Deer swimming across Lake Norman on Mother’s Day
Photo courtesy of Capt. Gus

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the 2017 Summer Boating Season. That is when weekends and holidays will lure thousands of boaters to Lake Norman’s crystal clear waters. This year will see more high speed boats, wake boarders, tubers and water skiers than ever before. As our boat population grows, so must the skill level of those in command of the helm. The following are points to ponder that will help make your next boating experience safer and pleasurable.

Early mornings are the quietest times to cruise Lake Norman. The earlier you set sail, the smoother the waters will be. Even on weekends, boat traffic is minimal until about 11:00 a.m. By mid-afternoon, the lake becomes congested and boat wakes become a nuisance. This is a good time to anchor in a sheltered cove or to beach the boat on one of Lake Norman’s many islands. If anchoring for the afternoon is not your thing, enjoy a late lunch or early dinner at one of the lake’s fine restaurants. Boat traffic usually subsides in time for a leisurely trip home before dark.

Night boating on Lake Norman can be a challenge, even for the experienced boater. As in all low light situations, the operator of the vessel should reduce the boat speed and keep a watchful eye out for any obstructions. Observers on board should be aware that some boaters unwisely elect to spend the night anchored in the lake’s busiest passageways, and many don’t bother to display a 360° (required) white anchor light. Without proper lights, a vessel is almost invisible to passing boats. Another potential hazard is a boat without proper running lights. Worse yet, are boats with the red and green lenses reversed on the bow lights. This makes the boat’s direction confusing, dangerous, and impossible to determine at night. Also be reminded that docking lights are not to be used as headlights.

Lake Norman is North Carolina’s largest lake. It is so big that even experienced boaters become disoriented at times. A good lake map, compass and GPS are useful tools to help keep one on course. Two additional “must have” items are a cell phone and a VHF marine band radio. Either can be used to contact help in an emergency. Another often overlooked, but necessary item to have on board, is an anchor with sufficient rope and chain to hold the boat should it lose power and began to drift

All skippers should know how to correctly interpret the lake’s channel marker system. Main river channel markers begin with numbers; creek markers begin with letters. Numbers increase as you travel away from Cowan’s Ford Dam. Remember to keep the red markers on the starboard (right) side when traveling up river, and the green to the port (left) side. Diamond shaped shoal markers are white. They identify a hazard of some type and should be passed with extreme caution.

June Fishing Forecast:
Expect fabulous fishing in June, particularly if you target bass, catfish and white perch.
Bass will be on the banks from dusk until early morning, and can be caught on top water lures and jerk baits. As the sun rises, they head for shade under boat docks or migrate to deeper water where they can be tricked into hitting soft plastics and long lipped crank baits. Catfish bite best after dark, but can be taken twenty-four hours a day.Best baits to use are fresh dead fish, chicken parts and live gold fish. Summer is the time when big blue cat fish and flatheads are most lightly to bite, so use tackle heavy enough to land twenty plus pounders. White perch will gather in large schools this month and are easily taken on shiny lures, flies and minnows fished near the bottom in twenty to fifty feet of water.

Upcoming Events:
“How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” –  A “free” safe boating class will be held at Morning Star Marina, 18020 Kings Point Drive, Cornelius, NC 28031 on June 14th at 6:30 p.m. Sgt. George Brinzey, Becky Johnson and I will cover topics that include “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System”, “How to Avoid Shallow Water”,” The Ten Most Dangerous Spots”, “Interpreting Lake Maps” and “Safe Boating Law Enforcement Tips.” For more information, call:  704 746 3753<tel:704%20892%207575>.

Free Fishing Seminar – “Fishing Equipment Needs for Changing Conditions” – Jake Bussolini will conduct this ninety minute seminar beginning at 6:30 p.m. on June 22nd  at the Lake Norman Volunteer Fire Dept., 1518 Brawley School Rd., Mooresville, NC. For additional information, contact Jake at 704-201-8709.

Lake Norman’s water level is near full pond. The surface water temperature is in the low eighties in water not affected by power generation.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an Outdoor Columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his website at or call 704-617-6812.