THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED MONTHLY AS CONDITIONS CHANGE. A NEW 2019 PHOTO ALBUM WILL BEGIN SHORTLY AND BE UPDATED WITH PHOTOS EVERY COUPLE WEEKS.
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Current Lake Elevations (scroll down page for current elevations & back to 2010)
LOW WATER RAMP AT GALLATIN: Just because the fishing season is closed doesn’t mean one can’t boat or kayak for fun and enjoyment. We generally get out to play but we NEVER have fishing equipment on board. Not a rod, net or tackle.
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 during the season. 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 it 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 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 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.
©Valerie Aubrey, 2019 EagleLakeFishing.net