June 8, 2010 — Memorial Day weekend means the opening of the trophy trout-fishing season at Eagle Lake near Susanville, and despite disturbing low water levels the fish are biting, and boats can be launched at the Eagle Lake Marina.
Grace McCullough, manager of the Eagle Lake Marina, said all 36 slips at the marina were full during the long holiday weekend and at times more than 20 boats were in the parking lot waiting to be launched.
She said the marina recommends launching boats that are shorter than 18 feet in length, “but I saw boats of every size go in, including a 26-foot tri-pontoon over the weekend. We recommend against trying to launch direct-drive or deep-hulled boats, but I saw them go in, too. Every type of boat I had concerns about, I saw them going in the lake,” McCullough said.
Fisherman Brian Salego, of Loyalton, said he had no problem launching his fishing boat, and he also saw some pretty big boats going into the water at the marina. But it’s all about the fishing.
“The fishing is great,” Salego said as he gathered some supplies at the marina store. “We got our limit four days in a row, including a few 3-pounders. Despite the low water, the fish look pretty healthy. All and all, the fishing’s really good.”
Fishermen can hit the lake at 4:30 a.m., one hour before sunrise, McCullough said, and when they come back in at 6:30 a.m. with their daily limit, she said she knows the fishing’s good.
McCullough also said she’s concerned by reports, including a caption published in last week’s issue of the newspaper, saying boats can’t be launched at the marina due to low water. Many government officials, a fishing Web sites with a great reputation and even some local residents incorrectly claim the boat ramp at the marina is closed due to low water and boats can’t be launched there.
“There’s been a rumor about the boat ramp being closed for two years,” McCullough said, “but it’s not true. We’re still launching boats. It’s very frustrating.”
In fact, McCullough said she saw boats still using the ramp last year when the marina store closed on Nov. 1. She acknowledged the water level was really low then, the boats were pretty small and the lake was near its lowest level of the year.
Because the boat ramp at the marina is open to the public with no fee, McCullough said she calls it, “The people’s ramp.”
The low water has caused some issues, McCullough said, and her husband Scott McCullough, a campground manager at the lake, had to make some modifications to make the system work.
Last July, Scott rearranged part of the dock and moved some of the slips into deeper water near the jetty. Now boat owners have to “walk” their boats by hand along the dock, pulling them through the shallow water until it’s deep enough to drop and start their motors.
“The ramp’s below design level for the way it’s engineered,” Scott said, “but we’re making it work. We may have to put some paving stones at the bottom of the ramp if it becomes a hole. We need to keep the trailers from falling into a hole, but currently that’s not an issue. The water’s only 16 to 20 inches deep at the shallowest point, and a 23-foot cabin cruiser made it out,” over the holiday weekend, Scott said.
A cool June last year helped keep the water level up, Scott said, and he’s hoping for another cool June this year. He said the cool weather keeps evaporation at a minimum.
“On warm, sunny windy days, you can almost measure how the lake drops,” Scott said.
Grace said Eagle Lake enjoys many visitors who have come here to vacation for generations.
“We have people and families who have been coming up here for 40 years,” Grace said. “They’ve been very loyal year in and year out. These people come with their families for reunions or group camp outs. They’re wonderful people.”
The marina operates from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, but the hours will increase once summer comes.
The marina is a full-service market that offers boat rentals, fishing equipment rentals, open boat storage, slip rentals, camping supplies, ice, clothing, showers, a laundry, food and beverages as well as propane, gasoline, fishing supplies, lures and fishing licenses. The marina is open from May through October.
“We try to have everything,” Grace said.
Campgrounds reservations in the Eagle Lake Recreation Area, about 16 miles from Susanville, may be made by calling the National Recreation Reservation Service at (877) 444-6777 or online at recreation.gov. Some campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information or current conditions, call the marina at (530) 825-3454.
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