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Fishing at Whiskeytown Lake


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Whiskeytown Lake is a lake in Shasta County in northwestern California, about 8 miles (13 km) west of Redding. The lake is in the Whiskeytown Unit of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area. It has a capacity of 241,100 acre feet and is formed by Whiskeytown Dam on Clear Creek. Before Whiskeytown Lake was constructed, the area's streams and creeks provided an abundance of fish for people and wildlife. Today, one of the most popular water sports within Whiskeytown National Recreational Area is fishing. The clear waters of Whiskeytown support a variety of game fish that can be successfully caught from a boat or from the lake and stream shoreline.

Fishing is allowed year- round in the lake, however, the streams feeding Whiskeytown are only available for fishing from the last Saturday in April through November 15.

License Requirements
Anyone 16 years old or older must have a valid California fishing license displayed on his or her person. Fishing licenses may be purchased at the Oak Bottom Marina during the summer season. Special Regulations
Fish of any kind may not be used for bait. Fishing hours are from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset for trout and salmon. All other fish may be taken day or night.

Posted Closures
All creeks and tributaries to the Sacra- mento River are only open from the last Saturday in April through November 15. Clear Creek below Whiskeytown Dam is catch and release only. Contact park headquarters for special posted closures.

California Regulations
Fishing at Whiskeytown NRA must be done in conformity with the laws and regulations of the State of California unless otherwise specified in this bulletin. Please refer to the “California Sport Fishing Regulations" printed annually by the Department of Fish and Game, State of California for further information. Whiskeytown NRA is located within the Sierra District.

Fish Safely
• Be at a safe distance from others before making a cast.
• If fishing from a boat, wear your Personal Flotation Device.
• If wading be sure of your footing.
• Carry drinking water with you to avoid dehydration.
• Obey posted warning signs.

Disabled Access
Accessible fishing piers are located at Oak Bottom across from the Marina and at the Whiskey Creek launch ramp.

Bait and Tackle
Bait and tackle may be purchased at the Oak Bottom Marina during the summer season.

In the Waters of Whiskeytown

Brown trout are dark brown or olive on back, golden brown on sides, white/yellow on belly. Dark spots on the head, body and dorsal fin are large and distinct. Rainbows are silvery with distinct black spots on the upper half of the head. The “rainbow" bands extend from the head to the caudal fin and are reddish to violet. They are found throughout the lake, but often congregate in colder waters during the warmer times of the year, such as those found in the Carr Powerhouse area. Salmon eggs, spinners, power bait, and night crawlers are usually most effective.

Kokanee Salmon
This landlocked form of sockeye salmon can be distinguished by its greenish-blue back with faint spotting and silvery sides and belly. During spawning season, salmon turn a deep red color. Prefers deep, cold, open water areas of the lake and Whiskey Creek. Trolling is most effective. May be caught with flies, bait and lures.

All bass, Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spot- ted, have a single dorsal fin, the spiny and soft dorsals being continuous. Prefers warmer, shallow water in coves and around islands with aquatic vegetation or stumps and trees. Plastic worms, bass jigs, spinner baits, and lures that imitate small fish or crayfish are most effective.

Sunfish, such as Bluegill and Crappie, congregate in schools and will bite just about any bait you may use. Both fish prefer coves and warmer waters near aquatic vegetation. Try small plastic jigs, small poppers, salmon eggs, and worms.

Brown and Channel catfish have long barbles (whiskers) around the mouth. Spines in the dorsal and pectoral fins can pierce the skin and cause irritation so handle this fish carefully. Catfish frequent warm waters and are night scavengers, usually taking any edible bait fished on or just above the bottom.

Sacramento Pikeminnow
A torpedo shaped body with a long pointed snout, the back of this squawfish is light brown with a yellow belly. It prefers areas where slow and fast water come together. Can be caught on a variety of baits and lures but ones that imitate small fish are most successful.

Jay Bryce is a community manger at ( has fishing and local information for over 40,000 lakes and fishing areas in the United States. Information includes current weather and forecasts, best times fishing charts, maps, local businesses and more. also has a large library of fishing videos .


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