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Don Allphin: Whiskeytown, California — more than meets the eye | Water Sports

On the second and final leg of my journey across the country to participate in two national and regional bass tournaments, I am on Lake Shasta this week, a few miles north of Redding, California.

I decided to write about a second fishing destination very near our tournament waters, a destination I can recommend to anyone wanting a great vacation and a fantastic fishing experience.

Whiskeytown is a 39,000-acre portion of the larger Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area established in 1965 and located in northern California. The Whiskeytown Unit boasts four picturesque waterfalls, old-growth forests, pristine mountain peaks and plenty of land-based recreational activities including camping, hiking and mountain biking through 70 miles of hiking and equestrian trails. A stunning, crystal-clear lake provides myriad water-based recreational activities, and the lake itself is the anchor to the entire experience.

Originally known as Whiskey Creek, it is believed a barrel of whiskey fell from a mule train christening the stream, and eventually the settlement was renamed “Whiskeytown.”

Its history is inseparably connected with the gold mining days of the late 1840s. Miners seeking their “golden” dreams panned and mined in and near the local rivers and streams, and at one time, it is said the miners found an average of $50 dollars of gold each on a daily basis. Much of the original Whiskeytown was inundated in the 1940s when the lake was filled. Even today, panning for gold is a popular activity in the park.

Whiskeytown Lake is located 8 miles west of Redding, and of course gets its name from the old settlement and the National Recreation Area. From kayaking to paddle boarding, sailing to swimming, Whiskeytown Lake is a local favorite and in some circles is a well-kept secret, especially when it comes to seeing and catching giant bass.

Some of the participants in the B.A.S.S. Regional Tournament at Lake Shasta this week took some time off to visit and to fish at Whiskeytown Lake. Here is just one angler’s story.

Gabe Literell, 17, from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, took part of Monday off to take a look at Whiskeytown Lake and to try to catch a huge spotted bass. He launched his boat and he and a friend fished its beautiful water from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The lake is surrounded by pine trees and is very green,” Literell said. “We started fishing on main lake points in around 20 feet of water and eventually found ourselves in the back of a cove where a stream entered the lake. We tied on a 4.5-inch Roboworm on a drop shot rig and fished it near a flat rock at the 8-foot level. I used an AOX 7-foot spinning rod, a Zolo B series called a Trickster. I love the rod and knew that even with 5-pound-test line, it could handle big fish.

“A fish eventually picked up the lure and because it was so clear, I could…

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