Photo of Hungry Packer Lake,  Inyo County, CA

Hungry Packer Lake Fishing

Sabrina Basin - Inyo County

Photo of Hungry Packer Lake

Hungry Packer Lake

Hungry Packer Lake is tucked up against the eastern Sierra crest in the Sabrina Basin. The beautiful mountain lake deep in the John Muir Wilderness offers exciting fishing for rainbow and brook trout. Your 6.5-mile hike and 2000-foot elevation gain are well rewarded once you arrive at Hungry Packer Lake and discover its breathtaking beauty. Few places in the Sierra can match it.

While Hungry Packer Lake makes a great camping destination, there are numerous other excellent fishing lakes in the vicinity, including Midnight Lake, Moonlight Lake, and Dingleberry Lake. On my most recent trip there in 2010 I heard reports of a 5-pound brown taken from Dingleberry Lake. It's hard to go wrong in the Sabrina Basin. Throughout the Sabrina Basin I found fish in every lake, stream, pond, and puddle I passed.

Making Your Way to Hungry Packer Lake

To reach Hungry Packer Lake from Bishop on Highway 395 in Inyo County, drive west on Highway 168 nineteen miles to Lake Sabrina. Be sure to park before you reach the No Parking signs at the end of the highway. You can park on the shoulder of the highway or in the designated parking area. The trailhead is still about a half mile up the road where there is no overnight parking.

In My Creel

  • #16 tan Elk Hair Caddis
  • #14 Adams Parachute
  • #16 Red Quill
  • #16 Adams
  • #16 gnat
  • #16 Blue Olive Parachute

I was all fly fishing on this trip. I was sure glad I brought a variety of flies because up at Hungry Packer Lake the big rainbows sniffed at my Adams and even my Blue Olive disdainfully. The gnat caught their attention, though. I noticed a lot of grasshoppers around all the lakes in Sabrina Basin. The Blue Olive did well in other lakes.

Photo of Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina

The 6.5-mile trek to Hungry Packer Lake is a strenuous hike because of the steep trail and the high altitude. Lake Sabrina, a popular fishing destination itself, is at an elevation of 9,100 feet. The trail circles the lake, climbing gradually at first and then begins a relentless series of switchbacks up to Blue Lake (about 3 miles). Many hikers make Blue Lake their first night destination. Fishing there is good for rainbow and brook trout. Blue Lake can be crowded at times.

Watch for the sign to turn to Dingleberry Lake about half way down the shore of Blue Lake and follow the trail over several ridges, past the lowest of the Emerald Lakes, and eventually down to Dingleberry Lake (1.5 miles beyond Blue Lake). You could camp at Dingleberry Lake or along the stream above the lake and make Hungry Packer Lake a day hike from there.

From Dingleberry Lake the trail climbs another 2 miles to Hungry Packer Lake. Along the way keep an eye out for the trail sign pointing right to Midnight Lake and left to Hungry Packer Lake. Soon after passing the sign you'll catch sight of Topsy Turvy Lake off to the left of the trail and also a number of smaller lakes, all offering good fishing.

Photo of Dingleberry Lake

Dingleberry Lake

Accommodations and Supplies:

There is one obvious backpacking campsite at Hungry Packer Lake. The trail leads directly to it. You could camp downstream from the lake a short distance where there are a series of smaller lakes. Better campsites are found closer to Dingleberry Lake or over at Midnight Lake. Moonlight Lake, as you can see from the photo below, does not have good camping sites.

Back in the Bishop Creek drainage below Lake Sabrina are several resorts, including Bishop Creek Lodge, Cardinal Village Resort, and Parcher's Resort by South Lake. There are a number of campgrounds all along Bishop Creek: Sabrina Campground, Forks Campground, Bitterbrush Campground, Big Trees Campground, and others. Dispersed camping is not allowed along Bishop Creek.

Photo of Midnight Lake

Midnight Lake

Fishing supplies can be purchased locally at the following places:

Bishop Pack Outfitters

For an extended stay in the Sabrina Basin, consider having yourself packed into a base camp by a local packer. I had a great experience with nearby Bishop Pack Outfitters. They are located a couple miles from the trailhead near North Lake. You can arrange to have them pack your gear into a recommended base camp while you make the trek on foot or you can make the journey on horseback along with the packer.

Owner Mike Morgan and his crew are very knowledgeable about the area and can pack you into great camps you might not find on our own. They can also steer you to some of the best fishing spots in the Sabrina Basin.

Recommended Books for Fishing the Eastern Sierra


All of the lakes mentioned above make good sidetrips from Hungry Packer Lake. The best way to approach Midnight Lake is cross-country from Hungry Packer Lake, traversing around the ridge that separates them. Climbing up to Midnight Lake from below results in a lot of boulder scrambling.

Photo of Moonlight Lake

Moonlight Lake

Worth mentioning are the upper Emerald Lakes. Cross country travel is required to reach them. If you poke around by the lower lakes which you can see from the trail you will find a use-trail that leads up to the upper lakes. Both fishing and camping are good there.

Other Nearby Featured Trips in Inyo County

Also see in Eastern Sierra Fishing Maps: Bishop Creek

High Sierra Trails

A Backpacker's Guide to the
Most Spectacular Trails
in the Sierra Nevada