June is here and Lake Norman is OPEN for lake lovers! Lake Norman is known as a haven for water sports and recreation, and this is one thing that hasn’t changed! No matter how you personally like to enjoy the water, Lake Norman has a place just for you.
This month’s June Calendar image illustrates just one of many lake activities: paddleboarding! This activity is a wonderful way to experience the lake and exercise too. Paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing are boating activities that can be explored anywhere on Lake Norman. Weekdays, or early morning or late afternoons on the weekends, are often the best times to find “still” water and active wildlife which make these activities most enjoyable. If you don’t have your own vessel, no worries, there are many rental options available around the lake too.
Although paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing aren’t motorized boating activities, they are still governed by boating laws. The main rules to remember for non-motorized watercraft are: Each vessel needs a PFD for each passenger. Children under 13 must wear their PFD while underway. Have a whistle on hand for emergencies. Don’t stay out after sunset. For a brochure of all of the NC Vessel Operator rules, click here to the link to the NC Wildlife’s brochure.
However, not all parts of the lake are suitable for all activities. Due to bridge heights, some areas are not best for sailboats with fixed masts, and during times of high lake levels, some smaller bridges are not accessible to motorboats either. The Lake Norman Marine Commission’s site lists all of Lake Norman’s bridge heights at full pond. It is important for all boaters to know the lake levels and understand the lake geography before exploring new areas. When the lake is at lower levels, which usually is during peak energy demands in the summer, shoals or shallow areas become serious lake hazards to be avoided. Duke Energy, which manages all of the Catawba River basin lakes and shorelines has a robust website with links to many informative sites. One of which is their lake level page, where you will find up to date information on the lake levels for all of the lakes managed by Duke Energy. As of today, Lake Norman is at 98.7, which is 1.3 feet below full pond. Lake Norman is part of the Catawba-Wateree system of lakes created through damming the Catawba River. These lakes are James, Rhodhiss, Hickory, Lookout Shoals, Norman, Mountain Island, Wylie, Fishing Creek, Rocky Creek and Wateree. As stated on Duke Energy’s site, “These lakes and dams provide benefits that are balanced among the individual needs of several communities, including:
- Municipal water supplies
- Industrial and power plant water uses
- Daily release requirements and drought mitigation
- Wildlife habitat and aquatic environments
- Recreation (fishing, boating, skiing, docks, etc.)
- Each lake directly affects the other lakes in its system. To manage the level of one lake, Duke Energy must examine the levels and requirements at each of the other lakes in the system and respond accordingly.”
In addition to lake levels, lake enthusiasts should also be mindful of water quality, especially when swimming or jumping in to cool off on a hot summer day. The Catawba Riverkeepers have implemented an extremely useful swim guide to help swimmers know where to swim safely at Lake Norman and in our surrounding lakes. For more information, visit https://www.catawbariverkeeper.org/swim-guide/
If you’d like to learn more about Lake Norman’s recreational options or anything else about the lake, please let us know, we’ll be happy to help!