Ramp Conditions
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LOW WATER RAMP:   Not going to happen for a while now.  Froze up and ice to the bottom.  Once things warm up a little, it will thaw.  Hopefully before the season ends.  It usually does…but we may have to wait a while.  The road was plowed to Camp Ron McD and to the marina from Gallatin but the ramp has not been plowed since the last storms.  There’s about 6″ of snow/ice on the cement ramp & ice at the bottom.  The access road has a bit more than that, especially in the dip where it drifted.  It could melt out or recede enough in time.    (See photos in ramp album) Now just need the ice layer to break up and blow off.  It can happen in a few minutes or hours….just need the right conditions. 

As a reminder, our ramp(s) have NEVER been maintained for usage in winter in spite of being a USFS/Boating and Waterways ramp…..as well as the ONLY ramp to serve the entire body of water.  So the clearing out of the ramp was a new but a good thing, however, now that the county closed A1 I don’t think we have a chance in getting it maintained again!!  The fishing season closes the last day of February and the lake doesn’t close for usage even if the fishing closes.  Ice can come and go.  Spring is rapidly approaching!! I’m just hoping we get to last years high water mark before evaporation kicks in.  Anything above that will be a bonus.  Little creeks don’t keep up with evaporation when flowing.  Only Pine Creek can deliver enough water to show a rise in the lake & that in itself has to deliver an insane flow over a duration of weeks for a foot of water.  But a freshen up is always welcome.

Minimally we need 2- 3 ft of water to get by at the only ramp next season….We are on our way but a long way to go.  Last season looked good this time of year and then the snow stopped falling.  It’s early, hopefully we’ll get more snow locally.  Rain will be fine, rain on the snow will be fine.  LoL.  We need 24ft of snow in winter to equate to approximately 9-10ft of water rise.  So don’t get your hopes up too high just yet.  We are up to about 65″ of snow total for the season….which means we have about 19ft to go  LoL  (snow amount by the years is tallied up on the weather page chart.

Those thinking dredging will work for next year.  This is filled in on both sides of the dock and to the jetty…it’s a very large circumference.  As we found out in Spalding, dredging a channel doesn’t work in soft lake bottom, it fills in fast from blow over from wind action.  So, IF it were considered, they would have to close the only ramp until the muck settled & job completed.  It would not be a day or two, probably not a week or two job either.  We don’t expect anything to be done about the shoal.  Pretty much, it’s too little, too late.  Pray for water for Eagle Lake.

SPALDING: Not going to be any boats launching out of Spalding until the deluge comes.  Stones needs 2 deluge winters.

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 manners 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 as well as what NOT to do at a launch ramp….that’s what is a real determination of passing the certification test. 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 KAYAKS 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 real ratchet straps (I use silicon pads on my ratchets to protect the kayak) 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 easily on pull buckles.  With ratchet straps that doesn’t happen, but I do check tightness as the straps do stretch over time.  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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