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TR: Sabrina Basin

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TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:05 pm

My husband and I and our border collie, Lupe, did our annual fishing trip in Sabrina Basin. I had checked this area out last year and this trip was almost identical, but at a slower pace and with less day-hikes.


Day 1 (Sept 6) We drove down and made it to Blue Lake and camped at the east end. I caught two trees and one fish, my husband caught four fish. We did not get into the tent until after dark. Lupe was in seventh heaven because she loves to swim in lakes and sleep between us in the tent.

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Blue Lake - small dot on shore is my husband fishing

Day 2 (Sept 7) we moved up to Moonlight Lake and found a nice campsite at the outlet. Nobody else was camped here. I went down to Topsy Turvy Lake and caught three fairly nice sized fish but let them go because I did not want to haul them back up to camp. Back at camp Lupe and I went to the north end of the lake and fished. Lupe did a good job of rock-hopping; at one point I had to lift her up. She could not resist- had to go swiming. I caught five fish all about pan-sized. My husband fished the other end of the lake and caught four.

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Nice sunrise at Moonlight Lake.


Day 3 (Sept 8) we moved to Midnight Lake. Lupe and I walked up to Hungry Packer to get some morning photos. We arrived at Moonlight about noon and set up on a grassy bench mid lake, well away from the outlet where day-hikers came and went. I walked to the inlet to fish (not much larger fish there) came back and fished just below our campsite. While cleaning the fish, dear husband dropped two in the lake. So I caught two more. Then he dropped my biggest one in the lake when I handed it to him! So I caught another. It was very cold this night- ice in the morning.

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classic photo of Hungry Packer Lake

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Camp at Midnight Lake


Day 4 (Sept 9) we moved to Fishgut Lakes. I was worried about the dog getting up there, but luckily I found the use-trail and it was not a huge problem. We camped at the middle (largest) lake the same spot I camped at last year. I did not get up to Granite Lake last year, so went up there to fish. This is NOT an easy lake to get to! I caught and released two fish- nice healthy fish but it was too much of a chore to keep them fresh and bring back to camp. Then I dropped down to the lowest (very small) lake, and there were only very small fish here. Back to the middle lake, I caught two fairly large fish. Back at camp we cleaned the fish, this time on the grass, so none got dropped back into the lake!

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Sunrise at Midnight Lake

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Granite Lake

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Cleaning fish

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Evening walk to upper Fishgut Lake

Day 5 ( Sept 10) I did a morning hike up to Bottleneck Lake for photos. It was fabulous! Last year I had been at this lake in the afternoon when lighting was poor. We packed up and moved back to Blue Lake, this time camping at the inlet. I did a day-hike up to Baboon Lakes and caught two fish. My husband caught four small fish in Blue Lake. He had had enough fish to eat; Lupe and I ate all the fish.

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Outlet of Bottleneck Lk

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Bottleneck Lake

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Walking past Dingleberry Lake

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Inlet end of Blue Lake

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Caught some fish in upper Baboon Lake

Day 6 we hiked out and drove home. It poured rain as we drove home but our trip's weather was perfect.

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walking out



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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby Jimr » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:26 pm

Nice report and a great place. I have fond memories of Blue Lake. In the early '70's, you could still camp on the island, so we did. We also brought a 3 person inflatable raft and drift fished blue lake for 3 days. A flasher rig with worms. In the'70's, I recall catching rainbow averaging around 12". Last time I fished the place in 2009, I caught only small brookies. Hungry Packer had some nice brookies in 2009, but howling wind made fishing tough.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:21 pm

Nice trip and photos. Quite a range of locations within the basin, too. There are some places that will never get old, no matter how often one returns. I think I need to return...

