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Union Valley Reservoir

Fishing Union Valley Reservoir is an excellent lake for those anglers that would like to try their luck at nice sized rainbows, trophy mackinaws, kokanee, brown trout, and even smallmouth bass. Union Valley Reservoir is located at 4,900 feet of elevation in El Dorado National Forest. The lake is a popular camping and fishing spot for anglers from the Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas. The California Department of Fish and Game regularly plants the lake with Mackinaw fingerlings, and nice sized catchable rainbow trout. The Mackinaws in the lake can reach 10 to 20 pounds or more for those anglers who are able to unlock the secrets on how to catch the highly elusive predators. If you would like to try your luck at catching a big trophy Mackinaw your best bet would be to fish from about 12:00 in the afternoon until about 6:00 in the evening. You should troll an M-2 Flatfish for the trophy mackinaws. Another good bet would be to troll nightcrawlers behind flashers at about 100 feet. Sometimes a Rebel will work good as well. The key is to fish as slow as you can. The fish can be found all over the lake, with the higher concentrations of fish being found in the fingers. If you are like me, and you can't wait until noon to begin your fishing, Union Valley Reservoir has more than just mackinaw. I like to get up early and fish for rainbow trout and kokanee. The best area on the lake for rainbow trout is up by the lake's powerhouse. The best way to hook up with a good rainbow is to troll a nightcrawler behind a set of flashers. The depth to troll will vary throughout the year, but I can usually find fish at about 15 feet deep. Apex Lures and Needlefish usually work good at Union Valley also. If you are looking for smallmouth bass, you have come to the right place. The lake is very clear so it is hard to sneak up on the big smallmouth that are lurking in the lake, but they are there. Four inch rubber worms work best for smallmouth If your fishing from shore, your best bet is an inflated worm with a sliding sinker to allow the fish to bite without feeling any resistance. The worm should be floated about eighteen inches off the bottom. You can also do well along the shoreline with lures. Pick a lure that puts off a good shine, or looks like a small rainbow trout or minnow. Kastmasters, spinners, small jointed Rapalas, small jointed Rebels, needlefish, and spoons are a good choice. The lure should be retrieved at a medium speed. These fish are predatory, and the speed and movement will entice a strike. These same lures are also great for trolling, with my top favorites being anything that resembles the small rainbow trout, or a minnow. Fly fishing works great at Union Valley Reservoir as well. The best spots for fly fishing would be up towards the creek arms. The best types of flies would be anything that has recently hatched, or any type of land insects (ants, grasshoppers, beetles, worms, mayfly nymphs, and caddis nymphs, and the best colors are the dark brown and olive colors. The fish can be challenging to catch, until you find what works best for you. Camping Camping at Union Valley Reservoir is a great experience. High up in the mountains, surrounded by the smell of pine trees, and campfires. There are campgrounds at the lake at the Fashoda, Jones Fork, Sunset, Wench Creek, Yellowjacket, and Wolf Creek campgrounds. There are four boat ramps on the lake and they are located at Jones Fork, Peninsula, Yellowjacket, and West Point. There is not a store or a marina located at the lake but the Icehouse Resort is nearby and it does have groceries and fishing tackle available. For camping and other information you can call the El Dorado National Forest Pacific Ranger District at, (530) 644-6048. If you would like fishing information on Union Valley and other Crystal Basin lakes you can call the Icehouse Resort at (530) 293-3321. All sites are shaded by groves of towering Ponderosa pine, fir, oak, and cedar trees. The campground is in Eldorado National forest, which boasts over 400 miles of hiking trails, an abundance of lakes and rivers for fishing and swimming, and incredible scenery. Here, the climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Nearby Attractions: Take a drive on the El Dorado County Scenic Highway or visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Lake Tahoe is about an hour drive up Highway 50 with lots of gambling, restaurants, hiking, additional fishing, and other sightseeing opportunities. Deer Hunting CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Hunting Page: On the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife hunting page you can find detailed information about the hunting zone, including spotkill maps, harvest statistics, and recommended areas where deer can be found in the beginning of the season, as well as towards the end of the season after the cold winter storms begin to arrive, which kicks off a deer migration from the higher elevations where deer spend the summer, to the lower winter elevations. Deer hunting in this deer zone is best during the archery season because less people want to hunt with a bow, and fight the late summer heat. For rifle season, opening