottom, he allowed it to sit for 60 to 90 seconds before he would shake the worm. The key was to shake the worm while keeping it in contact with the bottom. Slowly he would inch the worm to the boat with occasional shaking and pausing. The key was to keep focused on the line for any movement and the slightest tick on the line or rod signaling a bite. Danny didn’t wait for a second bite. He set the hook on the first perceived bite.

I caught two more bass, but I have to confess that I never felt the bite. I set the hook on the shake! Hey, I’ll take them any way I can get them. Although I won’t give away any secret spots, the lake is small enough that a first time angler will find productive waters in no time. We had our best success fishing 12 to 15 feet deep.

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