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

LOW WATER RAMP AT GALLATIN:   The low water ramp at Gallatin is doing great & no worse for wear.  There’s about 6-7ft of water at the end of the dock.   Be sure to have your bumpers out but there is some protection along the edge and it’s holding up better than we expected.  Good to Go!! No problem, nice dock & good for the duration of the season.   Be careful on the step-down portion.  They can catch your bumpers but easily avoidable.  Cement is adequate for the whole season.  NOTE:  In the dark of the morning, turn your headlights off or use parking lights when backing down the ramp.  Headlights blind everyone else waiting to launch or walking down the ramp to their boats.  IF UNLOADING gear for a rental or boat, be sure to stay to the left where there is a  slight turn out.  Doing so allows big rigs enough room to turn around to launch or load their boats.  It’s all about keeping things moving. Kayaks, stand-ups (paddle boards) and such have just as much right to use the ramp as other boats. I just advise to move them off to the side so boats can still get in while you’re getting everything ready to go out.  There is not a parking place to leave your vehicle on the ramp.  I can guarantee that if you do, it won’t be there when you get back.  Parking is up in the parking lot.  This single lane ramp is not the place to unsecure or secure your boat or to stop and load gear. Boats are coming in and going out.  Quite often there is a wait either way.  One person can screw things up for everyone.

There have been times that people are using the ramp area for swimming.  No it’s not a good idea to do so as this is a launch ramp, not a swimming hole.  Just be careful coming in and look for swimmers or those just taking a dunk to cool off.  The local beaches aren’t real nice for swimming due to low lake levels, muddy bottoms and shoreline grass & tules.  Let’s just enjoy what we have left no matter where it may be and let others do their thing, Pikes Pt is fine for swimming away from the ramp, keep the ramp open for the boats.  Christie Day Use point and gravel bar are also cleaner water.  Wear water shoes anywhere, there can be glass, old rusty cans and old hooks.  When the water was low in 2015 we did what we could to clean up the beaches and old lake bottom.  However, the wave action continued to keep exposing old rusty metal so it was hard to keep up with.  Just be careful and smart.  This lake has been around a long time. We did get back in time to 1955 garbage.

Not very handicap accessible for fishing, parking or getting down to the dock so wheeler’s might need some assistance.  Note that this is not a fishing dock, however, handicap folks have no other options so when we have some folks in wheel chairs fishing there we try to do our best to get in and out as fast as possible. 
WARNING: Gallatin Road from the last left bend past Eagle Campground entrance to the marina has nasty humps and bumps on both sides of the roadway that you can’t see unless you know where to be looking.  Guessing that roots from the pine tree’s have uplifted the pavement over the years and has not been repaired going on at least 10years and only getting worse.  Goes for a little over 100ft and it’s 100ft of hell for towing anything.  Slow down. These are not marked or indicated by any signage (if you look hard you’ll see some flagging on the trees beside the road).  If you hit these bad spots at the speed limit of 35mph towing a boat you will get a very big surprise.  Folks have lost boats off trailers, motors off transoms, motor cowlings, gear, downriggers and it can also stress damage your boat trailer if moving too fast.  We have seen ice chests, floor jacks, chains, tools/boxes, trolling motors, nets, rods and all sorts of things along side of the road.  If the owner doesn’t discover they are missing, we return things to and notify the marina folks just in case.  My buddy lost his boat and trailer off his hitch by a big bounce, thankfully his chains kept the boat/trailer with his truck but dented his tailgate. Just take it slow in the straight stretch from the last left bend in the road to the Marina and you’ll do ok but make sure your boat is secured front and back to the trailer.  The rest of the road to the marina and to the ramp also has some issues so it’s best just to take it slow from that point on to the ramp.  The trench at the gas pump has been filled in so that dip has been removed but the turn from the main road in to the low water ramp has a good bump. 
SPALDING SOUTH RAMP:  There’s now less than 2ft of water at the end of the cement.  I don’t advise it for larger boats. Channel is much shallower now than it was opening weekend.  Still a handful of folks putting in but most are already going south & that’s where the fish are.  Jet boats can make it so far.  Although I really don’t advise this launch right now, some folks are managing.  Note that my 115 Yamaha drafts 31″ and 5.8/gal per hour at 4500 rpms it’s a guzzle getting south and easily a 5-6 gallon trip to the fish right now.  Gauge your fuel usage make/model here.  Larger motors should trim up.  I/O units definitely trim up (although I wouldn’t advise I/O units at all).   Stay centered with the center-line of the dock & you’ll be in the channel.  On either side it shallows up before it gets deeper.  4-5ft of water towards Rocky Pt and deepens up to 9-11ft deep north of Pelican Pt buoy line.   The lake elevation is just about where it was at the middle of August 2017.    See lake conditions page for temps and elevation.
I’m launching my boat down south this season. Why do I launch down south? 1) I save fuel and get where the fish are faster.  2) all it costs me is a little extra time to get there.  3) saves $8 and 5+ gallons/per hour of boat fuel vs 2 gallons round trip in my truck and quarts in my boat. 4) I don’t have to run my motor trimmed up to get through the channel from the ramp to the lake in heavy winds with lesser control or have to pull the weeds off my prop and out of my water pump intake ports every in and out and I don’t have to worry about sucking in grit into my water lines which build up over time and can cause costly damage.  I can run up to Pelican from the south ramp just about as fast as I can from Spalding (3.1 NM from Spalding).  Once we have more water in the lake, I will launch in Spalding again in the future, but personally, I want another 3 to 5 ft of water before it will be worth it for fishing as well as stirring up the muck and methane.   It’s not about floating the boat off the trailer, it’s about repairs after daily usage, weeds, silt and wear and tear through the channel.  Take offs in shallower water that stirs up the grit on the lake bottom (as well as releasing a lot of trapped methane) and dealing with all the other boats stirring up the yuck.  I don’t have people paying me to deal with damage over time anymore, so I take better care of my equipment so I don’t have the down time or expensive repairs.  Jet boats will do better for a while over the prop drives.  Since I don’t worry about getting out and fishing at the first legal minute of the fishing day, I can take that extra time to tow my boat to the south end. I rarely have to wait in line more than a few minutes.  I replace my water pumps every two years anyway due to the sand, silt, shrimp, snails, algae and various other critters that are normally in this lake.  The impellers are pretty much due for replacement by then.  Of course, I only really run my boat in this lake so it can take it’s toll over time, but I don’t have any down time either.  We have all new tules that migrated and reseeded in 2017 at the lower lake elevation of 2015/2016.  So when we do get water back in the lake, it will be a whole new ball game!  But this years elevation has still not reached the old tule line off the airstrip.  LoL. 
STONES LANDING:  Nope.  Kayaks can launch just about anywhere off the beach near the ramp, but boats won’t be getting in. We will still see some soft bottom along the lake shore so be prepared.  Less water this year than last year so even private gravel bars may have some problems.  I see no reason since the fish haven’t been imprinted up north for many years and the drought dried up most of the north basin.  But, I am sure, like last year, folks will try and fish it before they contact me and ask where the fish are. 

