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Northern California Fishing and Camping: Whiskeytown Lake

Whisheytown Lake

Whiskeytown Lake is a wonderful lake for fishing and boating {no personal watercraft allowed} and just about anything outdoors, except hunting. Believe it or not you can actually hunt Whiskeytown Lake in certain areas. But here’s the deal, it's a federal park, and there is so much confusion over where you can hunt and where you can't hunt that I don’t want to provide you with any information on it. I was at the visitor center one time and I asked the lady running it where the hunting areas were, before she could answer a lady about 50 years old standing next to me piped up (very loud and boastfully) and said that she was a retired game warden and had worked the area for years and that there was absolutely no hunting on a federal park ever. The lady running the visitor center quickly corrected her in front of everyone and told her that hunting was allowed on the park but in certain areas, and provided a detailed map. The retired warden was surprised and set back on her heals and looked very embarrassed. The moral of the story is go ask the people at the visitor center and get a map.

The trout fishing at this lake can be incredible. The water here is much colder than Shasta Lake and the shoreline is very easy to access. Most of your boat fishermen troll along the edge of the lake and to tell the truth I have never fished that way so I can't provide any information on that. The bank fishermen usually fish the shoreline around Judge Carr Powerhouse (west end of the lake) when the lake is up and when the powerhouse is running. They use just about any trout lure or bait and do very well throughout the summer. A local tip for you, this lake is stocked almost every week in the summer sometimes twice a week. When the lake is up, I have seen the DFW stocking truck stock right alongside Judge Carr Powerhouse. I have also seen it stock at Whiskey Creek boat ramp and when the lake is down they seem to only stock at the boat ramp at Whiskey Creek. If you don’t want to walk very far or you can't walk very far these areas are good places to fish and not a far walk, at all, from your vehicle.

You do need to buy a day pass or annual pass from the visitor center to recreate here and there are a few campsites at Oak Bottom off Hwy 299. This lake has park rangers patrolling it all day and night but for some reason they have a problem with theft in the campgrounds and vehicles being burglarized but this is a good lake for trout and bass. Around late November there is a good kokanee salmon run in the Whiskey Creek area near where the creek crosses under the road and joins the lake.

Just a note of concern, in 2018 the Carr Fire started near the Judge Carr Powerhouse at Whiskeytown lake. This was a devastating fire and most of the campgrounds, boat docks and recreation areas were destroyed in the fire. To my knowledge there are no campsites open as of August 2019. But the boat docks are all open and the fishing is wonderful.

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