Twitch, twitch…tug, twitch, twitch, I gently picked up the Cousins tackle spinning rod and opened the bail on the Abu Garcia Cardinal. The trout were a bit sluggish, so I wanted to give the fish plenty of slack.
Seconds went by and nothing happened, but then the fish came back and coils of line started flipping off the reel, slowly at first and then faster.
I snapped the bail closed, allowed the line to tighten and set the hook. The rainbow might have been a bit lethargic when mouthing the ball of Zeke’s Sierra Gold, but it came to life with the sting of the hook and put up a spirited fight.
With my 14 inch rainbow on the stringer, I quickly got the rod back into the water and Gene Rush and I settled in to await the next bite.
It was December 2 and we were fishing at Collins Lake, one of my favorite trout fishing destinations whether I’m fishing bait from the bank or trolling from a boat. In truth while we were bait fishing, we weren’t on the bank. Instead we were situated a few feet offshore on the Collins Lake fishing and rental boat dock. It provided an awesome platform to operate from and we didn’t even get any mud on our shoes!
When I picked Gene up in Foresthill the streets were wet from rain and we were a little worried that we were going to get dumped on, but we didn’t encounter any rain during our trip. Instead the conditions were just about perfect. The overcast skies made for a low light level and with zero breeze the lake’s surface was calm and mirror like.
As I rigged a pair of spinning rods for bait soaking, Gene walked the dock and made casts with a quarter ounce chrome and blue Kastmaster. The chrome and blue Kastmaster is a great lure at Collins Lake during the fall and I was a little surprised when Gene didn’t get hit.
With the bait rigs in the water it took about a half hour for our first rainbow to come knocking. A while after putting the first fish on the stringer we got a couple bites that didn’t result in hook ups. For whatever reason, the trout were pretty tentative and just wouldn’t take the bait and move away.
It was about 11 o’clock in the morning when Gene hooked and landed our second fish. This one was pretty much a carbon copy of the rainbow I’d caught earlier except it preferred yellow PowerBait to the orange Zeke’s dough that I’d used to tempt mine.
Gene and I contemplated trying a new area a couple of times, but quickly dismissed the idea. We’d been watching several boats trolling offshore and hadn’t seen them hook anything and likewise we hadn’t seen the bank anglers working nearby hook anything either. Clearly we were on the fish, they just weren’t bitingvery vigorously.
Overall the trout bite has been excellent at Collins Lake so far this December with both trollers and bank anglers catching some impressive trout. A group of guys that call themselves, “ The Slow Trollers Fishing Club” recently hit the lake and caught a bunch of fish while pulling Rapalas. Richard Minor set the standard for the group with a 7 pound rainbow. In total the slow trollers boated 21 rainbows and 18 spotted bass. Manny Castor had a 6.4 pound ‘bow, Al Deabel nailed a 5.8 pounder and Lou Altomar got a hefty 5 pound rainbow.
Not to be outdone by the trollers, Riley and Mike Ernst rounded up a 4.8 pound rainbow while soaking orange PowerBait from the shoreline. Addison Seino from Yuba City also used PowerBait from the bank near the dam to land several trout including a 3.8 pounder that went for chartreuse dough.
Aggressive trout planting has been underway at Collins for more than a month and it really shows in the catches as visiting anglers are rewarded with a mix of fresh planters and holdovers. The shear number of trout over 3 pounds that have been landed this fall is pretty impressive.
But alas no matter how many fish are in a lake, they don’t bite like gang busters everyday. After Gene put his trout on the stringer things really slowed down for us. We waited another 90 minutes and when no more bites came hunger got the better of us.
There is a Mexican restaurant in Grass Valley that we almost always visit when we take a trip to Collins. When Gene and I started talking about what we were going to order, I knew our fishing trip was over. When I suggested that we call it a day Gene jumped to his feet and started gathering up our gear and minutes later I was steering a course for a plate of steaming hot fajitas!
Despite the fact that we landed a pair of quality rainbows, the bite was clearly off during our visit to Collins. I’m not sure if the weather was to blame or if it was just our day to struggle. Sometimes the fishing gods just like to laugh at me!
If you’re interested in getting away from the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle while landing some late fall rainbows, Collins is a great place to go. As of press time trollers were still scoring with small Rapalas and bank anglers were still hooking up on dough baits.
For more information, contact Collins Lake, (530) 692-1600, www.collinslake.com.