Countdown To The Trout Deadline: Collins Lake Teeming With Trout

We’re counting down to Saturday’s statewide trout opener with stories from April issue. Today: Collins Lake will have plenty of options for troutheads:

With an aggressive stocking program and some expected great spring weather, Yuba County’s Collins Lake should be a top spring destination for trout anglers. (COLLINS LAKE)

By Chris Cocoles

One of Northern California’s most popular and productive trout fisheries is ready for a spring flurry of activity. In other words, get out to Collins Lake for mild, pre-summer weather, some outstanding fishing and, if you have a sweet tooth, some delicious ice cream.

Jacob Young of Collins Lake resort (530-692-1600; collinslake .com) says the combination of steady but not heavy rainfall has helped raise the reservoir level while maintaining solid visibility, and the usual abundance of trout plants should make the fishing cook.

“We are currently sitting with a full lake heading into this season, which is now the second year of having a full lake level. Water clarity is looking good, and the current forecast appears to be showing that we are exiting winter weather and entering spring with warm weather and clear conditions on the extended forecast,” says Young, who is part of a generational family-run business at this Sierra foothills lake in Yuba County (California Sportsman, June 2022).

“I certainly expect that we will be going into the spring season with a spike of trout activity. We have been planting regularly since October and are now on a weekly trout planting schedule, so the lake is abundantly stocked. In addition to the weekly plants, we will also be releasing our netpens of trout that have been raised on site over the winter.”

Along with plenty of rental boats to fish out of, this month should provide bank anglers with plenty of hungry trout to target. “During the spring months, it is hard to beat fishing with PowerBait or nightcrawlers from the shore,”says Jacob Young of Collins Lake resort. (COLLINS LAKE)


Young thinks many locals around the Sacramento Valley and surrounding areas will be eager to break out the trout rods as spring beckons.

“With the warmer weather coming, we will expect to see busy days ahead and much more fishing pressure on the lake. Months of cloudy, wet and colder weather have anglers biting at the bit to get outdoors and hit the lakes,” Young says. “With a full lake, the shoreline fishing access will be limited for the next couple of months. We highly recommend those who can (to) come on weekdays instead of weekends.”

There will be plenty of fish in the sea – er, lake – for those anglers to pursue even if there is a lot of weekend activity. Young says a more aggressive planting schedule in recent winters has helped the new trout acclimate to the lake just in time for the peak of the trout fishing season.

The 2023-24 plants have been going on since October and fish will be released weekly until mid-May, when the water temperature will be too warm to continue stocking.

“Every private plant that we receive will include catchable-size trout as well as trophy trout in the plant – which are planted in at at least the 4- to 6-pound range, if not bigger,” Young says. “As of mid- March, we had planted about 30,000 pounds of trout, and between our upcoming plants and netpen releases, we’ll have over 20,000 pounds being planted over the coming months.”

Lightning trout have also been stocked since fall 2022 and continue to be sent into Collins each month.

You’ll have a good chance to land a trophy Collins rainbow like this one, thanks to private plants that contributed to the almost 50,000 pounds of fish that will have been planted since last fall. (COLLINS LAKE)


Spring is a great time for shore anglers to dunk some nightcrawlers or PowerBait.

“We have been seeing the lightning trout biting at the orange- to pink-spectrum lures and baits. With PowerBait, I have always stuck with taking out chartreuse or yellow and have always done well off the shore. It is simple, but it works,” says Young, who suggests anglers should also watch CS correspondent Cal Kellogg’s YouTube tutorials on Collins. Kellogg regularly guides on the lake.

“His content is relevant for anglers trying out new techniques or learning how to fish here at Collins Lake,” Young adds.

As for boat renters or those who bring their own watercraft, trolling Kastmasters, Rapalas or flies from the willows located along the east shoreline toward the dam makes for a good approach.

“I have many friends who will also use their boat to fish the shoreline on the east side of the lake and avoid the pressure from the accessible day- use areas by the beach and dam,” Young notes.


Collins has stayed busy with derbies and special events. In March, it hosted a kids’ tournament, the Get Out And Fish Junior GOAFer Derby, plus the Rec 4 Vets Fishing Day.

“Get Out And Fish (GOAF) provides a platform for the fishing community to connect – from their Facebook group to allow members to share advice and tips or link up to meet fellow anglers and go fishing together, to events like the GOAFer derby,” Young says. “Seeing platforms build connectivity and provide resources to each other is encouraging to see.”

As for the vets’ day, Young states, “Being able to use the sport of fishing for not just a personal hobby, but as an avenue for greater impact, connect with a larger community of anglers and create lifetime experiential memories, shows how integral fishing is to our society.”

The lake will also continue to host an annual stop on the Anglers Press Trout Challenge schedule, April 13 this year. Last year’s spring tournament attracted 145 participants and Young expects more entrants this time. Collins Lake is also the home for the Trout Challenge’s Tournament of Champions, slated for Nov. 2-3, with a boat being awarded as a grand prize.


Some new features to Collins this year include Wi-Fi throughout the campground area this summer, when it figures to be busy, a new zipline apparatus at the playground, a new cabin rental and regraveling a section of campsites, which will allow for non- hookup lakefront sites in the spring.

And did we mention the store’s famous frozen treats?

“I am working with our ice cream supplier to get an exclusive flavor made just for the lake,” Young says. CS

Editor’s note: You can also connect with Collins Lake at