Denis Peirce: Collins Lake pumping out the largemouth |

Denis Peirce: Collins Lake pumping out the largemouth

A good recipe for bragging-size largemouth bass is to mix into your lake frequent helpings of planter trout.

An 8- to 12-inch planted trout is continuously looking for another pellet meal. They do not arrive from the hatchery with the concept of being the meal. They are exposed to this reality by the largemouth bass population in Collins Lake ” located between Grass Valley and Marysville.

A 5-pound bass can consume one of these “truck trout” whole. Bass larger than this will be looking for seconds as soon as they have finished swallowing the first one.

Grass Valley anglers Ed Everhart and Matt Nadeu fished Collins Lake last Saturday as the weather front was moving in. Early in the day, under bluebird skies, the fishing was tough. They fished the shoreline from the bank down to 40 feet without a bite. They constantly changed baits with no success.

At mid-afternoon the cloud cover moved in along with a breeze that put a chop on the surface. At that time Ed tied on an 8-inch “Huddleston Swim Bait.” Swim baits are soft rubber lures that look exactly like a rainbow trout. With their paddle tail they swim with an undulating motion like a trout.

In the first 15 minutes with the swimbait Ed hooked up and landed two largemouth in the 5-pound class. That was on the east side of the main lake. When Ed and Matt moved back to the west shore, Ed encountered the largest fish of the day.

This bass followed the bait all the way to the side of the boat before attacking. This fish looked to be in the 10-pound class, but it did not get solidly hooked and escaped. A fourth bass hit at a distance from the boat; that one also did not stay hooked.

The common denominator to all of the action was the structure. All of the big bass were on points in water 5- to 10-feet deep. The other detail is that the points broke off into deep water. The swim bait was fished close to the surface and the bass came at them from below. Ed fished all of the shoreline. On flats and gently sloping terrain there was no sign of bass feeding. It was only on sharply sloping points that he found bass.

Water temps were 44 degrees on the main lake and 43 back the inlet arm. At the inlet the water was dirty brown, while on the main lake the water was green-stained with 2 to 3 feet of visibility. Ed noted that there were a number of trollers fishing for trout with some fish being landed. Look for Collins Lake to really take off as the water gets close to 50 degrees.

I received an interesting e-mail from a friend of many years, Dave Mann. He mentioned seeing quite a few salmon on the Lower Yuba. Dave has been fishing this river for at least two decades and had not seen salmon in February before.

I made some phone calls and there are also good numbers of salmon on the Feather River below Shanghai Rapids. Bob Boucke at Johnson’s reports anglers casting lures for stripers were hooking up salmon in the big hole below the rapids.

Over on the Sacramento there are salmon in that river also. The Sacramento has a winter salmon run but the fish on the Feather and Yuba rivers is a new phenomenon to all the people I spoke with on the subject. Salmon angling is closed on all these rivers.

The sturgeon fishing has been quite good on the Sacramento between Knight’s Landing and Colusa. The rise in the river levels puts the sturgeon on the bite. The increased flows also bring up more fish from the delta.

When the Sacramento River rises with major rain events the water flows over the top of the Tisdale Weir and pours into the Sutter Bypass. It then flows south down the Sutter Bypass and returns to the Sacramento at Verona. Fish migrating upriver often will ascend the bypass rather than the main river channel.

Last week, when the water receded there were large numbers of salmon, stripers and sturgeon caught below the weir. The river has now come back up and the fish have moved on. When they were stuck below the weir, the pool provided a glimpse of what goes on in the depths of the Sacramento River.

” Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union, the Sun’s sister paper in Grass Valley. He may be reached at

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