Ramp Conditions

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LOW WATER RAMP AT GALLATIN:   Will be functional all 2019 season.  Good to go!  Dock can be frosty or icy early in the morning or after any moisture so be very careful walking down the dock.  It’s fine later once things warm up.  
For those who power load their boats.  Note, over time, the prop or jet wash from power loading (gunning the motor, not just gliding on the trailer) eventually builds up a shoal below the end of the cement.  If you choose to power load, do so on the east side of the ramp and leave the dock side for those doing the right thing.   Generally anyone driving boats off the trailer are using the middle or east side of the ramp but watch out for the big rocks between the ramp and the culvert pipe.  On the ramp side of the dock, leave room for a guy behind you and room in front in case someone ahead of you wants to put in while you get your vehicle to load your boat.  We’ve been doing this for years and waiting for you to get your vehicle doesn’t take long.  We are all patient and willing to wait for whatever.  People are coming and going and we’ve all learned to be patient, your time will come.  Power loading is frowned upon, not only in the CA Boaters Certification Course, but here where our cement is limited and our lake bottom has a lot of sand, fine gravel and silt.  A certified person would know the right and wrong way to do things, however, some may disregard the recommendation.  No parking above the ramp in the three spaces by the tree.  There’s been some trailers hit and damaged this season, no notes left so the best way to prevent the damage was to put pylons out blocking the old parking spots.

SOUTH RAMP AT SPALDING:  See photos.   Some folks are still launching while other folks chose to head to the south end.  I HAD to launch here for water tests due to time sensitivity of samples.  I got in and out the channel trimmed up, however, I really don’t care to pump this water through my motor or suck up the weeds, but I have no choice on test collection day.   

There are still some underwater rock piles north of Pelican Pt channel and between the Youth Camp and Biology Station that could pose a problem for I/O units or deep running props.  These are not clearly marked on maps, however the general locations are shown on Val’s map. Personally, I am still heading south for all my launching for fishing.

NORTH RAMP AT SPALDING: See photos.  Nope. 

ROCKY PT:  Ya have to get past the tules a short way out which have become thicker over time off the gravel ramp.   Water is very brown off Rocky Pt & Buck’s bay now.  Time will tell. 

STONES: Nope, too many thick tules now even for kayaks.  See photos

KAYAKS:  Aspen Ramp a shorter walk to the water this season. Gotta get past the tules and marsh grass but doable.  Just about anywhere off Pike’s Pt is decent for tube launching off gravel.  USFS put the boulders too close together to get a kayak through to the side at the low water ramp so it’s easier just to use the ramp.  Boats may complain, but you have every right to use the ramp when no accessible kayak trail is provided.  If launching your kayak takes time, so be it.  If USFS wants to keep traffic moving, they could push the boulders 3.5ft apart for getting a kayak on a cart thru.  The Circus Grounds also has a good stretch of gravel bar, steeper trek down from the road, gravel and rocks to the water. Eagle’s Nest is a good kayak launch as well as float tubes for access to deeper water, nasty road getting to the Eagle’s Nest turnoff. Christie still a haul but doable if you plan on fishing in the only open slot created by kayaker’s for launching, you can expect to have company.  The best shore fishing isn’t there, it’s off the rocky point to the northwest.  This is a must share location this time of year for tubers and kayak’s.  Wildcat Pt is accessible but if we see some rains, the road in can get soft and being clay in many places they don’t dry out, just end up a mud bog. The Youth Camp is also doable for kayaks, best to take Merrillville Rd from highway 139 (it’s faster from Spalding than daring to take Gallatin Road in and get the crap beat out of your vehicle and yourself, no doubt about it.  Best to have wheels/carts just about anywhere though.  Christie is easy to get down but a climb to get back up to the parking lot.

North basins: Rocky Pt gravel ramp has more water but heavy tules now.  Ok for kayaks and some small boats might get in but you still have to get past the tule line.  2 Vault toilets at Rocky Pt.  Primitive camping sites.  No garbage removal so pack it in, pack it out.   Highway 139 water is pretty nasty.  We had a few fish off Stones Landing in spring but take note that by fall, the water will be much shallower, brackish, and cows continue to graze in the lake at 5 dot ranch and BLM.   0.70 ppt salinity in troxel bay, normal 0.50 ppt in the south basin.  5dot doesn’t care about the north basin water quality and appears to be refusing to keep their cows out of the lake water.

