I love getting different perspectives on fishing bodies of water. Sometimes we interview people with a ton of experience on a lake or river. But I find it equally valuable to talk to someone who fishes a bass fishery for the first time.
Bass pro Matt Luna fished a tournament on California Bass Fishing Spot Lake Shasta this past January. He shares with us how he went about catching bass for his first visit to Lake Shasta.
How much experience did you have on Lake Shasta before the tournament?
I do not have a lot of experience fishing Lake Shasta. Wild West Bass Trail pro/am event late January was the first time I had fished the Lake. Prior to going there for the tournament, I had never even seen the lake.
Lake Shasta is a gorgeous place and I would love to go back. The Wild West Bass Trail will be back at Shasta in January 2019, and I’m hoping I will be at the event. I still need to determine if I am financially going to be able to do it. Shasta is a large, deep water lake, with clear water. I caught fish on the bank, and all the way down to 50 feet.
How much pressure was on the lake during the tournament?
Lake Shasta has multiple marinas, and is very large. From an outsiders perspective, Lake Shasta does not seem to receive as much pressure as the lakes I am used to fishing in San Diego.
Lake Shasta receives a fair amount of rain and can receive snow in the winter, and air temperatures can be cold as well, which would keep some recreational boatersoff the water. When I was there this past January, there was a lot of rain, and it was cold. I was in my rain gear pretty much 4 days straight.
What is the mix of spotted, smallmouth, and largemouth bass on the lake?
All three species of fish are present in Shasta, but the spotted bass are by far the most caught. When I was there, my first fish I caught was a smallmouth, but I caught mostly spotted bass. I would consider Lake Shasta a spotted bass fishery if I had to choose one.
How was the fishing during practice and the tournament?
For me, even with no prior experience there, I had no issues catching fish. The issue I had there was finding the quality fish. Lake Shasta has quality fish in it, but there were not many caught in the tournament.
Catching limits was not a problem, but a limit could have been around 6 or 7 pounds, and a good limit was around 10 pounds. Each day of fishing was good in terms of quantity, but the best day overall was probably my first day of practice.
There was a front moving through the area and there was some wind and rain. The fish were eating pretty good. I had an area where I caught two fish on one cast on an Alabama Rig. Both of the fish caught on that one cast would have culled probably any of the fish I caught during the tournament. The key to success that day was the weather. The weather set up right for the fish to bite, and the remainder of the event was either in the thick of the storm, or post frontal.
What structure pattern were you focused on?
The most prevalent types of structure that I am aware of in Shasta are the submerged rocks, and in some areas there are large trees that come out of the water. One of the areas I did well in practice had these large trees. The water temperature was pretty cold when I was there, so grass was not a factor. There are also a number of bridges that have pilings that go down into the water. Sometimes the bass will suspend on these pilings, and can hold some quality fish.
How important were good electronics for you on Lake Shasta?
Electronics can play a major factor at Shasta. I caught fish on the bank, and all the way down to 50 feet. I caught fish casting a Carolina Rig and also vertically fishing a drop shot looking at fish on my graph. If you are good with electronics, it would be beneficial to spend some time trying to exploit that strength.
When the fish are deep and relating to certain structure, being able to eliminate areas by graphing can save tons of time. Eliminating water can be key in practice and can also be very helpful during the tournament. Eliminating water allows you to be as efficient as possible with the time you have.
Did you have a certain bait for largemouth bass?
I did not find a certain bait or presentation to be key in catching largemouth over the other bass in the lake. There may be keys in locating largemouth over the spotted or smallmouth bass, but I was unable to determine that. In a typical tournament at Shasta, finding quality spotted bass will keep you in the hunt. Finder a kicker spotted bass will push you to the top of the field.
What were you catching the Lake Shasta spots on?
My favorite way to catch fish at Shasta was on reaction baits. The reaction bait bite in practice was good, but it slowly died for me as the event went on. I found myself fishing a drop shot and Carolina Rig a lot during the event.
If I go back in January, I am going to try and cover a lot of water in practice and hopefully locate a few schools of above average fish. Last time, I was too worried about locating areas where I could get bit in practice, and should have spent more time looking for quality.
Did you catch many smallmouth on Shasta Lake?
The smallmouth were the least prevalent fish for me. I specifically remember the first fish I caught during practice was a smallmouth, but don’t recall how many more I caught during the remainder of the time I was there. Obviously smallmouth are in there, but if what I experienced is the norm, I wouldn’t focus too much time on locating smallmouth unless you want to catch smallmouth specifically.
Overall, what are 5 pieces of advice that you have for anyone targeting bass on Shasta Lake for the first time?
- Cover water – catching fish generally is not the issue at Shasta, so spend time trying to find the above average fish.
- Try to develop a pattern – Shasta is a large body of water and has tons of points and cuts. If you can find a pattern there is plenty of water to run.
- Use your time wisely – As a result of the lake being large, you don’t want to be spending a lot of time just driving around. Try to find an area of the lake that has have multiple areas for you to go to.
- Have fun – The fishing at Shasta can be a lot of fun. There are a lot of bites to be had!
- Bring rain gear – If you are fishing Shasta in the winter, be prepared for rain, wind, cold, and maybe even snow!
Who are your current sponsors?
My entire goal with fishing is to get to the point where I can do it for a living. All my sponsors assist me in being able to pursue fishing professionally. I am currently working with Last Chance Performance Marine, Skeeter Boats, Powell Rods, Nines Optics, The Rod Glove, X Zone Lures, Rahfish, and Xyience energy drinks.
Last Chance Performance Marine is the dealership where I purchased my Skeeter ZX200. I love that boat and it enables me to fish all the events I want. The boat is fast and reliable. Last Chance Performance Marine is ran by great people, and provides great customer service.
I have been using Powell Rods for a long time, but I have only been working with them the past year or two. I’ve purchased many rods, and have loved them all. It is easy to promote a brand that you have been using for years.
Nines Optics is a relatively new sunglasses company that has some of the best glasses I have worn. The clarity, color, and what I am able to see under the water is better than any pair of polarized sunglasses I have worn before. They have a number of different styles. I wear the Toledos around town, and on the water I wear either the Apache’s, Berryessa’s, or Sturgeon’s. The new Chartreuse lens is awesome!
The Rod Glove and X Zone Lures have been working with me from the start. At the very beginning, they were willing to work with me. The worked with me before I did any interviews, and before I had any kind of social following. The Rod Glove rod sleeves are the best. The tapered tips help me keep all my rods in my rod locker, and keep them from snagging on one another, and keep me from breaking guides. X Zone Lures is always expanding their line up of great plastics. One of my go to baits is the slim slammer. I love using that bait on a drop shot. Their new ned zone bait is great on a ned rig!
Rahfish is an apparel company that has t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, beanies, neckies (sun buffs), and a lot of other items. The clothes are comfortable, well made, durable, and stylish. The brand is fishing focused, but all their clothes can be worn out on the town, to dinner, on the water, or anywhere else.
I have been drinking energy drinks for years. I drink one in the morning like many people drink coffee. Working with an energy drink company like, Xyience is a great fit for me. Their drinks taste great, have zero sugar, and have enough caffeine to keep me going. A lot of times I have one before I go fishing in the morning, and have another one around mid day to help me stay alert and focused the remainder of the day.