I haven't been there since 1997 when the objective for me and my wife was the bleakest and least hospitable lake in the basin, which delivered as promised. We camped well below that in more comfortable surroundings at a little lake near Topsy Turvy known as Pee Wee that had big brookies at least as recently as 1983, but whose top end size had fallen to about 11" by 1997. It was on the third day that things went awry when I didn't bother to put the rainfly on when we went to explore Blue Heaven which had the most glowing top end size in the old DFG Anglers Guide, but by 1997 had been overrun with stunted brookies. The thunderstorms moved in faster than we could return to camp and we returned to a flooded tent, so we had to hike out a day early with a soggy pack. Somewhere in all this I started coming down with a cold and really held us up--we reached the car in pitch darkness and would have walked right by it had Judy not called out "Isn't that our car?" That led to unsuccessful attempts to get a room (some festival had everything full in Bishop and Mammoth) and a car camping spot (even Shady Rest in Mammoth was full) before finding a primitive spot somewhere E of Tioga Pass at well past midnight. It goes without saying I need to do a Sabrina Basin trip with a better ending. Your fine trip report really reminded me of that.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:49 pm

I did a trip report last year (late Sept or early Oct 2015) on nearly the same route with a lot more detail. Since that report was out there, I did not put much detail in the report above. I day-hiked to more lakes on last year's trip. If anyone is interested in more detail, search for the old report.

This year I worked hard at finding the use-trail to Fishgut Lakes. Our dog would not have been able to do the rock climbing that I did on my last years route. The use-trail has a LOT of back and forth on the vegetated ledges. There is only one short section where I had to lift the dog up once. She did the entire trip without using her booties and her paws were OK at the end of the trip. That actually surprised me. Previously we have had a lot of paw problems with her.

We caught a few rainbows - one in Blue Lake and one in Granite Lake. Otherwise all were brookies. My husband estimated that he cleaned 45 fish! ( We each released 2-3 fish per day). Minus heads and tails, they were perfect size for my 7-inch frying pan. That would make them mostly about 9-10 inches.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby Jimr » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:15 pm

" My husband estimated that he cleaned 45 fish! "

Maybe that's why he started losing them in the lake?
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby sekihiker » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:22 am

Thanks for the report and the beautiful photos.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:40 am

I've enjoyed that basin too several times and was there just last summer. My favorite base camping spot is out of the way Pee Wee Lake. Amusing that with your husband and Lupe along you had to be content with a semi base camping trip instead of your usual style that tends to involve a lot of mileage with impatience to keep moving along your routes. I hope you actually enjoyed that pace of just having to make short camp location to camp location moves each day with lots of time to enjoy the zone. How aquamarine blue were Moonlight and Topsy Turvy? They tend to become more so late season as the residual glacial silt stream flow from the huge rock glacier dominates.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:38 pm

No base camping- still moved camp every day. The moves were just REALLY short. I like Sabrina because my husband can hang around camp as much as he likes and I still have tons of day hikes I can do. I fished Shoeber Holes last year, and this year I wanted to try Granite Lake (which is a lot harder to get to). I also got a chance to fish Topsy Turvy. That lake is hard to get around with all tha large talus blocks.

Moonlight Lake was a bit milky but not that much. The falls were totally dry. Only a trickle of water was coming out of the outlet.

As for cleaning fish- we have a system- hubby does the knife work and I do the final cleaning and gut disposal - its like a production line! I do all the cooking so that makes up for my easier job during cleaning. Hubby has that syndrome that gives you cold hands- that is why after having his hands in cold water he drops the fish. Every one of our campsites got early shadows so late afternoons were quite cool.

By the way, if you have little kids, the Emerald Lakes are great- easy to get to, tons of easy to catch small fish and campsites without cliffs or other dangerous stuff for kids. The water is relatively shallow and warm in these lakes. Good for little ones to play in. Same wtih Sailor Lake- nice sunny campsites, but these lakes are a bit farther in.
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Re: TR: Sabrina Basin

Postby SSSdave » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:48 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:No base camping- still moved camp every day. The moves were just REALLY short. ...


That is what I refer to as semi base camping and tends to be what I most often do although I may in the same mix camp at same spots a day or three if that is convenient. The main idea is that moves are so short as to be trivial and one can really spend a lot of time every day exploring a zone like you did. Even though I've backpacked into that basin several times over the decades, there are still some fascinating places I've yet to explore like Blue Heaven Lake, up on the huge Powell rock glacier, and the arete east of TopsyTurvy that is the source of all those massive boulders.
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