It’s middle of January as I launch the boat on a crisp, windless, gray day at Centamudi launching ramp near Shasta Dam. There is about 6 inches of hard crusty snow lining the shore that seems to make the day colder than it really is. I have a vision of sparkly ice crystals blowing from my rod guides as I reel in line. I am thinking this must just be too chilly for any serious effort at hooking a fish. But the fishin bug has struck me, and I must answer.
Psych! The above description is one from memory about a outing years ago. This day’s detail goes as follows. Yes it is the middle of January but the day is as bright and sunny as any spring day could be with a temperature in the low 70’s. Can you imagine? The only snow shows as white patches along the higher ridge lines, and the brightly lit visage of Mt Shasta. The trees and bushes along the shore show heavy budding from the unseasonably warm weather of the past week. We can only hope the winter rains come back to fill the lakes, and ensure our northern California lands can stay as green longer into the hot months.
A fellow January angler is just pulling out to go home as I prepare my boat to launch, and we talked a little about his successes of the day. We also shared fish pix from our phones in a nostalgic way about warmer weather catches. I found out his best lure of the day was a split tail root beer colored grub. His electronics showed fish suspended in the 45-60 foot depth range. He caught all of his fish right there. Slowly working rock outcroppings in that depth range only produced one small spotted bass this day.
I launched the boat and headed for my favorite coves near the Shasta Dam straight away. I noticed hardly any driftwood on the forebay, and as a matter of fact, there was very little driftwood to be encountered anywhere. This is always a plus in the months that Lake Shasta is filling. Driftwood deposited on the shore from the previous year migrates out onto the water as the lake level rises, and this can make it dangerous for boaters not paying enough attention. Most of the time the little pieces of wood will only go tick, tick against the hull, but sometimes the thunk of a larger piece will sound and the possibility of getting stuck in the prop, or sucked into a jet pump is real. Just keeping vigilant “eyes forward” should prevent this danger to the excursion!
The water on this day was pretty turbid. I gauged the visibility to be about 16 inches by watching my downrigger weight coming up when I trolled. I have found darker colored offerings to show better in these turbid conditions. Black, dark brown, and purple seem to work really well, but not for me on this day.
I spent some of my time fly casting a black leech pattern in places having running water entering the lake to no avail. When the shadows crept into the cove I was reminded of January winter chill. The air temperature plummeted rapidly, and I left following the sun, and began to troll. There were a lot of fish signatures in the depth range stated by the fellow at the launch, and there were quite a few boats trolling in this area, but I didn’t get one hook up. The guys in the other boats I spoke with said my experience was much the same as theirs. No fish boated.
Fish boated or not, it was a beautiful day to try Ketchinnee on Lake Shasta in Mid January.