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Private Waters : Exclusive Community Finds a Haven in Westlake Lake

September 29, 1993|MAIA DAVIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Lured by the calm, dark waters during Tuesday's stifling heat, Tim Severn and one of his friends thought they would do some fishing at Westlake Lake in the afternoon.

But before Severn, 20, and friend Alex Angelos, 21, could get their poles in the water, a white patrol boat sped toward them.

"We're getting booted right now," Severn said as he watched the boat approach.

And sure enough, Lake Operations Manager Bill Foreman kicked the two young men off the privately owned lake when Severn could not produce the required fishing permit.

Severn said his father had the permit.

"We'll probably go to Lake Sherwood," Severn said as he and Angelos ambled toward their car. "It's good fishing."

With the departure of Severn and Angelos, Westlake Lake was mostly deserted during the hottest part of Tuesday. It was a typical weekday afternoon at the man-made lake surrounded by the well-to-do planned community. And that's just the way the residents seem to like it.

"The good thing about this place is that it is upper middle class," said John Libardi, who said his parents have lived along the lake for 20 years. "The fishing here is from excellent to great."

Straddling the border separating Ventura and Los Angeles counties, Westlake Lake is open only to those who live there and their guests.

Private residences occupy the small island in the middle of the lake and border the water on all sides except for an opening at the far eastern end, where a small shopping complex with restaurants overlook the water.

Although Westlake Lake was quiet during the hottest part of the day, as soon as school let out and work was over, fishermen, roller-bladers and other regulars appeared along its shores.

Gloria Caplan said most people come to the lake on weekends, early mornings and evenings. "It's always so safe because there's so many people around," she said.

Caplan and her daughter, Jan Casper, walked to the lake with their dog late Tuesday afternoon as the sun retreated behind the mountains and the weather cooled slightly.

Stacy Turner and Kerry Page said they meet at the lake a few evenings a week to run or skate. With Turner living in Agoura Hills and Page in Thousand Oaks, Westlake Lake is a natural meeting point, the women said.

"It's nice with the lake and everything," Turner said as she laced up her skates and put on her wrist pads.

But runners and skaters who circle the lake actually see little of the lake's waters because their view is blocked by houses.

Other visitors to the lake Tuesday included Westlake resident Tom and Wendy McCahon, who were celebrating their eighth wedding anniversary.

"We seek water," Tom McCahon said. With their two young sons in tow, the couple came to Westlake Lake at about sunset, first stopping to have a drink at a restaurant along the lake and then wandering down to the water to feed the ducks.

While the McCahons and their sons sat on a boat slip to enjoy the water and ducks, a few people took out their pontoons or speedboats to get in a few hours of fishing before the sun went down.

But some fishermen cast their poles while they stood on the boardwalk open to the public.

Westlake resident Tom Taylor said he fishes at the lake about five evenings a week.

The catfish and bass in the lake are less shy when the area is quiet, he said. "With kids running up and down the boardwalk, it sometimes spooks them."

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