Why you should fish California this winter


Shaye Baker

For most everybody reading this column it’s a long drive out to California. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that you can come to the Sacramento area this winter and experience some of the best — if not the best — bass fishing in our country.

Within a 100 mile radius of my house there are at least 30 lakes with excellent bass fishing, and all three major species are represented. You could fish one lake a day for a month and still have a couple leftover. It’s an unbelievable place that doesn’t get its share of attention.


Clear Lake isn’t too far from here. In a recent tournament the winning weight was 64 pounds. Second place brought 62 pounds and change to the scales. And that’s with a 10 bass limit. Those weights will stack up against any lake or river in the country.

Lake Berryessa might be the best bass lake in the country. I guarantee you that right now there is a world record largemouth, a world record smallmouth and a world record spot swimming around in it without a care in the world.

It’s in the Napa Valley. There’s a lot of things to do and good lakes all over the place so you won’t see very many other anglers if you fish her. During the week it’s totally dead and even on the weekends you’ll only see three or four other boats.

Another great thing about Berryessa is that you can catch bass on what you already own. Don’t buy a lure — not one — before you come out here to fish this goldmine. Topwater plugs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastics, jigs and everything in between will bring them to the boat. It’s unlikely the bass have seen any of them.

Another gem I’d like to mention is Bullards Bar, home of some of the largest spotted bass ever recorded. At least one of them is in the 10-pound class. It’s not as easy to fish and it has a lot more recreational traffic than Lake Berryessa but during the winter it’s not too bad.

Lake Shasta is another great one that should be on your bucket list of places to fish. I recently shot a promotional video on her. It took two hours and we caught so many fish that some of them had to be cut from the film. Catching multiple 3-pound bass with all three species represented is nothing to brag about on Shasta.

The California Delta is here, too. Right now the water is at 64 degrees. The bass are just starting their fall activities. If you’ve read anything on this site, I don’t have to tell you what it can produce.

Now, like I said before I know that it’s a long trip for most you. But it’s doable if you approach things right.

Get several anglers together so you don’t cross the wide open spaces of the West by yourself. It’s nice to see a friendly face if you have trouble.

Look around for a place to stay before you leave. There are tons of rental houses and cabins that’ll be available this winter. Dividing the rent by four or five makes them affordable.

You don’t need a guide to fish any of the places I’ve mentioned. There are good maps available, and the fishing is intuitive. But, if you want to fly, there are guides available.

I do have to admit that it gets cold around here at times. You’ll sometimes wear heavy clothing for part or all of the day, but it’s not the snow and ice that so many of you guys are used to fighting.

When you start planning your trip, contact me through my Facebook page. I’ll be more than happy to help. Be advised, however, that my Facebook page is for fishing only. I don’t want to hear about any of the circuits, the latest tournament controversy, politics, religion or anything else.

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