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Browns Valley: Potential Collins Lake record catfish filleted

BY PAUL LEBOWITZWON Staff WriterPublished: Sep 05, 2019

BROWNS VALLEY — A big catfish caught by Collins Lake regular Hilario Sandoval of Vacaville might have been a lake record – it bottomed out the Collins Lake Recreation Area scale – but it was filleted before manager Lincoln Young could return with a scale sufficient to the task of weighing it.

“It likely would have been a lake record, but forever will be lore and a single photo,” said Ed Palma, the Recreation Area’s Fish Reporter.

WHAT PROBABLY WAS a new lake record catfish at Collins Lake bottomed out the 22-pound scale on hand, so it was never officially weighed. The big fish was caught in front of Campsite 116 by lake regular Hilario Sandoval of Vacaville, who was soaking chicken liver in the evening. It was estimated at over 30 pounds.

According to Young, the current lake record catfish is 24 pounds. The scale Sandoval’s fish bottomed out went to 22 pounds. “The fish was easily over 30 pounds,” he said. “We missed getting an accurate weight on that thing by an hour. It was definitely a very big fish, but how big it was is just a mystery.”

Palma said Sandoval had seen all the big catfish coming in recently and decided to give it a shot, rushing to the lake on Tuesday Aug. 27 to wet a line.

“He sat in front of Campsite 116, hook baited with chicken liver,” Palma said. “At 9 p.m. under twilight’s shadow, Sandoval’s drag buzzed with the long persistent pull characteristic of scavenging catfish, and then the fight against man and monofilament was on.”

Young said Sandoval told him he used heavy leader (he didn’t specify the pound test), but it was heavy enough that he reeled the fish straight in. Sandoval said the same leader reportedly broke on another fish hooked later that night, suggesting even bigger ones are out there.

Palma said when he landed the fish it was battle-scarred, with rope marks on its tail, the evidence of a recent escape, but Sandoval was in the right place at the right time with the right bait. “It seems to be catfish season at Collins Lake,” Palma further said.

Sandoval wasn’t done, returning on Aug. 28 and catching 3.5- and 7-pound catfish near the main marina on chicken liver. Vinny Simonson of Santa Rosa got into the whiskerfish game a day later, catching his own 10 pounder on chicken liver in front of campsite 488, at the northern extremity of Elmer’s Cove.

After a couple weeks of better than expected trouting, given the high, 80-degree surface water temperature, action slowed. “There are still a few trout and bass coming, and the trout are consistently near the dam with Power Bait, but overall I would call it slow,” Palma said.

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