Boaters of all kinds are drawn to Lake County’s Clear Lake, especially with the arrival of the summer holidays and hot, sunny weather.
Anglers from all over the country come for the world-class bass fishing.
The lake is also very popular with water skiers, tubers, sailboats and other recreational boaters.
With visitors coming from so many varied and unknown locations, there is a very real threat that certain “aquatic hitchhikers” could infiltrate Clear Lake.
These include dangerous, invasive species such as Zebra and Quagga Mussels, which have been known to destroy the entire ecosystem of a lake. Accordingly, Lake County has become very protective of its waters.
All trailered vessels must undergo a screening process before launching at any body of water in Lake County. Each vessel stored anywhere outside of the county must be screened at least monthly, and re-screened after having been launched in any out-of-county body of water.
Violators caught launching without being screened are subject to a hefty fine of up to $1,000.
The screening process is relatively quick and simple. A brief application must be filled out, and the screening agent will ask a few questions about where the boat has been recently. There is a $10 fee for the screening.
Stickers demonstrating that the boat has passed the screening must be displayed on the boat and on the trailer.
Screenings are available at most marinas and tackle stores around the lake.
A list of screening locations is available at www.nomussels.com
Make sure you call ahead to make sure the location is open before you go.
On a recent trip to the lake, I failed to plan ahead properly and lost out on some prime fishing time.
We had arrived at Clear Lake State Park near Kelseyville right at dawn, hoping to catch the early topwater bass bite. The entrance kiosk to the park advertises that the screening stickers are available there, and the aforementioned website lists the hours open as “sunrise to sunset” every day of the week.
However, by 7:15 a.m. that Sunday morning there was still not a soul in sight, so we had to drive into Lakeport to find an open tackle shop. It seems the state budget cutbacks are impacting its ability to man the kiosk appropriately.
For more information on the screening process, visit the above website or call 263-2556.
These invasive mussels are a threat to all bodies of water.
Lake Berryessa has a self-certification process, with the form available online at http://on.doi. gov/KJ5AOb
Regardless of where you launch your boat, simple precautions will help prevent the spread of invasive species:
• Always remove all visible mud, plants, and animal matter before you leave the launch ramp to go home.
• Remove drain plugs from transom and live wells, and make sure the boat is dry for transport.
• Clean and dry anything that came into contact with the water or mud, including the boat, trailer, rafts, boots, equipment, dogs, etc.