Changing tides bring on changing ramps

John Liechty

The lake level of New Melones Reservoir is one that is constantly fluctuating, but never in a predictable way. As of late, it has been on a steady fall starting mid-spring. Island tops, trees, ridges and more have been submerged for the past couple of years and are starting to reemerge.

It is great to see things that have not seen fresh air for a long time. The lake is ever-changing and is almost always at a different level each season, which makes it one of the most unpredictable fisheries I know. But as the water level decreases, the land surrounding the lake increases. As one ramp extends to its longest point, another begins to become exposed.

Day after day, and week after week, the main upper launch ramp on the Calaveras side of New Melones has been growing. It becomes taller and taller; being able to see it stretch in both ways every day is an interesting sight. As we wrap up a long day of fishing, we tie to the dock and look forward to the daunting task of retrieving the truck.

This long expanse of concrete appears to be never ending. Once the first few steps are taken, it’s really not that bad. But, wouldn’t it be nice if it were substantially shorter? Well, once the lake drops a few more feet, it will be and the next ramp will be the main staple. There are five total launch ramps on Glory Hole Point to give lake access at every elevation. Some are nicer than others and I’ve launched from them all.

My predictions on when the docks would move went from maybe a month from now, to possibly next week. Then, “maybe tomorrow” to “it should be any day now” as you can use the next parking lot and next concrete ramp. These predictions continued till last Thursday, when we launched in the early morning on yes, the longest upper ramp. And that morning I remember saying, “I can’t wait for them to move the dock. Come on now.”

My request was answered that day. We finished an extended and relatively hot day of relentless casting and knew we had a long walk to get the boat. But as we pulled in, we noticed, at long last, they had moved the docks. At first, a moment of joy overcame us knowing that the walk of death was no more. Then an ironic moment of disappointment came with the realization that now this final walk to the top was actually even longer than before. My buddy offered to make this final trek, and I gladly let him.

The following morning was so nice. I drove right to the water’s edge, launched the boat, parked close by, and leisurely walked back without facing any change in slope. Then I set off for a day of fishing with a feeling of contentment, knowing that the end of the day would be as effortless as the beginning.

John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at 743-9932.

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