The California drought has affected many things here in the South Valley. But it will not take away the traditional fun at the lake for Memorial Day!
“Our lake is doing really well,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, park manager at Lake Kaweah. ”As of a week ago, we still had more water than a year ago.”
Managed by the Army Corp of Engineers, Lake Kaweah was sitting at 65,000 acre-feet last week, which while not as high as it could be, leaves a lot of water for recreational use.
The lake is indeed a cool spot for Memorial Day weekenders. For those looking to stay at Horsecreek Campground, if all sites have not been reserved, they are on a first come, first serve basis. The same follows for picnic areas, which cannot be reserved in advance, and those wanting to rent house or motor boats from the marina.
“A lot of people think we may not have much water,” said Jeanne Howard, who owns Kaweah Marina with her husband, Brad. “We have quite a bit of water in the lake.”
Howard grew up on the lake as her parents owned and operated the marina for more than 40 years before retiring. Howard has more knowledge of the lake and area, and its history, than most.
A tremendous amount of boaters bring their own crafts, using the lake for the day via its three boat ramps. Many locals have their own houseboats, kept at the marina’s slips. But the marina also has more than 30 boats available for rent, some of which may still be available for the upcoming weekend.
Last week’s fishing derby brought a lot of use to the lake, but hardly made a dent in the amount of fish in the lake.
“Fishing should be really good,” Howard said, “the only thing is they have a lot to feed on. You have to be a good fisherman to catch them.”
The lake has seen a lot of brine shrimp and young small fish for larger fish and ducks to feed upon.
Deffenbaugh agrees that there are “plenty of fish out there,” he said. “But it’s not like fishing in a barrel, you may have to work a bit for them.”
The weekend is probably the busiest time of the year on the lake.
The California Department of Boating and Waterways offers the following warnings:
- Water and alcohol do not mix – do not drink alcohol on the lake. Like in an automobile, it is illegal to drink and drive a boat.
- Always wear a life jacket or personal flotation device – children and adults, as well as pets.
- It is illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to drive a motorboat.
- Water skiing or towing is only allowed during daylight hours and along with the boat driver, there must be an observer, who is at least 12 years of age.
“It will be crowded,” Deffenbaugh said, “so bring your patience with you.”
And while the water level is lower than usual for the time of year, there are advantages to it.
“We don’t have as much water,” Howard said, “but we do have more parking.”