Shasta Fall Trout Derby – Tough Bite But Very Large Trout!

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The 17th Annual Shasta Lake Fall Trout derby took place on the weekend of October 14 and 15.  The lake was in fantastic shape, only about 45 feet down and clear and beautiful.

John Brassfield and I arrived at Sugarloaf Cottages and were greeted by Bruce Wicks and Al Fiske of Foresthill.  We barbequed steaks and had cocktails and cigars overlooking the beautiful Sacramento River arm of Shasta Lake.  Dave Barsi of Oak Run, his daughter Alicia and Mark Kalinowski of Concord would complete our group in the morning.

We launched the Rogue Jet 21 Coastal on Friday and pre-fished with very little luck and were a little worried on what to do Saturday.  The lake was in the midst of the fall turnover, and the trout were spread out all over the lake and the water column.

The author with the 4 trout they finally caught on Sunday on Excel and Speedy Shiner spoons.

The weather on Saturday didn’t help the fishing, with 15 to 25 mph north winds blowing the lake into a froth!  John and I started in Dry Fork right at 7 am and immediately had a double hookup!!  This was an indication of our day ahead – 2 nice fat bass!  We fished for about 2 hours in Dry Fork and caught 18 more bass before we decided to try somewhere else.

It was not to be our day – we emptied our tackle boxes trying to find something that would catch a trout.  For the first time ever fishing these derbies – we came back to the dock empty handed!!  No trout for 9 hours of hard fishing!  We must have caught 30 bass all the way down to 100 feet deep — too bad it wasn’t a bass derby!!  At the weigh in, we found that out of the 47 registered teams, 22 didn’t weigh in a trout!

At the derby dinner at the Lions club, we talked to lots of our competitors, and found that some had caught fish on the surface, some had caught trout down to 100 feet deep, and some caught none.  All we could do was put today behind us and try to knock ‘em dead on Sunday.

Sunday the wind died down and the weather improved significantly.  John and I started in the main body off Bass Cove.  I had an Excel Hart Indian Special down at 65 feet for about 5 minutes before it was popped off the Cannon downrigger and we had our first trout of the day – a nice 19-inch, 2-½ pound rainbow — a great way to start the day!  We fished all over the main body from the surface down to 100 feet, and ended up with 4 trout to weigh in for the day.  3 of them came toplining a rainbow pattern Speedy Shiner at 3 mph.

At the weigh in, not many people had fish, but those who did had Big Fish!  Brett Brady and Ron won the derby with a total weight of 22.50 pounds, with a weight of 14.5 pounds on Sunday that included a 4-½ pound brown and a 4-pound rainbow.  They trolled spoons and Apexes 100 feet deep at 3 mph.  The second place team trolled Sling Blades with wiggle hoochies 25 to 45 deep at 2 mph.  The third place team trolled Kastmasters on the surface!!!  Obviously, the fish were scattered all over the place!

As always, we had a great time fishing this derby, in spite of the tough fishing.  All the folks in Lakehead who put on the derby are very friendly and want everyone to have a good time. The weigh in takes place the newly remodeled Bass Hole Bar & Grill both Saturday and Sunday.  We stayed at the comfortable Sugarloaf Cottages Resort.  They offer 16 comfortable cabins right on the lake, with one, two or 3 bedrooms, full kitchens with utensils and dishes, comfortable beds and bedding, and great patios with barbeques overlooking the lake.

For more information, call (800) 953-4432 or go to

For more information on the Fall Trout Derby, as well as the spring Trout & Salmon Derby, contact Harold at Sugarloaf Cottages or the Basshole Bar & Grill at (530) 238-2170.