Clear Lake is the largest natural lake within the boundaries of California, some one hundred miles around, and once of the most highly regarded fishing lakes in the country. Fishing tournaments draw many participants. On the extended holiday weekends in the summer, the lake draws hundreds of visitors to Clear Lake and Lake County. The tourists enjoy fishing and boating on the lake and picnics in our parks. Without question the primary attraction for visitors is the outstanding fishing on Clear Lake, but there are several other reasons thousands of people visit the lake.
One reason is the outstanding public parks and boat launching ramps that are located around the lake. No other major lake in California has the quality or number of ramps that Clear Lake has. And the best part, with one exception, is they are all free. For example, it costs from $20 to $30 to launch a boat at nearby Lake Berryesa and the fishing isn’t nearly as good.
The cities of Lakeport and Clearlake, the county and the state operate a total of seven major public boat ramps and parks that are on the water. The result is there are ramps and parking areas at just about every location around the lake.
Library Park in Lakeport has two improved ramps as well as an excellent lakeside park. Along with the ramps there are docks and a huge parking area for boat trailers. The park is one of the cleanest on the lake and draws thousands of tourists each summer.
Lakeside County Park is located off Soda Bay Road south of Lakeport. This has become one of the more popular launching areas on the lake. On any given weekend the parking lot at the ramp is jammed with boat trailers. The ramp itself is excellent. This is another park that’s kept extremely clean and safe. The best part is that the park and ramp are located in some of the best bass fishing areas on the lake. There is also excellent crappie, bluegill and catfish fishing from the parks’ shoreline. The park also has an excellent picnic area where you can view all kinds of bird life.
The next park is Clear Lake State Park. Unlike the county and city parks, you have to pay a launching and day use fee at the state park. The park offers an excellent boat ramp, picnic area and campground as well as several hiking trails. This park is also kept very clean and the fishing is excellent. It is also a safe place to hike or picnic. In fact, the state park was rated the fifth best in the nation and No. 1 in the West.
Redbud Park in Clearlake has one of the best launching facilities on the lake. The ramp is huge and six boats can be launched at one time. The boat trailer parking lot is the largest on the lake.
The county park and launching ramp at Clearlake Oaks is rather small but centrally located for fishermen who want to fish the area around Rattlesnake Island and the Clearlake Oaks Keys.
The county park at Lucerne is popular among fishermen who want fish the Lucerne-Nice shoreline. The ramp is protected from the wind by a breakwater and has ample parking and rest rooms. The fishing is very good off the breakwater wall.
There is a small ramp and park in Nice. The ramp is best suited for small boats. The park is a great place to have a picnic.
In addition to the public ramps, a number of resorts offer boat ramps where boats can be launched for a small fee.
The many launching areas around the lake make it ideal for small boaters who don’t want to battle the wind and waves to reach their favorite fishing areas. All they need to do is trailer their boat to the ramp that’s nearest their favorite fishing area. The other major factor is that all the parks and ramps around the lake are kept in excellent condition, which is a credit to our local park personnel. Despite the efforts of park personnel there are a few thoughtless people who litter in the parks. I saw this on Monday at Lakeside County Park where someone left a pile of trash on the docks.
PHOTO BY RON KEAS
As mentioned earlier, the best part of fishing Clear Lake is you don’t have to pay a launching fee. All the other lakes in Northern California (both large and small) generally charge a launching and day use fee. In the past there have been suggestions that the county and cities charge a launching fee, but so far they’ve all been rejected. Hopefully this policy will continue.
We have one of the best fishing lakes in the West and it’s all free. We also have plenty of wineries where you can relax and sip some of Lake County’s finest wines. You can’t beat that.
Article by Terry Knight, courtesy of Lake County Record-Bee,
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Clear Lake State Park is a Lake County Jewel
Clear Lake State Park is among Lake County’s tourist destinations
With the warm summer months and the Memorial Day Weekend just around the corner, many people are planning their vacations. Clear Lake in Lake County is one of the top tourist attractions in the state. The lake offers some of the best bass, catfish and crappie fishing around. One of the more popular destinations for the tourists is Clear Lake State Park, located just outside of Kelseyville.
The 565-acre park was founded in 1948 when Fred and Nellie Dorn donated 330 acres to the state to be used as a park. Down through the years bits and pieces were added to bring it up to its present size. The park is extremely popular with boaters, fishermen, hikers and campers. It has four developed campgrounds with a total of 147 sites. The park also has cabins, which can be rented. There is also a modern boat ramp as well as a visitor center.
During the summer months the campgrounds are normally filled seven days a week. There are also several hiking trails throughout the park where all types of wildlife can be observed. Deer, bear, wild turkeys, ducks and even the occasional mountain lion have been spotted within the confines of the park.
The park has something for everyone, from excellent fishing, boating opportunities, a swimming beach, campgrounds and excellent hiking trails. In fact, this year the excellent crappie fishing has drawn thousands of fishermen. The park also has a visitor center where experts on wildlife give free talks to the public. The swimming beach draws dozens of people during the hot summer days. The park offers a boat launch for day use and campers. Boat slips with a locked marina are available for registered campers.
