Navigating Tranquil Depths: A Comprehensive Guide to Fishing at Union Valley Reservoir

Union Valley Reservoir, cradled within the majestic Eldorado National Forest, stands as a haven for discerning anglers seeking diverse trout species. Spanning 2,890 surface acres, this pristine reservoir boasts an abundant aquatic tapestry, including rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee salmon, and the elusive Mackinaw trout.

Types of Fish You Can Expect to Catch Here

  1. Rainbow Trout: Abundant in Union Valley Reservoir, rainbow trout, ranging from 12 to 18 inches, thrive in the cool, oxygenated waters, displaying vibrant coloration.
  2. Brown Trout: Known for their fighting spirit, brown trout in the reservoir are larger than rainbow trout, often reaching 20 inches or more, with a mottled coloration blending seamlessly with the rocky bottom.
  3. Kokanee Salmon: Prized for their delicate flavor and firm texture, kokanee salmon, also known as “silvers,” grace the reservoir during the spring and summer months, ranging from 12 to 16 inches.
  4. Mackinaw Trout: The largest trout species in Union Valley Reservoir, Mackinaw trout, or lake trout, can grow to impressive sizes, often exceeding 30 pounds. They are most active in the deeper, colder waters of the lake.

A Glimpse into the History of Union Valley Reservoir

Nestled within the Crystal Basin Recreation Area, Union Valley Reservoir’s origins are intertwined with a granite Sierra ridge, resembling crystal when adorned with frozen snow. At an elevation of 4,900 feet, this reservoir, near Ice House Reservoir to the south and Loon Lake to the north, captivates anglers with its rich history and diverse fishing opportunities.

Top 5 Tips for First-Time Anglers

  • Seasonal Awareness: Plan your fishing trip during the spring and summer months when fish are most active. However, Union Valley Reservoir remains ice-free for most of the year, allowing year-round angling.
  • Appropriate Licensing: Ensure you possess a valid California fishing license before embarking on your fishing expedition. Compliance with fishing regulations is crucial for a seamless experience.
  • Versatile Gear: Equip yourself with a versatile rod, reel, and line suitable for various trout species. Bring a selection of lures, baits, and flies for a dynamic and rewarding fishing experience.
  • Strategic Fishing Spots: Explore diverse fishing spots, including the boat ramp, dam, and inlets/outlets, offering different opportunities to catch trout. Trolling, bait fishing, and fly fishing are effective techniques.
  • Weather Preparedness: Given the varying weather conditions based on elevation and season, check the forecast before your trip and dress accordingly. Layered clothing, sunscreen, and ample water are essential.

Top 5 Strategies and Tactics for Optimal Fishing

  • Trolling Techniques: Embrace trolling as a popular method, especially using silver blades and crawlers. Trolling near underwater structures with big Rapalas or jigging the bottom with Hopkins Spoons is effective for Mackinaw trout.
  • Bait Fishing: Utilize bait fishing with worms, nightcrawlers, and PowerBait, particularly when targeting rainbow trout. Experiment with depths and locations for optimal results.
  • Fly Fishing Mastery: Engage in the art of fly fishing with wooly buggers, nymphs, and streamers. These flies prove effective in the clear alpine waters of Union Valley Reservoir.
  • Strategic Schooling: Given the cyclical nature of kokanee salmon at Union Valley Reservoir, locate schools for enhanced trolling opportunities. Switch to Mackinaw methods beneath the kokanee for a chance at larger lake trout.
  • Smallmouth Bass Challenge: Uncover the secret fish of Union Valley Reservoir—smallmouth bass. Although few big ones are caught, employ finesse with 4-pound test line and small, hand-poured four-inch worms to entice them.

Top 5 Recommendations for Fishing Gear

  • Medium-Action Rods: Equip yourself with a medium-action rod, versatile enough to handle various trout species thriving in Union Valley Reservoir.
  • Smooth Drag Reels: Opt for reels featuring smooth drag systems, crucial for managing the vigorous fight put up by brown trout and other challenging catches.
  • Diverse Lures and Baits: Pack a selection of lures, including big Rapalas, Hopkins Spoons, and silver blades for trolling. Experiment with baits like worms, nightcrawlers, and PowerBait.
  • Fly Fishing Essentials: For fly fishing enthusiasts, ensure your gear includes wooly buggers, nymphs, and streamers. These flies provide a dynamic and engaging approach to angling in clear alpine waters.
  • Explore Our Gearlist: Enhance your fishing experience by exploring our Gearlist account, offering precise gear recommendations tailored to Union Valley Reservoir. Ensure optimal preparation for a successful angling expedition.

Check out our Gearlist for the gear we for trips like this

Our Gearlist account lists all of the gear we use. Discover our top picks, where to snag them, and stay informed with our regular updates.

Embark on a journey into the depths of Union Valley Reservoir, where the tranquility of nature converges with the thrill of diverse trout fishing. Historical insights, strategic tips, and comprehensive gear recommendations make this guide your compass for a fulfilling fishing experience. As you cast your line into the pristine waters, may Union Valley Reservoir unveil its secrets, and may your angling adventure be etched into the tapestry of this alpine haven.