I’ve been anxiously preparing to fish at Henderson Springs for the last couple months . Its been a brutal new year with the record rain and snowfall putting an atmospheric river running through most of my fishing this year. I have forgotten what clear water looks like. No one is getting any stripers at the lake which usually starts getting good in mid March. My favorite winter trout trip at Henderson’s was cancelled due to snow. It’s a winter wonderland at Henderson Springs. Mark Henderson and Wayne Holloway are still trapped under a foot of snow up on the high lakes surviving on 10 lb raw trout sushi and eating snow.
With nowhere to fish, I decided to pack up the Synabeggo and researched some lower elevation trout opportunities. Luk Lake was fishing well and because no river runs into it, remains clear. Also, cousin Wayne Syn has been driving to Collins Lake every week and doing well catching planted trout. He told me that the lake has some nice waterfront campsites. Brian told me a couple days before my trip that a Mudslide had closed the Dinosaur Point launch at San Luis Reservoir. After doing a bit of research on the internet, I decided to camp at Collins lake Wednesday through Thursday and met up with Wayne for some Hatchery Trout excitement like we use to do when we were kids. Wayne has done consistently well on trout planting days and has the technique dialed in. I also wanted to test my newly installed 12 volt, flat roof mounted Starlink Internet access somewhere where the was almost no cell signal.
Collins Lake is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of California, offering a serene, private escape for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake boasts an impressive trout stocking program, charming lakeside campsites with electricity and water, and an incredible store where I discovered the most scrumptious ice cream. If you’re in search of the perfect getaway when there are no other flyfishing options, you cant go wrong with Collins Lake which is an easy 3.5 hour drive from San Jose.
Trout Stocking Information
Collins Lake’s fish stocking program is managed by the lake’s private owners, ensuring a healthy and sustainable ecosystem for anglers to enjoy. The stocking program focuses primarily on trout, with a recent release of 2,000 pounds of rainbow trout, many of which weighed between 3 and 5 pounds. This meant that our chances of catching an impressive fish are incredibly high especially if you can plan your camping around a day that they stock. On other days, the fishing is slower but still fun. This last weeks muddy water conditions made fishing around the stocking day even more challenging however i did manage a few fish . I think if the water was clear, It would have been even better. The lake has tons of great shoreline cover for trout and some really big LMB.
During my stay, I walked the shoreline from my campsite to the boat launch where they stock and encountered numerous anglers sharing stories of their past and current catches. Collins lake is full or “regulars” who come weekly to decompress by soaking powerbait from an easy chair on the beach. It became apparent that the lake’s fish stocking program has created an excellent fishing environment that caters to both experienced and novice anglers alike. With the lake’s normally clear waters and ideal fishing spots, Collins lake fishes well from January to May when they stock the lake weekly making it one of the most stocked lakes in Northern California.
Lakeside Campsites with Electricity and Water
One of the most significant advantages of camping at Collins Lake is the availability of well-maintained, lakeside campsites that offer modern amenities like electricity and water. My campsite was situated right along the water’s edge, providing stunning views and easy access to the lake for fishing and swimming.
The campsites were spacious, and each one included a picnic table, fire ring, and grill. The convenience of having electricity and water on-site made our camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable. The campground also provided clean restrooms and showers, which were maintained daily by the friendly staff. I felt secure and well taken care of during our stay. I especially enjoyed the evening campfires I built listening to the sounds of the lake and watching stars . A week ago I was expecting 4 days of atmospheric river but instead, the days were rainless and beautiful with cloudless skies at night. Temps dipped to the high 30’s but the winds stayed light all day and it was very pleasant in the Synabeggo with electric heat and fast streaming High Speed Internet from Starlink. On my best fishing days, I would be forced to return with a limit of trout by noon. I would hang around the camp doing work till about 3PM and go out and catch another bunch of trout and be home well before sundown.
Great Ice Cream at the Store
As if the fantastic fishing and lakeside campsites weren’t enough, Collins Lake also has an on-site store that offers a wide range of supplies, snacks, and, most importantly, the most delicious ice cream in a huge selection of flavors. After a long day of fishing and exploring, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a scoop (or two) of their irresistible flavors.
The store’s friendly staff was always ready to provide recommendations, and I quickly discovered that their ice cream was locally sourced from a nearby creamery. The rich, creamy texture and unique flavors were the cherry on top of our Collins Lake experience. I made it a point to try a new flavor each day and pondered which ones were my favorites by the campfire at night.
A Totally Private Lake
Collins Lake’s private ownership sets it apart from other outdoor destinations. This status allows for better management of the lake’s resources and ensures a more exclusive, secluded experience for visitors. The private ownership also contributes to the excellent trout stocking program, well-maintained facilities, and the charming store that adds a touch of luxury to the camping experience. The campground was half empty from Wednesday to Friday, but on Saturday, every one shows up and it becomes over run with family campers which isn’t that bad. Plus it was St Patrick’s Day and Spring Break for many which may also be the reason for the crowds. Lots of stray cute dogs wandered into my camp as did a couple kids on tricycles. Its all great family fun and I wish I knew about this place when the kids were young.
My camping and fishing trip to Collins Lake was an unforgettable adventure that exceeded my expectations. It was cool to watch this wave of fish head down the shoreline. Wayne and I fished for these trout with Squirmy Wormies 4 to 10 feet off the down from indicators. The stocked trout these days are not anything like the ones Wayne and I caught as Kids. The flesh on these trout are bright pink and they are bred to taste good. The impressive trout stocking program provided an exciting fishing experience, while the lakeside campsites with electricity and water offered comfort and convenience. The delicious ice cream from the on-site store was a delightful treat that left me craving more. If you’re seeking a private, serene, and well-maintained destination for your next outdoor getaway, look no further than Collins Lake. I’m already planning a return trip after processing and smoking the trout fillets I brought back from Collin which were unusually good tasting trout perfect for the smoker. Collins lake is a meat fishing paradise!