Wednesday May 19 2010
Expect full campgrounds for Memorial Day weekend
By: George deVilbiss
The Memorial Day weekend holiday is a major getaway camping weekend for many families. Some go fishing. Some do nothing more than kick back and enjoy the great out of doors and fresh air. With that weekend quickly approaching, boats are being readied and RVs packed and checked out. In light of the tremendous winter we’ve had this year, the camping experience just about everywhere will be great. In fact, because wintertime apparently doesn’t want to fully release its hold, some areas will simply not be available and weather conditions can always be questionable. Many campgrounds allow you to make reservations long in advance, some as many as a year in advance. With most lakes fuller than they have been in a number of years more families are looking at places to go. If you procrastinated and did not make reservations, there are always places to pitch a tent or park the RV. The spaces available may not be the most desirable spots, but there are spaces available. Lower elevation areas are expected to be packed to the brim, especially if the weather is fair. Nearby Camp Far West, where water is flowing over the spillway, should be wall to wall with the designated campsites full along with just about every square inch of freelance camping packed. With Folsom Lake so full, the campsites this year will be closer to the water level than they have been in a while, and they are expected to be full. At Lake Camanche, no overnight camping will be allowed without advanced reservations at either North or South Shores. Depending on the yo-yo conditions in the mountains, some higher elevation campgrounds could be awfully iffy. At French Meadows, for example, the campground hosts are and will be scrambling to get the campgrounds open, but it will totally depend on Mother Nature. Parts of Crystal Basin could be the same. There should be easy access to places like Ice House, and Union Valley should be available, but Loon Lake at the top end is where it could be questionable depending on the weather. Coastal regions will be packed, places like Dillon’s Beach and Bodega Bay but there are areas along the coast with gorgeous views of the ocean that provide no services such as water or sewer. EAGLE LAKE Memorial Day holiday is also the opening weekend of the ever popular activity of fishing for Lassen County’s Eagle Lake. Because of that, it is extremely well attended by anglers hoping to tag into one of the big Eagle Lake rainbows. And while the opening is very well attended, there is plenty of room for everybody. What must be remembered is that Eagle Lake is the second largest natural lake in the state, second only to Clear Lake. For the most part, Eagle Lake is strictly a boating lake. You can find an occasional person fishing from shore and depending where you sit up on shore there are a couple of places where shore slingers can do just as well as a boater. Trolling is the most popular method, hauling a treaded-on night crawler without any hardware in front of it. A variety of lures will work and the only lure I will haul is a Red Dog made by Sure Catch. It’s a tremendous lure and we’ve had as many as three trout on at one time, all on the Red Dog. It’s a lake where you really need to watch your fish finder and depth. It’s not a deep lake. I use lead core but only let out no more than two colors. I use downriggers but I don’t go deep. For those without a boat, you can always see anglers out on float tubes around the tulles where hanging a crawler under a bobber works great where the trout prowl around the tulles. Out in front of the airport at Spalding Tract is a popular region for anchoring a boat or float tubes as are the large tulle patches found just west of the boat docks at Spalding Tract around where Pine Creek enters the lake. Some of the best shore fishing can be done from the rocky areas along the narrows at the Youth Camp. Some take RVs in there and camp while others go in just for the day of fishing. To be successful, you simply suspend a night crawler under a bobber just out far enough to fish the drop-off. Trout are constantly cruising this area and success can be tremendous. Aside from people trolling the region, boats will also be anchored as well, all fishing under a bobber. There is a lot of camping opportunity and spaces at the far southern end of the lake. The center part of the lake – Spalding Tract – has one campground, and there are camping opportunities at Stones Landing at the far northern end. Plus, a great many people save camping cost by freelance camping and there unlimited areas all around the lake where you can just pull over, usually right near the water, and set up camp. While you can launch at real launch ramps, such as the big launching area at Spaulding Tract, most just dump their boat trailers in the water along the shore. If you are going to go to Eagle Lake this year, returning or for the first time, I just need to remind you that due to illness, George and Rudy Walker will not be opening Eagle Lake General Store in Spaulding this year. George tells me they probably won’t make it there until late June or even early July. With the store being closed, some emergency supplies can be purchased at the nearby RV park but they certainly don’t carry as much as the General Store. The General Store’s gas and propane pumps will also be down. Lastly, with the store’s closure, there will be a shortage of docks as their docks will also not be in the water and available. Other docks are available but look for a great deal of competition for the open spots. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact George directly at GeorgesColumn@AOL.COM.