Ramp Inspections: Coming to a lake near you?
Invasive species like Quagga and Zebra mussels and New Zealand Mud Snails are spreading at a rapid clip to lakes and streams throughout the West, and because of the threat these non-native critters pose to our water ways, you may soon find launching at your favorite lake more of a logistical hassle than ever before.
Local authorities are taking the threat very seriously, as these invaders are a really bad deal. In short, they are filter feeders which can completely alter entire ecosystems by removing phytoplankton from waterways — the stuff from which all other life begins. Also, they clear up the water, allowing sunlight to penetrate deeper, causing a proliferation of aquatic plants that can change species dominance.
To battle these guys, some lakes have completely banned all outside watercraft, while many others are requiring increasingly thorough inspections before you launch. Take one of my favorite fishing spots for example, Lake Tahoe. There, you have to pay for a complete inspection prior to launch (it was $30 for my little 14-foot skiff).
Once inspected, you get a sticker that must be placed on the port side of the vessel, admidships. The Coast Guard, Sheriff and TRPA boats are all on the lookout for vessels without the stickers and the fines are steep!
Next, you get a little numbered tag on a cable that’s strung through your bow eye, winch strap eye and around your trailer. If this thing is in tact, you’re free to launch…if not, it’s back to the inspection station.
Obviously, you have to pop this baby off to get the boat off the trailer. When you get back to the ramp, the inspectors will attach another one. It’s really not all that big of a deal…and if it helps contain the spread of invasive species, I’m all for it. The problem for anglers with this whole situation is it has forced all launch ramps and marinas around the lake to install gates so that folks can’t launch without first being inspected. Best case scenario: ramps will open at 7AM.
Considering some of the best mack, rainbow and brown action occurs well before that time, you may be outta luck. You can check with the marina nearest you about slips and buoys, but those are super expensive. I ended up buying a season pass, which at $250 wasn’t exactly chump change, but it gets me a key to the gate so I can launch whenever…provided, of course, I’ve been inspected and tagged prior.
You are going to see this more and more on lake across the West as these unwelcome visitors continue to spread. To read more about invasive species, click HERE
is there a way to find out what lakes not to go to . the ones that are infected with the mussels . so i can stay away from them . thanks .rob
Hey Rob, each state maintains a list of infected waters and they’re all online…you just have to do a little Google work.
What about Sea Planes? I see them come and go on Clear Lake .
I live near Lake Casitas and we have the same thing. Super strict. Your boat has to be inspected and completely dry, then quarantined for 10 days. You have your tag and cable removed when you enter and re-installed when you leave. It sucks because none of the local lakes cooperate and each has it’s own rules. It makes it hard to fish any other lake. They usually don’t do inspections on the weekend so if you fish another lake it means you are usually out of business for at least two weekends if you want back on your home lake. It’s a mess in the morning sitting in line for them to check your tag against the log book.
Don Moir says
Yup, We have to deal with all this on Clear Lake. Don’ t get me wrong, I;m not against protecting our waterways… The powers that be in Lake County have a system in place . My question with their system is, If you live in Lake County you can get a year pass decal. But, if you are from out of the area, you must be inspected monthly. My gripe is. The folks that are residents of Lake County should be inspected monthly too.,. Many bass fishermen from Lake County fish in tournaments all over. Yes, I know that they are required to get re-inspected when ever their boat goes out of the county and then returns. BUT THEY DON”T ! They too need to have monthly inspection decals . If so they will be held accountable too. What do you all think ?
thank’s JD Don 4reelfishin.com
Exactly! If we are going to jump through all the hoops, let’s just make sure the system is as successful as possible.
dick m says
I had to have a $30.00 IAS sticker last year to fish Flaming Gorge, Wy.. When I arrived, an “Inspector” gave the 16 ft Klamath a rectal finger check, asked a couple of questions [like where was this boat last used and when], then gave me the go ahead. Even though the IAS sticker was placed, before I left home in Ca., by exact measurements on the starboard bow [and he was on the port side of the boat] he made no effort to verify that indeed I had paid the $30.00 fee and had the sticker. The “Boat Cops” checked me from the port side, out in the water, were interested in the boat safety issues and license but had no concern for the IAS issue. Safety and license issues I totally agree with, but I felt for my $30.00 investment in their IAS sticker somebody could have at least acknowledge that I had it.
[Invasive Aquatic Species]
Steve Maiolini says
What about kayaks?
Yes, kayaks too. Went to Anderson and Coyote Reservoirs in Santa Clara county and both require a Park entry fee, boat launch fee, inspection fee, banding, and re-inspection if band removed. Same as boats.
Got my lake county tag. Whoo hooo.