Directions: From Lee Vining, go 10 miles on Hwy 120 to Yosemite. Take the
Saddlebag Road 2 miles to the lake.
The 325 acre
Saddlebag Lake sits at 10,000 feet elevation and can be directly reached by car. The lake was created by the construction of a rock-filled dam in 1921. A resort with a
water taxi service can take you to the far side of the lake with access to the Twenty Lakes Basin trail for $9.00 round trip.
The taxi operates from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm. DFG plants about 29,000 rainbow stockers annually in the 10-12 inch class. There are no spawning areas within the inlet streams, so there
is a lack of any wild trout or holdovers reaching sizes over 12". Brook Trout are also present in sizes 6-9 inches. The best areas to fish are the inlet at the West end
of the lake or at the dam. These areas are best fished by float tube. Since fishing at Saddleback Lake is mostly hatchery rainbows,
taking the Basin Lake loop is where the flyfishing
can be fun. The season is the last Saturday of April to November 15th. However, the road usually is closed due to snow from late October to the end of May.
The entire loop is about 8 miles starting at:
Hummingbird Lake( 4 acres) with Brookies and proceeding to Odell and Helen Lake. Most of the fish
are Brookies and Goldens,averaging about 9 inches.
Odell Lake holds the largest Goldens up to 16 inches. Your best bet is to bring a Float Tube when
going to Odell Lake and hike the 3/4 miles from the water taxi to the lake. The larger Goldens will go
for #10 Woolly Buggers and Matukus.
Helen Lake (12 acres) is at 10,100. It's about a 1 hour hike from the loop trailhead. Now, fishless due to cessation of air drops.
Shamrock Lake(17 acres) is at 10,255' and contains Brookies, Rainbows, and Goldens.
Going off-trail from Shamrock you can reach:
Twin Lakes following the creek outlet on the western shore of Shamrock. Twin contains Brookies
at an elevation of 10,400 feet.
Steelhead Lake(25 acres) is a 1.5 hour walk from Saddlebag Lake at 10,400' with Rainbows and
Brookies in the 8-10 inch class.
Cascade Lake(11 acres) is at 10,400' and contains Golden Trout and Brookies.
Wasco Lake contains brookies and is at 10,100 feet.
Going off-trail west of Wasco, you can reach:
Z Lake, which also contains brookies at an elevation of 10,480 feet.
The three Conness Lakes(10 acres each) are at 10,750' and all have Goldens.
Greenstone Lake(25 acres) is at 10,120' with Goldens.
The prime time to visit this area is from August to late September.