2017-the year of the houseboat

Houseboat paradise at Shasta Lake

by Gary Heffley
4-10-2017
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Let me make the declaration now: 2017 will be the year of the houseboat vacations on Northern California Lakes. When the houseboating Mecca for California, Shasta Lake, is full, summer vacationers flock to the lake to take in the surrounding beauty and partake in the unlimited recreational water sports the lake offers. Houseboats provide the perfect base of operations for fishing, water skiing, personal watercraft, hiking or just lazy cruising along the lake's many arms. And when full, there are few lakes that rival in natural backdrops, many coves finding small waterfalls entering the lake, wildlife roaming the shoreline and bald eagles soaring overhead looking for a quick fish meal to swoop out of the lake.

But Shasta Lake will indeed have a rival this year that many have yet to explore, Trinity Lake which has suffered mightily in recent years due to California's drought conditions with deep drawdowns, is once again near full. Currently Trinity is 15 feet from full pool, steadily rising with the majority of the snow from the nearby Trinity Alps just beginning to melt off.  (Shasta, even after the emergency releases of earlier this year, is once again just under 17 feet from full and rising as well.) With the backdrop of the Alps to the west, Trinity is a beautiful houseboating vacation setting in it's own right. Major highway improvements on Highway 299 west of Redding along Buckhorn Summit will make the drive to Trinity much easier and faster especially for those towing boats to the lake from Highway 5. The trek over 299 was a deterrent to many keeping Trinity a bit more exclusive and underutilized for many years.

Lake Oroville, despite the massive spillway cleanup and repair, will also provide plenty of lake area to explore and offer excellent houseboat vacation opportunities. Even smaller reservoirs such as Bullard's Bar, home to the current and pending world record spotted bass, offer houseboat opportunities.

For anglers, now until the start of the high season, usually around Memorial Day, the rental prices of houseboats are very reasonable and fishing can be outstanding. Houseboats can provide a great base of operations and is a great alternative for those who normally camp along the shoreline. Experience all the comforts of home and with the spate of wet weather we have been experiencing, a dry home at that.

Bass anglers are enjoying quality fishing currently at all the aforementioned lakes. With cooler water temperatures the water skiers, pwc users and “water gnats” have yet to take over the lake.  Shasta and Trinity lakes also provide great trout and landlocked king salmon fisheries.  Landlocked kings are also on tap at Oroville as well as trout to a lesser degree, while kokanee are offered at Bullard's Bar as well as Trinity. Fishing for catfish at night from the back of the houseboat is a bonus to many as well.

There are houseboats ranging from what can be described as large “campers” on pontoons, providing a very comfortable platform providing cooking, eating and for sleeping 6-8 people, to houseboats that rival the best in accommodations featuring satellite TV, DVD players, hot tubs, fireplaces and fully appointed kitchens sleeping upwards of 16 people comfortably.

There are literally thousands of houseboats available to rent on North State Lakes and even with that staggering number, there is plenty of quiet water and shore to claim as your own. It is not too early to book now for that summer vacation as boat reservations are being taken at all resorts and with the full lakes projected the reservations are filling fast.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over seven years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has long history in the Sporting Goods field and is presently managing the Gift Bar and Camping Department at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.