Countdown To Fishmas: Collins Lake Preview


We’re counting down the days until Saturday’s statewide general trout opener. Today: Spring trout should be active at Collins Lake:

By Chris Cocoles

With a higher water level and liberal trout stockings scheduled throughout the spring, expect some outstanding fishing at Collins Lake.
Located in the Sierra foothills a little more than an hour northeast of Sacramento, Collins is ready to go for its spring trout season despite being affected by the drought conditions that have plagued Northern California.

“We are currently between 18 to 19 feet down from full. Last year the highest lake level was 32.5 feet (down), and we ended the summer season at 76 feet down, which is the second lowest on record,” says Jacob Young of Collins Lake resort (530-

“So while it is concerning to have a dry start to 2022, it is also a relief that our fall and early winter rains brought us out of the territory that we were in last year going into this coming season.”


Collins Lake has always been one of the best trout fisheries for Sacramento Valley residents. Young says 40,000 pounds of trout will have been stocked at the lake from November 2021 through next month.

“As of the end of March we (had) 28,000 pounds planted and will continue to have weekly plants of 2,000 to 3,000 pounds each through May,” Young says. “We have the largest private trout stocking program north of Sacramento.”

It’s a far cry from where things stood in the fall of 2021, when like most reservoirs in Northern California, Collins Lake was in a bad enough spot to threaten the 2022 trout campaign.

“I reached out to the trout hatcheries to give them a heads-up that we would not be able to plant trout in the fall and we would set up a tentative spring planting on the basis that we would need rain to raise the lake level to get them locked in,” Young says.

“About a week later the ‘bomb cyclone’ weather event happened (in late October) and rose the lake level enough to where I was then reaching back out to the hatcheries to not just lock in the spring plant schedule, but also see what they could start bringing us that next week.”

The NorCal Trout Challenge series ( cal-trout-anglers-challenge) also returns to Collins Lake on May 7 with an event that’s become a popular attraction.

“This derby is ideal for every angler, as they have an adult and kids division with an inexpensive entry fee (adults are $25 and kids free), great raffle prizes and an atmosphere that makes for a fun day at the lake,” Young says. “This is the only public derby scheduled for this spring, so it is poised to be one of the highest-at- tended NTAC events.”



While the rainbows – many of the weekly plants have been private hatchery trout, with several trophies included – are the headliner this spring, don’t overlook some out- standing bass fishing in the next couple months of mild weather before the summer heat arrives.

Bass activity was mostly quiet in February and March, but Young expects the action to pick up soon.

“They are still in prespawn and hungry, so we expect to see an in- crease in activity heading into April,” he says. “With warmer weather in the forecast and daylight hours expanding, we have seen the lake temperature go from the mid-40s to currently in the mid-50s and increasing.”


Collins figures to stay busy with day-trippers and overnight guests throughout spring and the summer season. The resort offers almost 300 campsites that include non-hookup campgrounds and lakefront sites with electrical outlets and water. There are also cabin and RV trailer areas available.

“We provide numerous rental options, amenities for families to en- joy and a friendly staff to assist our guests with any questions or needs that may arise,” Young says. “Our staff works diligently year-round to provide a welcoming, clean and safe environment for families to come and connect with one another and with nature.”

And as Covid restrictions have been reduced for now, Young and the rest of the staff are expecting a lot of visitors in the coming months.

“We have many families that have been coming annually for generations to Collins Lake, and it is our mission to continue operating in a way that they continue to return each year for the experience that they expect and intro- duce these fond family memories to the next generation of their family.” CS