Fishin’ With Capt. Gus!: 2014 Boating Accidents

Tony Reynolds - Huntersville

Photo Credit: Capt. Gus

Tony Reynolds of Huntersville, NC
holds a trophy Lake Norman crappie

According to a report compiled and published by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in the spring of 2015, there were 130 boating accidents statewide during 2014. The majorities (107) were classified as non-fatal, but sadly, 23 fatal accidents resulted in 27 deaths. Furthermore, 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. The bad news was that two fatal boating accidents occurred on Lake Norman in 2014. Statewide, the leading type of fatal accidents was that the victim either jumped or fell overboard. The types of non-fatal accidents accounting for 44 cases were collisions with another vessel and/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 non-fatal accidents.

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 (PWC’s) registered statewide of which 9,286 were registered in the four counties that border Lake Norman.

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 (NASBLA) approved boating safety courses, visit the following websites:

* North Carolina Resources Commission at

* US Power Squadron at

* US Coast Guard Auxiliary at

* Lighthouse Marine Service at

According to Maj. Chris Huebner, the state 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 the fact 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.

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, NC at 6:30 p.m. on May 13th. 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 more information, call Ashley at 704 892 7575.

Free Fishing Seminar – “Fishing Terminology” – Knowing the language is important in every sport, and fishing is no different. During this session 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 ninety minute session at 6:30 p.m. on May 20th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, NC. For more information, call 704 658 0822.

Tips from Capt. Gus! To keep soft plastic lures 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.

The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the sixties in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 1.0 foot below full pond on Lake Norman and 1.8 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.

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 web site, or call 704-617-6812.


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