Lake Norman & Mooresville

2014 report: 13 boating accidents in Lake Norman

Gus Gustafson of Sherrills Ford, Lake Norman striped bass fishing guide.
Gus Gustafson of Sherrills Ford, Lake Norman striped bass fishing guide.

According to a report by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission this spring, there were 130 boating accidents statewide during 2014.

The majority –107 – were classified as nonfatal, but sadly, 23 fatal accidents resulted in 27 deaths. There were 176 vessels involved in the 130 accidents and 93 people required medical treatment.

Lake Norman had 13 boating accidents, down from 14 in 2013, ranking it second in the state behind the Intracoastal Waterway, with 18. Two fatal boating accidents happened on Lake Norman in 2014.

Statewide, the leading type of fatal accidents involved the victim jumping or falling overboard. The types of nonfatal accidents accounting for 44 cases were collisions with another vessel or collision with a fixed object. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, faulty machinery/equipment/hull, excessive speed and careless/reckless operation were also among the leading causes of nonfatal accidents.

Statewide, a total of 6,262 students received boater education certificates in 2014, compared to 16,877 in 2013. For information about the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved boating-safety courses, visit:

▪  N.C. Resources Commission at

▪  U.S. Power Squadron at

▪  U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at

▪  Lighthouse Marine Service at

According to Maj. Chris Huebner, the N.C. boating safety coordinator, “Wear a life vest. Most people who drown in a boating accident had a life vest available, but they were not wearing it when they went into the water. You don’t have to be on a moving boat or in turbulent waters to fall overboard. Accidents happen quickly. Wearing a life vest is the best way to be prepared.”

As in years past, the 2014 Boating Accidents and Fatalities Report should be a red flag to boaters, particularly the statistics concerning operator inattention, carelessness/reckless driving, and that a large number of the boat operators on North Carolina’s waterways have not completed an approved boater-safety course.

Safe boating is no accident. Do your part to make Lake Norman a safer place to navigate and enjoy.

The year ended with a total of 302,713 boats registered throughout the state, a decrease of 1,945 from 2013. Statewide boat registrations are off the peak of 371,255 in 2007 and at the lowest point since 1994 when 311,854 were registered. In addition, there were 43,222 personal water craft (PWCs) registered statewide, of which 9,286 were registered in the four counties that border Lake Norman.

Upcoming events

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. May 13. Becky Johnson and I will cover “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “10 Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.

Free fishing seminar. Knowing the language is important in every sport, and fishing is no different. During this “Fishing Terminology,” you will learn the meaning of many terms used in day-to-day fishing conversations. For example, the differences between hook sizes #5 versus #5/0 or umbrella and Alabama rigs, versus Texas and Carolina rigs will be explained.

Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this session at 6:30-8 p.m. May 20 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. For information, call 704-658-0822.

Tip from Capt. Gus

To keep a soft plastic lure from slipping on the hook, put a drop of super glue in the hook eye, and slide the lure over it.

Hot spots of the week

Spotted bass are chasing bait fish to the surface at dawn in boat basins and back coves. Throughout the day, they are roaming the shallows and hitting top water, jerk and soft plastic lures. Warming water temperatures have blue catfish hitting a variety of baits, including fresh-cut shad, herring, bream and chicken parts. Crappie fishing is very good for those who toss small jigs under boat docks and around downed trees.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at