Countdown To Trout Opener: Fish On The Prowl At Collins Lake

Photos courtesy of Collins Lake.


Saturday is the statewide general trout opener.  Our April issue commerates “Fishmas Day” and we’ll count down with a story every day this week leading into Saturday’s opening day.

Today: Collins Lake trout are already biting and ready to fish for.


By Chris Cocoles 

While a massive storm swept through California and into the Sierra toward the end of March, a mostly mild winter should benefit trout anglers heading to Collins Lake, an hour’s drive from the Sacramento area. 

“With the unseasonably warm weather we had in January and February, we decided to bump up our fish plants to have one to two plants every week from Presidents Day weekend to May,” says Jacob Young of (800-286-0576). “Each plant includes trophy trout as well as catchable trout.”

Overall, Collins Lake will have stocked some 30,000 pounds of trout in the spring, besides the 11,600 pounds that were stocked in the fall. Young says the reservoir is home to the state’s largest private trout planting north of Sacramento.

A big part of the outfit’s program is represented by the 12 net pens they have been raising trout in – some of the trophy variety too. In April and May, the net pens will release 5,000 fish, including some coveted Eagle Lake rainbows.

“Every fall we stock our net pens with trout to raise over the winter to release throughout the spring in a joint effort with (California Department of Fish and Wildlife), Kokanee Power and (California Inland Fisheries Foundation Inc.),” Young says. “By raising these trout throughout the winter, it allows for them to become more acclimated to the lake environment and grow to where they are all catchable size by the time they are released.”


While many trout chasers are waiting for the April 28 general opener in the Sierra – the possibility of more snow is always a factor in slowing down the fishing action – there could be some fantastic trout fishing throughout this month down the mountains at Collins. 

“We are seeing just as much activity from the shore as we are from boaters. For those in boats, they’re trolling with Kastmaster, Needlefish or Rapalas, in the 5- to 10-foot range. For shore fishing, most colors of PowerBait have been doing really well,” Young says. “As the weather starts to warm up throughout the spring, the lake temperature will start to rise and the trout will start to drop to the deeper waters.”

“We will start to see an increase in traffic throughout the spring as the weather starts to warm up. The weekdays are still very quiet and weekends are starting to pick up. We will see more activity on the holidays and weekends and will be very busy from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. We see more recreational activities (swimming, tubing, etc.) pick up in late May and through the summer. So April and early May provide a great quieter and relaxing environment for fishing than the more active summer months.”

April and May also feature three trout derbies, sponsored by Angler’s Press (April 7), the California Inland Fisheries Foundation Inc. (April 28) and the Collins Lake Family Fishing Derby (May 12). You can sign up for all three at 

“All three derbies make for great fun family outings with opportunities to win cash and/or prizes,” Young says. “With the incredible catches we have seen already and expect to see all spring, we highly recommend signing up for one of the derbies.” CS