The best part of the hiking trails is that you get to see all sorts of wildlife. There are
hundreds of species of wild birds and animals. In fact, a few years ago a fisherman reported a mountain lion walked right up to his truck, which was parked by the boat ramp, and sniffed the tires before meandering back into the woods. There is also a large osprey nest on a power pole near the visitor center. The osprey family is popular with wildlife photographers. The visitor center itself is worth a trip. It features all types of displays, including a large aquarium displaying some of the lake’s species of fish.
According the park supervisor Darin Conner, “One of the things I value most about working at Clear Lake State Park and Anderson Marsh State Historic Park is that I really get to engage all aspects of our mission. People come from all over the world to visit these parks. Interacting with them I hear so many of them express their appreciation for all that we have here. Truly these are special places.”
The park is known for the friendliness of its personnel. Park employees always have a smile and greeting for everyone. The park in extremely clean. I haven’t seen as much as a gum wrapper on the ground at the park where attendants are always cleaning up leaves and other debris.
The park is a popular spot for women who like to hike. They don’t have to worry about being hassled and they feel safe. Camping is popular because the campgrounds are clean and park rangers regularly patrol the area.
There are fees to use the park. A day use fee is $10 per vehicle and it costs $10 to launch a boat. There are also camping fees. For local residents the best bet is top purchase an annual day use pass, which allows you unlimited use of the park during the daytime.
Lake County is fortunate to have Clear Lake State Park and it will always remain one of our most cherished treasures
Article by Terry Knight, courtesy of Lake County Record-Bee, 5/22/19
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Sight Seeing Opportunities
Not everyone who visits Clear Lake is a tournament bass fisherman. There are hundreds of tourists who come each year to experience the beauty of the lake and the abundant bird and other wildlife. Many of the visitors are senior citizens who are retired. In addition, there are hundreds of senior citizens who call Lake County home.
Whereas many senior citizens may not be physically able to hike miles into the back country as their younger counterparts, there are still many places where one can view a variety of wild birds, deer and other animals such as otters and squirrels.
For those who enjoy watching the graceful white pelican soaring above Clear Lake or the colorful western grebe doing its mating dance, then the best method of seeing these incredible birds is by boat. Many seniors own their own boat but for those who don’t have access to one, a patio boat can be rented from Disney’s Water Sports in Lakeport. The patio boats are very easy to operate and offer a stable platform to view birds and wildlife while relaxing. Call 707-263-0969 for more information.
Another option is to book a trip with The Eyes of the Wild tour agency. The pontoon boat seats up to 10 people and the guide is Faith Rigolosi. She is an experienced outdoor guide and her trips offer an excellent chance to view the abundant bird life up close. The tour agency has received a five-star rating from its customers. Call 707-262-2401 or 707-349-0026.
An excellent viewing area for the boater is Rodman Slough, located at the north end of the lake. This area is teeming with wildlife and includes deer, otters, wild turkeys, eagles, grebes and seagulls.
In the south end of the lake, Redbud Park in Clearlake can be a jumping off spot for the boater. One of the more popular areas is Cache Creek near Anderson Marsh. A trip down Cache Creek reveals dozens of different species of bird life plus deer and otters.
For the hiker, Lake County has miles of trails where you can observe birds and other wildlife. Actually hiking (or walking) is one of the best exercises for seniors. Not only does it keep your strength up, it’s an excellent way to see nature.
One of the best hiking areas is the Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, located on Soda Bay Road. The park has several hiking trails offering easy access and it won’t challenge the hiker. The park also offers an excellent opportunity to view birds and other wildlife. The park is home to a wide variety of birds such as ospreys, hawks, pelicans, ducks, wild turkeys andeven bald and golden eagles. There are also deer and otters. Last year the park was recognized as the fifth best state park in the nation and No.
1 in the West. The park offers excellent security for hikers. If you would rather drive than boat or walk, an auto trip along the lake offers an excellent chance to view birds. Highway 20 from Nice to Clearlake Oaks has several turnouts where you can see birds and view the lake. There are also several parks where you can stop for lunch and refreshments, During the fall months, an auto trip to Lake Pillsbury provides an excellent opportunity to view wildlife. The road to the lake is gravel but can accommodate standard passenger cars. At the lake itself there is a large resident herd of tule elk. The elk normally stay at the north end of the lake by the old airfield. To reach Lake Pillsbury, take Highway 20 west to the Potter Valley turnoff. Follow the signs to the lake. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Upper Lake.
An excellent option is to join the Redbud Audubon Society. The organization offers birds tours around the lake. You will be surprised about the number of species of wild birds that live in Lake County. Call 263-8030 for meeting locations and times.
Items that you should carry when driving, boating or hiking in Lake County
are water, a snack, a camera, a pair of binoculars and a cell phone. Always tell someone where you will be going and when you will return.
Tourists travel hundreds of miles just to visit beautiful Lake County and we are privileged to have all this right here in our backyard.
Article by Terry Knight, courtesy of Lake County Record-Bee, 9/12/18
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