Low-water season brings challenges for boat owners
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Friday, Jan. 11, 2013

Low-water season brings challenges for boat owners

December-January brings challenges for boat owners

By mid-December, the water level on Lake Norman was five feet below full pond and caused major concerns to property owners and to those who use the lake.

The mini-drought that began in September ended abruptly when it finally rained during the holidays. This much-needed precipitation allowed the lake level to rise almost two feet in less than two weeks.

While everyone would like to see stabilized water levels year-round, winter drawdowns are inevitable. Historically, there is less rainfall in December and January than at any other time of the year.

Low water presents certain concerns and a few very real challenges to property owners, boaters and fishermen. For example, when the lake level approaches three feet below full pond, shoals, stumps and rock piles begin to show.

As it continues to recede, the lake begins to lose some of its charm. The glistening water that once lapped the shoreline begins to give way to the red clay that covers the lake bottom. At five feet, navigation becomes more difficult. Some boats become landlocked in their slips, and certain launch ramps can no longer be used.

Knowing that the water level falls each winter is important from a planning perspective for boat owners who berth their vessels in shallow-water slips. There are several options, but they must be exercised before the tide goes out, if they plan to use the vessel before spring:

• Put larger vessels in dry storage for the winter. This service is available at most marinas.

• Keep smaller boats on trailers.

• Move the boat to a temporary deep-water slip.

• For a permanent solution, have the area dredged.

Since Lake Norman is a deep lake, the main river and larger creek channels are navigable year-round. All one has to do is stay between the red and green channel markers that identify safe passage up and down the lake.

Lake maps that show the location of channel markers and other aids to navigation are available at local boating and fishing outlets.

Upcoming events

Free fishing seminar: “The Fish in Lake Norman” will be a discussion of how to identify, locate and catch fish throughout the year. Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this all-new 2013 seminar at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, in Mooresville. For information, call 704-658-0822.

Tip from Capt. Gus

When you feel a bite while perch fishing with a Sabiki jig, instead of reeling immediately, continue to move it a few more times to entice more fish to hit the other flies. When perch are feeding aggressively, the Sabiki will catch one to six fish on a single drop. As the action slows, add a piece of worm or cut bait to the hook.

Hot Spots of the Week

Deep water is producing excellent fishing for bass, perch and blue catfish.

Diving sea birds are showing the way to schooling white perch and spotted bass in Reed and Little creeks. Arkansas blue catfish are being taken on bottom rigs baited with chunks of chicken breast laced with garlic. Bass are striking a variety of swim baits, soft plastics and bucktail jigs off deep channel points.

Large crappie are hitting minnows and jigs around the pilings at the main channel N.C. 150 bridge.

The water level on Lake Norman is about 3.2 feet below full pond and is 2.9 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.

The surface water temperature is in the 50s in water not affected by power generation.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at Gus@LakeNorman.com.

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