weekend can be like a dangerous shooting gallery with the high number of hunters that have waited all year to get out and hunt, though by the second or third weekend it tapers down to more manageable levels as the success rates in this deer hunting zone hover around ten percent, which can frustrate hunters out of going back to hunt later in the season. Don’t fall into this trap, you can be successful, but you can’t do it without a lot of work. It’s best to do some scouting throughout the summer months to find where the best spots are for finding deer. You have to find areas with less roads, and get away from other people, just like the deer do! You have to do a lot of hiking, and looking for signs of deer. Look for heavily used deer trails, and mark that spot on your GPS. Look for fresh deer feces to show you that they are still in the area as it gets closer to the season. Squish it, if it’s soft, and especially if it’s lighter colored, you will know it’s fresh. There are a lot of Deer out there, they are just hard to find. FInd water, find food, and put in the work to locate them. There are three types of hunting, though the first one is almost certain to fail. The first one is road hunting, which sounds nice, and is easy, but it is sure to fail. It is illegal to shoot from a vehicle, and you have to be a certain distance from the road to be able to take a shot, and you can’t shoot over a roadway either. You may spot a monster buck using this method, but by the time you get out of your truck, load your gun, and get the required distance off of the road to be legal to shoot, there is almost no chance that that monster buck will still be there for you to take a shot. The second method is to spot and stalk, or walk and spot, where you hike around and use your spotting scope, or binoculars to find deer. This takes practice to be good at spotting these hiding bucks. They don’t want to be seen, and they are nocturnal so they sleep most of the day. You may spot an ear twitch, or a tail flip, from hundreds of yards away. This is what you are looking for, and you will see a million birds, squirrels, etc.. that will grab your focus, but as you get better at having the patience to investigate each and every bush in your field of view, you will be rewarded. If you get lucky you may hear a buck heading your way as they get jumped up by other hunters or other animals. I like to walk slowly through these thick forests, maybe eight to ten steps before stopping, glassing with my binoculars, and most importantly, listening. When I find areas with a nice open view, I will stop and rest, and use my binoculars to scour the area before moving on. When you find deer, or fresh deer sign, you should look for a good spot to come back to, and take a long morning or evening stand, where you sit and wait for them to make their way through this area to get your chance at a shot at a big buck! This is the third type of hunting, stand hunting. This type of hunting takes a lot of patience. For this type of deer hunting, you are hoping to have the deer come to you. Some people use tree stands, or ground tent style stands, to help hide movements from the deer. It is important to stay completely quiet, hide your scent, and your body. It is important to wear camo, and it should be a good trusted name brand camo because some of the cheaper brands are made with dyes that actually make you “glow” to the deer. You can increase your chance of success with the use of deer calls, antler rattles, and scents. Talk to other hunters back in camp, or along the road when stopped for a break, and see if they will open up, and be sure to open up to them. Nobody is going to get “YOUR” deer, share a little, learn a little. We can all do better if we help each other. When you get a buck, be sure to gut it quick, and get it field dressed. Meat bees are bad in the state, so you will have to bear with a lot of angry insects. Ticks are bad as well, so be sure to not let the ticks get to your gear, or get on you. The ears and head will probably be full of ticks that will be escaping the deer after it dies. As always, be prepared for dangerous situations. Carry a flashlight in your backpack, along with a large knife on your side. Carry a firearm, when it is legal, to protect yourself from any bobcat, coyote, or most importantly mountain lions. Don’t lose your bearing, it can be easy to get lost in some of the larger hunting areas. I always have a sleeping back in my truck in case I get stuck staying somewhere overnight, and I also keep warm clothes in my backpack, because you do not want to get caught in the cold overnight without a way to keep warm. Keep yourself safe, don’t let unsuccessful years bring you down, and enjoy the memories that you get to take with you and hold you off until next season. If you go on a solo trip, let someone know the general area you are going to, and when you will be back, in case you get yourself in a situation where you may need help. US Forest Service - Eldorado National Forest - Georgetown Ranger Station CA Department of Fish and Wildlife

The main fish planting schedule can be found here.

Stumpy Meadows fish planting schedule is here.

CA Department of Parks and Recreation
Union Valley Reservoir Map
Lunker Hunter Image