The Crystal Basin Recreation Area of the Eldorado National Forest is the home of three deep, clear and cold lakes that offer excellent fishing for rainbows and browns as well as kokanee salmon.
Just over 20 miles east of Placerville on Hwy. 50 is the town of Riverton. From here Forest Service Road takes you into the recreation area and all three lakes. Each lake has campgrounds and launch ramps. In the past, community events had contractors who put up bounce houses and water slides to the enjoyment of the weekenders.
These aren’t small lakes either; Union Valley is 2,800 acres and the smallest, Ice House is almost 900 surface acres. All types of boating are allowed, but some say the water is too cold for waterskiing.
But, its just right for the trout at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 6,500 feet. There are over 400 campsites at these three lakes, that are surrounded by pine and fir forests.
Loon Lake CA
Loon Lake CA is one of the most consistent producers of kokanee in the Sierras. They range in size from 8 to 11 inches, and are firm and delicious. Spoons such as the Knobby Wobbler, Kokanee Killer and 1/8 ounce Kastmaster are winners for Union Valley kokanee. Nightcrawlers, both still fished and trolled are a local favorite for rainbows and browns, at all three lakes.