I advise all CA boaters to take the CA boat operators test and get certified.  You’ll be amazed at what you don’t know after all the decades you have been boating.  Those of us that have certified sooner than we needed to, we can tell in an instant when one is not. From the way you handle your boat at the dock to how your trailer is hooked up as well as manors on the water such as how close you can come to manual powered float tubes or kayaks on the water.  These are no different that if someone was swimming and just because there might not be enforcement all the time, safety can certainly be an issue.  Do it in your spare time.  Take the course, the mini tests and get it done.  Do not take the test thinking you know everything, unless you have a captains license and at that point you don’t need certified, you are already.  Take the course.  You will need to know about sailing boats, PWC, Kayaks, manual powered float tubes and paddle boats and legal distances from them. Military vessels, buoys at inlets, ocean, distance from swimmers (including manual powered crafts) and much more. Trust me, no matter how long you have operated boats on a lake, you probably won’t pass the test without taking the course.  Gotta pass by no less than 80% correct.  I am not ashamed to say, I learned things that I will never use, but at least I do know them.  Do you?  Personally, regardless of age, knowing what you’re doing with a boat and on the water is a good thing.  Other’s lives depend on it also.  I can’t count the times when boats come too close to my kayak or float tube, turn so their lines are under me and then blame me for running over their lines.  LoL. If someone wants to talk or say Hi, just let me know before coming in too close.  Most people text me and I’m expecting company.  No problem, just don’t come in too close when no notice is given or when a kayak has a fish on.   Anymore, I just keep fishing, ignore the idiots, if they catch my line my braid will win and my scissors are handy to cut their lines when they hang up on my depth finder, yak or my line for being stupid.  LoL.  It really is unbelievable how many people out there on the water crowd not only other boats when there is a lot of open water and few boats but crowd the kayaks too.  One born every minute.

NOTE:  Making it easier is the main goal here.  Launching at the low water ramp leaves one with a limited area to fish.  Christie Day Use, Circus Grounds (steep) & Aspen and the Youth Camp will take a little work, but doable.  Getting down to the lake near Camp Ronald McDonald is quite a chore…not so much getting down, but getting back up anywhere is the challenge.  Kayak: You can use a 25ft long rope strung through the wheel frame on both sides which you can thread through your grab handle from opposite sides and can put over your shoulders.  This allows you to use your body and legs to get the yak up over humps and bumps and inclines rather than just my arm.  Also, note that when putting the yak on the wheels it is critical to have just a little weight forward.  This keeps the yak from tipping backwards all the time, dragging and having to keep pushing down on the bow to stay level on the cart.  Generally the balance point is under the seat but you’ll have to adjust it for your yak and gear weight.  Don’t use bungee cords, use ratchet straps and tightly secure the yak to the wheels.  Bungee’s pop off, stretch and are sloppy when transporting as are simply cinch straps.  Generally your yak pulls off the wheels with bungee’s and the cinches loosen up.  With ratchet straps that doesn’t happen.  Loop one side of the straps so the straps stay with the cart which makes it easier to strap down.  When getting in the water you can get in the yak on land, use your broken down paddle as crutches, use your butt and weight to help push yourself into the water.  Same thing getting back in.  Keeps your feet dry and gives you a stable platform to get in and out. I also have a rope attached to the bow handle with a nice knot and loop in it…just the right length.  This gives me something to pull myself up over my feet to the standing position to get out.  That’s the certified gimp way of doing things & staying dry.   LoL. With little to no handicap accessibility around the lake for fishing we have to improvise and basically cause ourselves a lot of pain just to access fishing opportunities.  And no I don’t really give a hoot about walking on the vegetation, if the USFS wants people to stay off the vegetation they could maintain the dilapidated, damaged accesses or take steps to improve things for evolving fishing techniques. 
NO HANDICAP FISHING OR BEACH ACCESS: Handicap parking at the launch ramp is further away than it was last year and not clearly marked by ADA requirements, cinder gravel for carts and wheelchairs is not compliance to ADA requirements and actually quite difficult to even walk on.  Christie Day Use handicap lake access is a disaster waiting to happen.  Stay off the plastic walkway grate panels that have multiple trip hazards of 1 to 3″ in difference and missing panels and walk on the vegetation to the water and the point as there are fewer hazards and better user made trails.  Better to be safe than doing a face plant right off the bat.  Been there, done that.  It is an accident waiting to happen for just about anyone, handicapped or not.  If chair bound, please have help getting down to use the picnic area.  Several panels are missing, edges and corner of panels turned up 1 to 2+ inches…folks using them to be able to launch yaks and tubes without getting knee deep in the muck.  The guys in wheelchairs can only fish from the courtesy dock at the ramp, they have NO other choice for fishing except the end of the jetty and that’s still tough for getting a fish landed and still very shallow.  The end of the jetty still has several feet of rocks so getting a fish dragged up over the steep rocks isn’t going to be easy for anyone handicapped or mobility impaired. There isn’t any handicap swimming access now so we try to do our best at getting our boats in and out and we know they have no other choice for a dip on a hot summer day and I would rather see them trying to fish and cool off than not fishing or recreating at all.  The responsibility for maintaining previously established accesses lies solely with the USFS to provide ADA access and maintain existing handicap accesses.
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 ©Valerie Aubrey, 2019 EagleLakeFishing.net