View Full Version : Crystal Basin - Trout Fishing & Camping Questions

08-28-2007, 11:45 AM
I am going up to the Crystal Basin area the second week in Sept. to trout fish (including salmon and koks) and camp for about 5 days. I have only been to Ice House one time to bank fish and to UV to check it out. I will probably camp at UV and would like a suggestion on a good camp ground there. I doubt there will be many people there during the week but I'd like to camp in a nice area that is as close to the water as possible so I can bank fish in the evening at either UV or Ice House. *Suggestions?
Also any info which lake (Ice House, UV and Loon) might produce the best and what lures, dodgers etc. I will be fishing from my boat with dr's but may do a little bank fishing at night.
It will just be me and my lab so if any of you Sniffers are going to be around the area 9/9 thru 9/13 drop by for a cold one or go fishing with me.
Waterdog :)

08-28-2007, 01:01 PM
Try what this guy wrote. It seems like good info. Not sure how long ago it was written.

Mackinaws are the big predators of the lake, with fish in the 10 to 20 pound class taken every year. The lake compares with Donner Lake as a trophy mackinaw fishery, but it doesn't give its secrets up easily, according to Stafford Lehr, DFG fishery biologist. The reservoir is planted regularly with mackinaw fingerlings; this year the DFG planted 1,000 mackinaw in the lake.

Jim Brittain of Sacramento, who caught a 24-1/2 pound monster mack at Union Valley last year, piqued my interest about the reservoir when he called me about a recent trip to the lake that produced two macks I weighing 10 and 15 pounds. Before Chris Dunham and I made our trip, he advised us on how to catch the macks.

"During the summer, your best bet is to fish in the afternoon from noon until 6p.m.," he advised. "Troll M-2 Flatfish for the larger macks and nightcrawlers behind flashers for the smaller macks at around 100 feet."

"It doesn't really matter what to use for them as long as you drag the bottom," added Brittain, who also uses Rebels for the macks. "I've used frog, silver/blue lures and other patterns and have caught fish on all of them. However, you want to fish as slow as you can. The fish are found all over the lake, particularly in the fingers."

It was a warm summer morning when we arrived at the lake and launched the boat. Our strategy was to fish for rainbows and kokanee in the morning and then try for mackinaws in the afternoon. We looked for Bob Simms of the KFBK Outdoor Show, who was planning to fish Union Valley the same day. However, we couldn't find him, so we decided to go up to the lake's powerhouse, where Simms advised us to fish for rainbows.

The fishing started out promisingly as we trolled to with the Mercury 50 hp four stroke motor. The powerhouse was running, as evidenced by the swirls of water near the powerhouse. We put down two rods, both with nightcrawlers behind flashers, and I hooked up a scrappy 13 inch rainbow on the first pass. On the next pass, Dunham also got bit, but he didn't land the fish. We made two more passes, but the water stopped coming out of the powerhouse, so we decided to go near the dam to look for Simms.

Rainbows provide the most consistent action at Union Valley usually. The DFG planted the reservoir with 8950 catchable rainbows weighing 5,700 pounds this year, so lots of fish are available.

Simms, who had got there the night before, was fishing for kokanee, but had only caught and released three small rainbows so far when we located him. "I got a concentration of kokanee corralled here," he said. "If I get them to bite, I'll shout for you to come over."

We wanted to catch more rainbows, so he advised us to troll at 15 feet deep along the dam. He had found good action on a mixture of planters and holdovers during a previous trip while trolling chartreuse/silver 1 inch Apex lures and a #1 Needlefish with a red head, chartreuse body and silver tape.

However, while fishing around the dam for an hour, we didn't hook up any more fish. We saw Bob release a 14 inch mackinaw and a 9 inch kokanee, but that was it. We also saw Ed and Jason Ritchie jigging for mackinaw near the dam with Gibbs Minnows. Ed caught one 2 pound rainbow, which turned out to be the nicest fish we saw all day.

At 12:30 p.m. we went to fish for mackinaws, along with several other boats. The wind was howling, making it increasingly difficult to troll. We heard reports of several anglers catching small mackinaw, but we never actually saw anybody catch a fish while we trolled. We saw rainbows on the graph at 15 to 30 feet and mackinaw from 65 to 140 feet, but neither species wanted to bite.

