Lake Norman & Mooresville

On the lake, it's safety first, last and always

Cooler weather has Lake Norman anglers in search of fall stripers and bass. Remember, when boating or fishing there is always a chance of becoming the victim of a mishap.

The good news is that many accidents can be avoided. Trips and falls are not uncommon, while skin cuts, bruises, broken bones and even man-overboard situations occur from time to time. Anglers should practice caution at all times, particularly when playing and unhooking a fish. Boat wakes, rough seas, quick starts, and difficult docking situations are major contributors to boat injuries.

Accidents can be reduced by keeping the boat's deck dry and clear of gear.

The ability to safely maneuver also improves if the boat is kept on an even keel. This means to properly distribute the weight and require that all passengers remain seated while under way.

Fishing rods, gaffs, nets, dock lines and anchors should be stowed in a hatch or in holders. Latch and secure all tackle boxes to prevent the contents from sliding and spilling.

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is appropriate to remember and practice.

Fish hooks are like missiles when they break free of a fish, tree branch or other obstruction. Expect them to fly directly back toward the rod tip and the angler holding it. It is much more prudent to fish with a loose drag and cut the line and retie it than it is to try to “yank” a tangled lure loose when hung.

Likewise, fish hooks should be secured to a rod guide or hook ring when not being used.

To avoid being bitten, finned or cut by a gill plate, anglers should wear gloves. Grip the fish near the head and gills. Covering a fish's eyes with your hand or a rag helps calm it while handling. Fish tend to stop wiggling when held upside down.

It is important to know which fish have teeth and which do not. Most freshwater fish do not, but many saltwater species have very sharp teeth. “Boga Grips” and other fish holding devices are available at tackle shops.

Knife cuts also can be prevented. Firmly hold the fish with gloves and cut away from the hand. Store the knife in a sheath when not being used.

In the event of a cut or puncture, administer first aid and visit a doctor for additional treatment. A tetanus shot may be necessary.

Exercise caution during docking situations. Docking is among the most dangerous of all boating procedures. Passengers should remain seated with arms and legs inside the vessel until it has been secured.

Some accidents happen when not on the water.

Care must be taken during the boat launch. When possible, position someone alongside the trailer to assist by giving directions. On a boat ramp, secure the parking brake and chock the trailer if you are alone.

Tips from Captain Gus

Hold white perch from the underside when unhooking. This will reduce the chance of being stabbed by its sharp-pointed fins and gills.

Likewise, with catfish, keep your hands away from the pointed and barbed dorsal and pectoral fins.

Upcoming events

The course “How to Safely Navigate Lake Norman,” is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville. Topics include “Understanding Lake Norman's Marker & Buoy System”, “The Ten Most Dangerous Places to Navigate” and “Lake Maps.”

The fee is $25. Details or registration: Capt. Scott Spivey at 704-587-0325 or

A free fishing seminar conducted by Capt. Gus Gustafson – “Fall Striped Bass Fishing on LKN: How to Find, Catch & Cook this Popular Gamefish”. Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville will be 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18. Details: 704-658-0822.

Hot Spots of the Week

Anglers fishing around pilings of bridges that crisscross the lake are catching spotted and largemouth bass, crappie, white perch and an occasional striped bass.

Bass continue to school throughout the day at the McGuire Hot Hole. Striped bass are cruising the edges of the river channel at depths to 50 feet.