Trollers Battle Large Rainbows at Collins Lake!

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Collins Lake, a popular rainbow trout, black bass, catfish and panfish fishery located on Dry Creek in Yuba County, is back in business after being shut down for over a month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nestled in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills, just over an hour northeast of Sacramento between Marysville and Grass Valley, Collins is a 1600-acre lake and recreation area with 12 miles of shoreline.

“Fishing has been good,” said Ed Palma of the Collins Lake Resort. “Lots of trout are being taken by trollers and there is a ton of bass activity.  Trout are moving off shore, so most are catching trolling at about 25′. If you are stuck on shore find a good drop off to cast over.”

“On the weekends the lake has been very busy with boats and day use to the point where we had to shutdown Day Use last Saturday,” said Palma. “Folks want to get outside and who could blame them. Avoid the heaviest crowds by coming Monday-Thursday.”

“Collins Lake is open with some operational changes that you can read in the PDF linked at the top of .  “Thanks for being respectful and flexible, thanks helping us stay open,” said Palma.

Brady Blankenship from Yuba City caught a huge rainbow trout on a Mag Lip while trolling really slow near the dam. Self reported the fish weighed 9 pounds.

More than 50,000 rainbow trout are planted in Collins every spring and fall, meaning that Collins Lake has the largest private planting program north of Sacramento. Thousands of these trout are trophy- sized, planted at 3 to 8 pounds and growing even larger.

The resort, in cooperation with the CDFW, Kokanee Power and CIFFI, has also sponsored a successful pen-rearing program to enhance the trophy trout fishery at the reservoir.

The CDFW puts the trout in the 12 floating pens at a size of 2/3 lbs. each November. When they are released in increments between mid-March and the end of April, they range from 2-1/4 to 3 pounds. This year the net pens will be filled on November 19 by the CDFW, assisted by lake staff and local volunteers.

“They’re beautiful fish with full fins that look much more like native or holdover trout,” said Lincoln Young, manager of Collins Lake Resort. “Since they’re already acclimated to the lake’s waters, they’re brightly colored, their flesh is firmer and they fight harder than recently planted trout.”

The CDFW planted brown trout in previous years, but they haven’t stocked browns for over 8 years.

Trout grow big and fat in Collins, feeding heavily on the lake’s abundant threadfin shad and other forage. Rich Moore set the lake rainbow record of 14 pounds, 3 ounces in May 2009. The lake brown record, set in 1991 by Bill Clutter, is 9 pounds.

Spotted and largemouth bass offer great fishing at Collins also. Dan Raub captured the lake largemouth bass record of 13 pounds, 4 ounces in June 1998 while fishing a live crawdad. James Everhart employed a trout swimbait to nail the lake spotted bass record of 9 pounds, 8-1/2 ounces in 2008.

“Spotted bass are the most abundant bass in the reservoir,” said Young. “We see good numbers of 4 to 5 pounders and fish up to 7 pounds every year. Over the years, we’ve weighed in a dozen spotted bass over 8 pounds.”

Channel catfish also offer an excellent fishery at the lake throughout the year, with the best action generally available during the summer and early fall months. The lake catfish record, set in 2008, is 24 pounds.

To supplement the bass and panfish fishery, Young and the lake management in the past have stocked the lake with Alabama spotted bass, black crappie, bluegill and redear sunfish. “We plant the fish at the size that they can spawn that season,” Young noted.

The lake crappie record of 3 pounds, 4 ounces was set by Probhat Palma in October 2012,.

In addition to replanting the reservoir with warm water fish, they also have conducted their own habitat enhancement project every 6 to 8 years to rebuild the lake’s food chain from the bottom up.

“A positive aspect of the recent drought is that it exposed the shoreline and allowed brush to grow around the lake,” said Young. “When the lake filled after the drought with the rainwater, it inundated the brush, providing good habitat for juvenile bass and sunfish to feed and hide from predators.”

For more information, contact the Collins Lake Recreation Area at 530-692-1600,