ROCKY POINT:  East side BLM.  Small car-top boats might make it.  Kayaks can make it.  Being that we have a lower lake elevation than last year, I expect it will be a tough launch for any boat on a trailer.  But the primitive campground is generally nice and quiet. Pretty place.   No water or garbage service so pack it in and out.  There is one pit (vault) toilet. No handicap accessibility.  West side: Weeds and tules but a car topper could probably get in further down the point where the road ends. Water is pretty warm for fishing at this time.

KAYAKS AND FLOAT TUBES:  Can launch several places. Getting down to the lake isn’t the hard part, getting back up is.  However, the muddy shores along Merrill, West Eagle Group Camp, Eagle Campground and Aspen Campground are tough for tubers.  Find a firmer gravel bar. Off Aspen’s high and dry ramp it is soft, but it firms up near the rock pile to the east & it isn’t that far to walk down a kayak on wheels once you are down there.  It’s more sand and decomposed granite off Camp Ronald McD and towards The Springs.  Eagle’s Nest is also a good launch with firm bottom but Gallatin Road is a mess to get there.  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.  Off Christie its better for tubes to launch to the west towards the point and gravel bar.  Kayaks can pull themselves out and in down from the parking lot.  Wildcat Pt south road is closed until the USFS is finished assessing the hazards.  It has been used as a fire break.   Once it opens, high clearance vehicle recommended.  North road is also closed for a while. Is 45 minutes and is generally in better shape.  Also, fire activity area.  Osprey Management and Wildlife Area also closed for access at this time. On the southern end it begins just north of Wildcat and at the north end begins close to the end of The Strand.  Walk in access is closed until Sept 15th and will also depend on USFS.  I recommend 4X4 when these accesses reopen for traffic. We still have a lot of new tule’s and marsh grasses in the water near the shore.  The fire burned hot through the lava beds but didn’t burn much below the tree line.  Most of the shoreline fared well throughout the fire.   The Youth Camp should have some fish moving in in a few weeks.   Good gravel bars, deeper holes and good water. Should be great this fall.  Rocky Pt will be ok for tubes and kayaks but the fish might be a lot further away than you think until fall rolls around and chances increase. The gravel point north of the airstrip in Spalding is firmer too.  Just might not be many of fish up here until fall…last fall they didn’t go too far above Peli.  The summer heat is here.

NOTE:  Making it easier is the main goal here.  Launching at the ramp leaves one with a limited area to fish.  Our only kayak launching availability at this time is the low water ramp, Christie Day Use, Circus Grounds (steep), Aspen and Gallatin Beach.  Getting down to the lake near Camp Ronald McDonald is quite a chore…not so much getting down, but getting back up.  Kayak: I use a 25ft long rope strung through my wheel frame on both sides which I thread through my grab handle from opposite sides and can put over my shoulders.  This allows me to use my 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.  I looped one side 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 (I put the bow in the water, back on land), use your broken down paddle as crutches and 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 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.  Several panels are missing…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 OR swimming so we try to do our best at getting our boats in and out and we know they have no other choice and I would rather see them trying to fish than not fishing at all.  The responsibility for maintaining previously established accesses lies solely with the USFS, not the marina concessionaires who are wonderful folks.
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 ©Valerie Aubrey, 2018 EagleLakeFishing.net