Ramp Conditions
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LOW WATER RAMP AT GALLATIN:   The dock has been removed from the water at the low water ramp.  Now that some snow has fallen, it can get icy.  12-11-18 photos.  The cement was fine today, but early the gravel getting down can get icy.  At least one person chained up which can be a good idea when trying to climb up loaded.  You can still launch but be prepared.  Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had to chain up to launch or get the boat out of the water and up the hill.  Not so much about any depth of snow as it is ice, mostly before noon.  One of my buddy slid down forward…was able to control it but said “I think I need new seat covers in my truck!”  LoL. I wouldn’t advise fiberglass boats since you’ll have to pull up towards the cement or the rocky shore to drop of the truck person, back out and drive your boat onto the trailer.  Have hip boots or waders and it’s not too difficult until the wind is howling.   There is not a parking place to leave your vehicle on the ramp at any time.  Parking is up in the parking lot, even for those launching kayaks or tubes.  This single lane ramp is not the place to un-secure or secure your boat or to stop and load gear.  Some people still use this ramp until snow plugs up the road down, with or without a dock in the water so let’s leave room for these folks.  I know several that come a long way and if they need to, they dig it out to get launched.  Me?  I have other toys to play with and on till the end of the season!!!!
KAYAKS:  Kayaks can use the ramp.   Aspen old high water ramp (difficult to get through the tall grass & scattered rocks), Christie Day Use (long haul).  Better if there is a little more snow, then you can use your kayak like a sled.  I had wheels on…getting down was easy, getting up wasn’t nearly as easy.  The drive into Wildcat Pt is not good but folks are getting in.  Early it’s been fair, later in the day it’s been muddy on the surface with barely over freezing temps.  6″ of dust turned to mud.  Crusty in AM and soft after noon.  The road is in pretty crappy shape. Logging continues on the north road.  The first rains will probably make it impassible.  Timber is noodled up, ready for chipping.    We can access that area via kayak from Christie by paddle, almost faster than driving in.  Tubers: Don’t get caught in the wind there.  It might only take an hour to paddle from Christie to Wildcat on flat water, but getting back against the wind can take 3 to 4 hours so take heed.  This is not a kayak or float tube friendly lake folks.  It can be done but access is quite limited and difficult.  I’m lucky, I can still paddle and kick against the wind….hope to for the next 10 years, we’ll see!!!  My best advice for tubers is to use Force Fins up here.

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, 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.  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, take the course.  You will need to know about sailing, PWC, Kayaks, 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?

KAYAKS AND FLOAT TUBES:  Can launch several places. Getting down to the lake isn’t the hard part, getting back up is.  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, but tough getting through the tall grass and scattered boulders to get to the lake.  It’s  sand and decomposed granite off Camp Ronald McD and towards The Springs but a long haul.  Eagle’s Nest is also a good launch with firm bottom but Gallatin Road is a mess to get there, is not plowed and once the snow falls, can be dangerous.  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, you don’t have to reach the rock point.  Gravel and firmer bottom starts before that.  Kayaks can pull themselves out and in down from the parking lot.  Osprey Management and Wildlife Area:  No vehicles allowed beyond the border road ….you might get caught, and you might not get caught if you drive in.  Just be prepared to pay the fine which was between $300 and $400.  LNF has been known to put up trail cameras.  I generally launch at the ramp, Christie or Aspen this time of year.  Just make sure you know which way the wind is supposed to blow so you don’t get caught bucking the waves to get back.  If you do in a tube you better have some good force fins.  In a kayak, stay as dry as you can.  I’ve taken waves over the bow of my kayak and fortunately have a little splash well around the cockpit. But that’s when I’m heading in already and have no plans on staying out on the water at that point.

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.  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, 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 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.
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 ©Valerie Aubrey, 2018 EagleLakeFishing.net