Ramp Conditions

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 Spalding Marina Parking Lot Webcam is up.  However no Apple devices will work.  Special software needs to be downloaded and an account created.  I will not be linking up to it due to privacy concerns and exclusivity and that the majority of my users are Apple devices.  You have to go to Spalding CSD if you want it except for Apple users.

Current Lake Elevations (scroll down page for current elevations & back to 2010)

LOW WATER RAMP AT GALLATIN:   Will be functional all 2019 season.  Good to go!  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.  I have heard people saying that one can not tie up on the ramp side of the dock and get their truck or that anyone getting their truck has to beach their boat in the rocks on shore.  This is incorrect.  You can certainly use the courtesy dock on either side.  Generally anyone driving boats off the trailer are using the middle or east side of the ramp.  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.  However, it not permitted if you tie up to the ramp side of the dock for lunch or walking up to the store, bathrooms or leaving your boat unattended and not loading or unloading. You do not have to beach your boat or tie up in front of the sheriff boat, because someone wants to power load next to the dock while you walk up to get your trailer.   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.  Several years of folks power loading was one of the main reasons Spalding had to be dredged in 2009, and we’re lucky to have 3 ft of water over the hump at this time.
GALLATIN MARINA HARBOR: Nope. But water is at the cement.  See Photos of all ramps in our gallery 2019 ramp album. See Photos of all ramps in our gallery 2019 ramp album.

SOUTH RAMP AT SPALDING:  See photos.  We will see temporary launching at the south ramp this season. Time will tell.  We did see some folks launching, while other folks chose to head to the south end.  The west winds cleared a lot of the algae out the last few days but it depends on the wind direction and heat.  The lake water hasn’t been real clean lately so keep an eye on it.  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. 

NORTH RAMP AT SPALDING: See photos.  Nope. But ok for kayaks. See photos.

ROCKY PT:  See photos.  Small boats may get in, kayaks can.  But ya have to get past the tules a shore way out. 

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

KAYAKS:  Gallatin Beach, Aspen Ramp both a shorter walk to the water this season.  Just about anywhere off Pike’s Pt is decent for tube launching off gravel.  The Circus Grounds also has a good stretch of gravel bar, steeper trek down from the road. Eagle’s Nest is a good kayak launch as well as float tubes. Christie still a haul but doable.  Wildcat Pt is accessible but if we see some rains, the road in can get soft. The Youth Camp is also doable for kayaks.  Best to have wheels/carts just about anywhere though.

North basins: Rocky Pt gravel ramp has more water.  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.   North ramp in Spalding also doable for kayaks to launch as is the gravel bar north of the airstrip.  The area south of the airstrip is also closer to the water than it has been in years, just watch out for the fence line and it can get really muddy. Note that we are not supposed to drive along the shoreline or walk or drive inside the fenced airstrip. 

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?

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.  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.  Generally your yak pulls off the wheels with bungee’s.  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 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 accesses. 
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 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.  LNF refuses to do any repairs or extensions of existing handicap accesses so if you are mobility impaired, take your chances.  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.  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