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Bass Lake Boat Patrol Frequently Asked Questions

Q- Do I have to register my boat on Bass Lake?

A- Yes, a Pollution Control Permit is required on vessels/boats in the County of Madera on Bass Lake at all times.  The permit is valid from January 1st and expires on December 31st each year.  The permit is only valid when it is affixed and displayed on the starboard side of the vessel next to the CF number. 

Q- Where can I purchase a Pollution Control Permit and what are the fees?

A-Pollution Control Permits can only be purchased at one of the three marinas on Bass Lake; Bass Lake Boat Rentals, Millers Landing and Forks Resort.  The fees are based on horsepower and are as follows;

0-50 HP=$32.00, 51-250 HP=$50.00, 250+ HP=$63.00, PWC-$50.00

Q- Can I purchase a one day or week permit for my boat?

A- No, the permit is a onetime fee per year and is valid from the time of purchase to Dec 31st each year.

Q- Where can I go for more information on boating safety laws and regulations?

A-Online sources offer a wide variety of boating safety resources and classes.  Check out the links on this web page.

Q- Does my boat need to be registered with the state of California on Bass Lake?

A- Yes, All vessels must have current state registration affixed to the starboard and port side of the vessel at all times in order to operate on Bass Lake.

Q- Do I need a license to operate a boat?

A- Yes, as of January 1st 2018 a California Boater Card is mandatory when operating a vessel/boat.  Boaters will be able to choose to take an approved boating safety course online, in the classroom, or through home study.  For more information please visit

Q- What rules and regulations apply specifically for boat operation on Bass Lake in Madera County?

A- Please refer to the Madera County Code Online for Madera County boating rules and regulations.

Q- What about boating and alcohol use?

A- No person shall operate any recreational vessel or other device while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Harbor and Navigation Code 655 (b)(c) & 655.6(a).

Q- When does the lake open and close each day?

A- Bass Lake is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  A speed of 5mph or no wake is mandatory between sunset or 8pm,(whichever comes first) and 8am.

Q- What is the speed limit on Bass Lake?

A- Madera County Code 9.28.140 has established a 40 MPH speed limit for Bass Lake during the following conditions; Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, including weekends that accompany each holiday.  Or any other time in which Sheriff’s personnel can establish a hazardous or unsafe condition.  A red flag will be flown at each marina during these times.  If traveling between shoreline to orange buoy area, the speed limit is 5mph/no wake.  A speed of 5mph or no wake is mandatory between sunset or 8pm,(whichever comes first) and 8am.

Q- Where can I launch my boat?

A- Boats can be launched from two public launch locations; Wishon Point boat ramp on the south shore of Bass Lake or Bass Lake Boat Rentals on the north shore of Bass Lake.  Wishon Point is managed by the National Forest Service and California Land Management.   Bass Lake Boat Rentals is a commercial business and marina.  The Madera County Sheriff’s Office is not affiliated with either launch site, fees may apply.

Q- What is the proper direction of travel on Bass Lake for boats and vessels?

A- The proper direction of travel on Bass Lake is counter clockwise.  If traveling between shoreline to orange buoy area, the speed limit is 5mph/no wake and the counter clockwise pattern does not apply.  

Q- Do I have to wear life vest on my boat/vessel, what are the ages that shall wear a life vest?

A- All persons regardless of age shall wear a coast guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) while being towed behind a vessel or while aboard a personal water craft (PWC).  Children 13 and under shall wear a coast guard approved PFD while aboard a vessel, being towed behind a vessel, or while on a paddleboard, kayak etc.

Q- Are there specific areas in Bass Lake for personal water craft (PWC) to operate?

A- Yes, there are two PWC areas on Bass Lake.  One area is located on the north shore across from Millers Landing and the other area is located on the south shore between Denver church and Pine Slope day use areas.   The PWC areas are marked with white buoys that indicate PWC area only.  No boats, vessels, swimmers, paddle boards, kayaks etc. may enter or occupy this areaPWC’s shall not tow a person or object on Bass Lake.

Q- Where can I swim in Bass Lake?

A- There are several designated swim areas in Bass Lake.  Boats, vessels, paddle boards, kayaks, or personal water craft (PWC) shall not enter or occupy these areas.  The swim areas are marked by white buoys that indicate swim area only.  The swim areas are located in the following locations on Bass Lake; Falls Beach swim area, Recreation Point swim area, Forks Cove swim area, and the Pines Resort.

Q- Where can I use my paddle board on Bass Lake and what are the requirements?

A- Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP’s) shall only be ridden within the 5 MPH/No wake zone on Bass Lake.  A paddle board is considered a “vessel” by the Coast Guard and shall be equipped with proper gear and follow navigation rules.  Paddle board’s must be equipped with a Coast Guard approved PFD for each occupant, Children 12 and under must wear a PFD at all times while on the paddle board, paddle board occupant’s must be equipped with a sounding device and a lighting device during darkness. 

Q - What is the most important rule in boating and water safety?

A- United States Coast Guard Rule #2(83.02) - Responsibility; Nothing in these rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master, or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by ordinary practice.