Labor Day profitable despite low lake levels


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and Photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 3 at 10:04 PM

AUSTIN -- Even though lake levels remain well below normal at Lake Travis, it was a busy and profitable holiday weekend for many water sport businesses.

"Lake Travis is a pretty deep lake," said Capt. Hawkeye Roth with Just for Fun boat rentals. "People look at the depth of the lake and everything and go, 'Oh my gosh, there's not much water.' Well when you are 57 feet low and there's some 300 feet in the lake, that leaves you 250 feet to play in.  We really still have plenty of water out here, and we're doing okay."

But still, Roth says low lake levels are not something to ignore.

"When you've got a problem or situation and you know you are not going to be getting as much you tend to, [you have to] tighten the purse strings a little bit," he said. "Maybe you don't spend as much or get as much niceties as you would normally get."

Video from the Lower Colorado River Authority shows just how low Lake Travis levels got last year. Surprisingly, Just for Fun is hoping to match last year's earnings.

"The funny thing is we made money with less water," said Roth. "It was just a fluke or what, but we came out with real good numbers. I think the people just refused to let the water whip them. I think they decided they were going to go out and have fun no matter what and they did okay."

A few hundred yards away at Carlos and Charlie's the unusable boat docks are evidence of the low lake levels. Like Just for Fun, Carlos and Charlie's has learned to adapt.

"At this point we do have more water in the lake than we did last year for the same weekend and that has helped us," said Carlos and Charlie's General Manager Jason Claunch. "Having the Mansfield Dam open and available to use for their public boat ramp has helped. Obviously we can get a few more boats on the water and a little more traffic.  We've noticed more people coming through the doors."

Carlos Barrientos, who chose to do his own cooking, says he appreciates being able to enjoy the view of the lake from Mansfield Dam Park.

"It's one of my days off during the week days," said Barrientos. "I like to come and enjoy the lake for a little while and then go back home and go to work the next day."