Kokanee can be good at times for anglers trolling Sockeye Slammers, Ted Bugs, Cripplures, Wedding Rings and other lures. "Usually by June anglers are knocking the fish dead, but this year the fish are still spread out," said Bob Simms. Union Valley kokanee are known for their exceptional size; fat fish in the 17 to 20 inch class were taken here last year. The DFG planted the reservoir with 50,000 kokanee fingerlings this season.

Smallmouth bass are a sleeper fishery for anglers at Union Valley. The main problem is the lake's outstanding water clarity. "The water is so clear that you have to finesse the fish. The big fish are very hard to catch; you'll catch 15 undersized fish for every keeper," advised Simms. "Use small 4 inch worms with dart heads or Caroline rigs while splitshotting in open water. In the weedy areas, use Tiny Texas rigs with 1/16 ounce heads."

The lake has four boat ramps at Jones Fork, Peninsula, Yellowjacket and West Point near the dam. Camping is available at the Fashoda, Jones Fork, Sunset, and Wench Creek, Yellowjacket and Wolf Creek campgrounds. No store or marina is located at the lake, but the Icehouse Resort has fishing tackle and groceries available.

For camping and other information, call the El Dorado National Forest, Crystal Basin Recreation Area, Pacific Ranger District, (530) 644-6048. Fishing information on Union Valley and other Crystal Basin lakes is available by calling the Icehouse Resort (530) 293-3321.

08-28-2007, 02:23 PM
I was just up there last weekend and I spend alot of time in that area. Campfires are resticted in Campgrounds (as of August 7th) that don't have piped in water so if you are at Ice House stay in the main campground by the launch. The other two campgrounds are Strawberry Point and Northwind. Those two are patrolled by the forest service and there is a big fine if you have a campfire.
If you want to camp on UVR try Wench Creek if it is still open, that is where I ended up and there are some nice lake side spots (the water is way down though).
Fishing should be better at Ice house definately for trout. Three weeks ago some friends of mine were soaking worms by the back where the lake narrows, 55-60 feet down on the right side and they did very well. ...Several limits
At UVR we went down about 70 feet and hooked into some macks but the trout bite was real slow.

08-29-2007, 06:06 AM
The fishing at Loon for me has been very good, although the size of the fish are on the small side.
Half a crawler and a watermelon sidekick has worked real well for me as, well as a green wedding ring behind a blue tiretack dodger.
For depth I stay on top until the sun is on the water, then I go from 7 down to around 30 ft.
There are some real nice boat in camping sites, as well as a nice camp ground.
Check your PM's... ;)

08-31-2007, 11:50 AM
Here's a little more help for you. I personally like the Peninsula camp grounds at UV. You shouldn't have a problem getting a nice site near the water and the boat ramp is right there. Check the water level before you go to see if the ramp is open and check a map so you can get an idea of where you will be.

Now for the fish, Ice house has been planted heavily of late, but it will probably be fished heavy this weekend so the fish may be hard to find. Troll flasher crawler or dodger crawler near the dam, inlets, and points. Try on top early and late, then target the fish with a fishfinder.

UV was low the last time I was there, but try for kokes with koke bugs, hootchies, or spinners tipped with corn. You'll have to see what depth they are. Try for trout near the pumphouse, same tech as Ice House. The dam may also produce too.

Loon is the best bet for you, same tech. for the trout. LOOK OUT FOR SUBMERGED ROCKS!!!

For the latest info and best gear for these lakes visit my buddy's site: http://www.kenscustomtackle.com/default.html If he's fished up there latley he will have the best information. He also has lures specially made for those lakes. His lures can also be bought at the Longs Drug in Pollack Pines.

Good luck.

09-05-2007, 05:49 PM
A word of caution about the Wench Creek campgrounds (and possibly others) at UVR. Be sure to take precautions with your food to keep the bears from raiding it. I camped there last month and had 3 bear encounters over 2 days, one from 10 feet away at 1 in the morning! So as not to alarm anyone, the bears were not aggressive but I do think one pawed at my tent which was a little uncomfortable.

I'll be back up there on the 14th thru the 16th if you end up staying longer than you planned. I'll send you a message with my number, maybe we can hook up.

09-06-2007, 09:20 AM
Just want to say - Thanks to all of you for the great info. I am going up to Crystal Basin on Sunday for a few days and hope to catch a boat load of fish.
And JayHawk I see that this is your first post *- Welcome to the boards. *You will find great information and great people here.
Waterdog :)