Collins Lake is one of Norcal’s best-known trout fishing destinations, but the lake also has a robust bass population that goes overlooked by many anglers.
In the past I’ve spent a good deal of time targeting bass at Collins Lake and I’ve generally found solid fishing. I’ve caught smallmouth bass in the lake’s river arm, but overall I’d describe Collins as a spotted bass lake with a strong contingent of Florida strain largemouths.
The lake record for smallmouth bass stands at just over 3 pounds, while spots over 8 pounds and largemouth over 15 pounds have been landed. While there are indeed some monster spots and largemouths in the lake, it’s the number of fish available and the intimate nature of the fishery that I enjoy.
Collins isn’t a tournament lake like Folsom or Berryessa and as a result it doesn’t get a ton of pressure. When I’m probing the coves in the river arm or checking out the structure and cover along the east shore, I’m seldom approached or bothered by other bass anglers.
These days some of the bass at Collins have spawned, some are on beds and yet others are in a post spawn mode. For me soft plastics like 4 or 6 inch Robo Worms or 4 inch Senkos and small rip baits are the top two offerings during the spring. Often times I’ll work a shoreline with rip baits and then hit the same stretch again dead sticking a Senko. This way I pick off both active and inactive fish.
I’ve experienced great topwater fishing at Collins during the months of May and June. Walking baits work fine, but I’ve had my best success working Rebel Pop Rs along the eastern shore and in the river arm.
If you’ve got your sights set on hooking a trophy bass at Collins, there are three methods you’ll want to focus on. During the spring and fall, large soft plastic trout imitating swimbaits are the way to go. When the big bass drop down deep during the summer and winter months, a jig ‘n’ pig is a proven performer.
During the summer and fall night fishing can be a fun and challenge way to attempt hooking the bass of your dreams. The best way to hook up is to drag a 10 inch Berkley Power Worm across the bottom. Any color worm will work as long as it’s pure black from nose to tail.
About The Lake
Collins Lake, situated at and elevation of 1,200 feet, lies about midway between the cities of Marysville to the north and Grass Valley to the south. When at full capacity the lake boasts 1,600 surface acres of water and 12.5 miles of shoreline.
The Collins Lake Recreation Area offers all the amenities an angler requires and is family friendly. The recreation area’s facilities include a boat ramp and marina, picnic grounds, camping sites, RV sites, rental cabins and trailers, general store, laundry equipment, hot showers, sand swimming beach and a children’s playground. If you don’t have your own boat don’t despair. The marina offers outboard equipped aluminum fishing boats, patio boats and ocean kayaks.
While bass can be caught in any part of the lake all year long, traditionally the eastern shoreline and the river arm offer the best opportunities for the average basser.
Knowledgeable deep water structure anglers (think Larry Hemphill) do very well working jigs and other baits around main lake shelves, humps and rockpiles.
For more visit the Collins Lake website at www.colllinslake.com.