Fishermen and boaters who regularly ply Lake Norman know that water levels have been considerably lower than normal this summer.
In fact, the current lake level is 756.1 feet above mean sea level or 3.9 feet below full pond. Low water levels bring an increased risk of boat groundings and a higher likelihood of hitting submerged objects. Below are some do’s and don’ts to help make your next summer boating experience safer.
▪ Run closer to the middle of the channel than the edge.
▪ Stay between the red and green markers.
▪ Get out of your vehicle and visually check the boat ramp before backing the trailer into the water.
▪ Leave the dock or ramp with the out drive (motor) tilted up until you reach deep water.
▪ Have a current lake map aboard your vessel.
▪ Operate your vessel only in familiar waters until lake levels return to normal.
▪ Watch for dark spots, brown water, unusual wave patterns or objects protruding from the surface of the water.
▪ Run with the depth finder and/or GPS navigation systems on.
▪ Have a list of phone numbers to call in case your vessel runs aground or breaks down.
▪ Have a spare prop and the tools on board to make the switch in case the original is damaged.
▪ Do not forget to have a long tow line.
▪ Attend a safe boating class. Learn to interpret the Aids to Navigation and the Safe Boating Rules of the Road.
▪ Don’t take high water short cuts.
▪ Don’t go between red and white, or green and white markers.
▪ Don’t allow the trailer wheels to drop off the end of the boat ramp.
▪ Don’t approach a dock at any speed greater than you are willing to hit it.
▪ Don’t run aground before referring to the map.
▪ Don’t venture far from port after dark unless you are certain you know the return course.
▪ Don’t assume the water is deep enough to pass unless you are in a marked channel. Even then, when in doubt, slow to “no wake speed” and proceed with caution.
▪ Don’t assume the water is deep enough, just because you traveled the same area last summer.
▪ Don’t assume that all groundings occur at night. A careless boater can hit bottom at any time.
▪ Don’t forget to enroll the family in a safe boating class.
Free safe boating class
“How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd., Cornelius, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12. Becky Johnson and I will cover “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “Ten Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704 892 7575.
Tip from Capt. Gus
Blue catfish can’t resist raw chicken breasts marinated in garlic sauce. The chicken is cut into strips or pieces about the size of quarter and fished on the bottom the same way as with other fresh cut baits.
Best bets for bass are top water lures fished at first light in boat basins and around bridge pilings and rip-rap points. Anglers fishing the south hot hole are catching bass and white perch throughout the day. White perch are also being taken in water to thirty feet on Sabiki rigs fished vertically. Channel cats are hitting stink baits, worms and chicken parts in back coves and around docks.
The lake level on Lake Norman is about 3.9 feet below full pond and down 3.2 feet on Mountain Island Lake. The water surface temperature is in the high 80s, low 90s on Lake Norman.
Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and professional fishing guide on Lake Norman: Gus@lakenorman.com.