There is good news and bad news for boaters looking to hit the water through Labor Day—the county parks system’s biggest body of water, Anderson Lake, will be open through Sept. 5, but Coyote Lake closed in July because of low water levels.
There had been warnings that Anderson might close early because water from it was being used to fight off an algae bloom in the San Luis Reservoir, but the parks department says it will stay open through the holiday weekend.
Last year it closed in mid-August when the water level fell below 40,000 acre feet, less than half of its 90,000 capacity and boats couldn’t be safely launched. Boaters can now use the 1,250-acre lake, but will need to make a reservation for the holiday weekend at www.gooutandplay.com.
Anderson Lake at Anderson Lake County Park is Santa Clara County’s largest reservoir. The lake is seven miles long and has a surface area of 1,250 acres. It’s a popular spot for power boating. Personal watercraft are also allowed, included jet-skis, water-skis, inner tubes, wake boards, and knee boards.
Brian and Susan Cardello have been boating at Anderson Lake since 1999. They like to come there with their children three or four times each summer. Of all South Santa Clara County parks that allow boating, the Cardellos said they prefer Anderson Lake because it’s close to their home.
Anderson Lake is also a popular fishing spot. Populations of largemouth bass, black crappie, white crappie, and bluegill can be found in the lake.
“There are a lot of good fishing spots,” said Sergio Naranjo, a Morgan Hill resident who’s been fishing for 30 years. “Bass are easy to catch here.”
State and health officials advise fishers to limit their intake of fish caught at Anderson Lake due to elevated levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) found in the fish. According to the Santa Clara County parks website, the contaminants aren’t detected in the water, but are present in smaller organisms consumed by the fish.
Coyote Lake at Harvey Bear Ranch County Park has been closed since July 18 because of low water levels. The lake is a three-mile long body of water with a surface area of 635 acres. The beautiful location is nestled in the hills northeast of Gilroy. Anglers can catch channel catfish, carp, black crappie, black bass, and bluegill.
In addition to fishing, Coyote Lake also allows power boating, kayaking, jet-skiing, water-skiing, and sailing.
“Every once and awhile we get someone who brings their sailboat to take out on the water,” said Carlos Gonzales, who works for Quagga Inspection Service. “It’s really something to see.”
Quagga Inspection Service works with Santa Clara County to prevent zebra and quagga mussel invasions in local bodies of water. According to a pamphlet handed out at boating inspection sites, mussels tend to spread to new habitats on boats that have been in infested waters. They can clog power-plant and public-water intakes and pipes, which can result in increased utility bills.
No reservations are required to take vessels and floats out on Coyote Lake. The lake is closed to boating of all kinds from mid-October to mid-April.
Calero Reservoir is located in the 4,455-acre Calero County Park west of Coyote Lake. The reservoir is open year round to both power and non-power vessels and floats. This includes sailing, water skiing, and jet skiing.
Vessels and floats are permitted only at Anderson Reservoir, Calero Reservoir and Coyote Lake.
Although it’s possible to find largemouth bass in the reservoir, fishing at Calero is catch-and-release only, as elevated levels of mercury make the fish unsafe to eat.
The Chesbro and Uvas reservoirs are located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains west of Morgan Hill. Chesbro has a surface area of 328 acres, while Uvas has a surface area of 288 acres. Boating and swimming are prohibited at both reservoirs, making them perfect shoreline fishing spots.
Uvas Reservoir has populations of channel catfish and rainbow trout, while populations of bass and crappie have been reported in Chesbro Reservoir.
If you’re looking for a peaceful spot to throw your line, you’d be hard pressed to find calmer bodies of water in South Santa Clara County.
If you go
Before launching any vessel or float on a Santa Clara County Reservoir, all vessels and floats going into a Santa Clara County Reservoir must pass inspection prior to launch. Vessels and floats must be “clean and dry,” meaning that no dirt, vegetation, or water can be found anywhere on the vessel. This includes internal compartments of the vessel, as well as the engine. If any water is observed coming out of the vessel, that will result in a failed inspection.
Also, all vessel owners must present a hard copy of current vessel registration to park staff before proceeding to a mussel inspection station.
About the parks
County Park hours of operation are 8 a.m. to sunset.
Lake/reservoir hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 30 minutes before sunset.
Parking is $6.
A fishing license is required for all persons 16 or older.
Swimming is prohibited in all county lakes, streams and reservoirs.