The Never Ending Season On The Piedmont Lakes
One of the benefits of living in the South’s sunny climes is enjoying agreeable weather every month of the year. Yeah, we still have four distinct seasons. Springs, summers and falls always arrive in all their predictable glory, but winters, at least winters in the Piedmont, have lost their brutal, chilly sucker punch. Mostly. For boaters, it means more days available to recoup your ‘robi’ (return on boat investment), even during those shortest, darkest days of winter. Take that, Canada.
Fishermen, a rugged breed, are used to going out 365 days in all but the shabbiest weather … and loving it. But for the rest of us, you know, sane folk, we still can have a more than awesome time on the water before and after bikini, beer & bug bite season. For one thing, the lakes are less crowded. The dabblers and landlubbers are gone, leaving wide-open waters to the dedicated and deserving.
During fall, winter and spring waterfowl and wildlife are more abundant and visible, especially the migratory variety.
Being at the right place and time gives you have a great chance of spotting kingfishers, coots, herons, mallards, dove, owls, gulls, geese, egrets, ibis, buzzards, ravens, eagles, osprey and swans, to name just a few. Loons of course, are everywhere: the human, more annoying variety, as well as the feathered variety.
As for indigenous reptiles and mammals, the options run from black bear, beavers, foxes, rabbits, muskrats, otters, raccoon, deer, coyote and bobcats to the occasional Sasquatch sightings.
Several varieties of non-venomous snakes also call the Piedmont home, but they usually are hibernating during the cool weather months. The area’s only venomous snake, the copperhead, can be found along the banks of most of the Catawba lakes, while copperheads and timber rattlesnakes habituate the Yadkin River-area. Although there is some controversy about water moccasins living on and around the lakes of the Piedmont, most sightings have actually been the similar-looking but harmless banded water snake.
Photo Courtesy of BoatUS
Then there’s fishing. The best fishing of the year is in the spring and fall and winter, as pre-summer means pre-spawn, and autumn hosts an open buffet feeding frenzy. Lake Norman and Catawba the reservoirs are stocked with black crappie, striped and white bass, channel catfish, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, bluegill and yellow perch. Walleye can be found in some of the northern lakes of the Catawba River chain, and you can even find carp (yuk) in most of the area lakes.
High Rock Lake and the Yadkin River system is loaded with largemouth, smallmouth, guadalupe, spotted, striped, hybrid, white and yellow bass, blue, flathead and channel catfish, crappie, bluegills, bullheads, shad, freshwater drum, and bream. High Rock Lake is well known both locally and nationally as the home of the 1994, 1995, and 1998 Bassmasters Classic Bass Tournament, and is known as the “crankbait capital of the world.”
See the Piedmont Fishing Guide, for a directory of fishing guides and charters, as well as area bait and tackle shops. There’s also a handy fishing report full of tips for a successful day on the water.
Yeah, the best times of the year await the adventure seeker during the supposed “off-season” around here. The annoying insects are virtually non-existent, the throngs and masses have thinned, and for the diehard skier, tuber, wake boarder and paddle boarder, there’s always neoprene.
However, there are a few guidelines for optimum enjoyment and minimum hassles. Stay on top of service for your boat. After Labor Day, for most boaters, it’s time to winterize. Run antifreeze throughout your motor and fog out the carburetor. If you take your boat out twice a month for a couple of hours it will increase your service interval.
For a list of service providers, see “Winterizations”
When it finally does get chilly, there are easy ways to keep warm on the water. Adding a canvas enclosure (see “Covers & Upholstery” for great resources!) creates a great wind block for boats with walk-through windshields. Aftermarket onboard heating systems are also available for boats not pre-rigged. You can choose among engine heated, electric, oil or propane heaters … they all are relatively inexpensive and work great.
Reward yourself with uncrowded waters, natural wonder and a sense of accomplishment. Boat all year long!
There are few sights more stunning than autumn’s blazing colors mirrored on the water’s surface viewed from the comfort of your boat.