Joyce on the Lake

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  • 7 Aug 2021 10:09 AM | Caron-Mercier (Administrator)

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  • 7 May 2021 6:54 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | May 6, 2021 | High Rock Lake

    Its Time To Get Ready For Lake Recreation Season


    I know we are all ready to get out on the lake, but are we? We have been on High Rock Lak a thousand times but really what should we do BEFORE we get out there and let the breeze flow through our hair???

    I recently had the opportunity for a sit-down conversation with Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer Ashley O’Hare. One of my first observations was how respectful folks are, and should be, of the officers for Wildlife Law Enforcement who are here for us and to ensure our safety. While dining outside in Southmont, there were lots of folks who came by to ask questions and say hello.   A few children approached O’Hare out of curiosity and asked the big question, “Do you have a gun?” O’Hare made a point to be welcoming, polite, and professional. This interaction may be the first for a child and she wants it to be a positive one. O’Hare shared she has heard many a boater exclaims to youngsters on a boat, “You better put on your life jacket or the lake police will take you away!”  Not the reputation you want.

    Let me share a few items that I discovered about the N.C. Wildlife Commission [NCWC].


    There are 16 Divisions which includes Conservation Policy, Inland Fisheries (biologists), Wildlife Management, Land & Water Access (game lands), Habitat Conservation, Wildlife Education, Customer Service (licensing & permits), Conservation Policy, Wildlife Interaction & Regulated Activities, and the Front Office (Communications, IT, Digital, Marketing, Purchasing, HR, NC Wildlife Magazine). Most of us associate NCWC just with Law Enforcement. Law Enforcement Officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission enforce the boating laws and navigational rules in North Carolina’s public waters to create a safe boating environment for everyone. There are nine districts, High Rock Lake is in District 6.


    “Our collaborative campaign with N.C. State Police is “ON THE ROAD, ON THE WATER, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE,” shared O’Hare. Boating while impaired [BWI] is .08 blood alcohol level. There will be a focus on those persons that are boating and drinking, then load up their boat and think they can drive home. Driving under the influence is bad enough, but couple it with towing a 2,000 lb. boat on a trailer. Not a good combination!

    Look out for the BAT bus – Breath Alcohol Testing unit

    If a boater is under the influence and is taken into custody, then what happens? Did you know there is a field sobriety test, yes even on the lake? Do not worry, it is not walking the plank, but there is a method to test boating while impaired for persons that are under suspicion of drugs and/or alcohol. Individuals will be ‘invited’ into the BAT unit that will produce immediate results which is given to the designated Magistrate. Probable cause can bring you in.


    New boat owners need to have some basic knowledge of the lake AND their boat. The worst possible scenario is for a new boat owner and/or resident of High Rock Lake to launch their boat on a holiday weekend for the first time.  It is NOT the best time to learn the lake AND your new vessel. The lake is especially busy and choppy with all the activity. And plan to be back at your dock before sunset. You need to get your bearings on the waterway in the daylight before you try to learn your way back in the dark. The lake does not have street poles, or navigational lights on the shoreline, but we do have several sand bars, crops of trees and floating and/or stuck trees in our lakebed.

    Even if you have been boating for years elsewhere, you need to know local water recreation rules; each lake has its own set of rules. Check out under boating. There are downloadable guides and even maps of the lakes.

    All boat owners need to check out each life jacket before the season starts. Every boat needs to have a personal floatation device [PFD] in serviceable condition, of appropriate size, and accessible for each person onboard. North Carolina requires anyone younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest when on a recreational vessel. Anyone riding a personal watercraft or being towed by one must also wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest.  Life jackets do save lives if worn properly. That means a good (snug not tight) fit for adults. Infants and children MUST always wear their life jackets while on the boat.

    Officers continually, and proactively, enforce laws and rules regarding authorized no-wake zones, as well as the reckless and negligent operation of any motorboat or vessel on these waters. 


    • Stay at least 200 feet away from the shoreline, docks, or other structures.
    • Keep music at reasonable levels. Sound travels well over water. If it is loud enough to hear at 80 feet back, it is likely loud enough for homeowners and other to hear as well.
    • Minimize repetitive passes on any one portion of the shoreline. Once you have run the same line for a while, move on to another area. 


    • Wake boats are high-tech, specialized boats with ballasts that fill with water to adjust for the size of wake desired.
    • Wake boats can produce significant wake (3 – 4 feet) at low speeds (10 mph). No wake zones mean no white water being expelled from your boat.
    • Wake is one of many factors that can cause erosion.
    • Erosion, dock/boat property damage and noise are the primary complaints associated with the use of wake boats.
    • Because the ballasts of wake boats fill with water, transfer of aquatic nuisance species could be an issue.


    Both Davidson and Rowan Counties Sheriff departments have lake patrols on High Rock Lake. They work in conjunction with NCWC Law Enforcement. There are a few misconceptions that the sheriffs’ departments cannot cross over the county line in the middle of the lake. They can and will if there is a person of interest. Additionally, NCWC Law Enforcement works the entire lake and can retrieve person of interest from boats, private docks and even your home.


    Every boat owner is responsible for their guests and a good habit to start, especially if you have new friends visiting, since you have a shiny new toy, is to ask who cannot swim…  Even though you have enough life jackets for each guest, you may need to direct extra precaution to an individual who is not a strong swimmer or not comfortable around water. It a good habit to start right now.  As the captain, you are responsible for your boat, its navigation and all guests on your vessel at all times.


    Are your three lights (red/left side/port, green/right side/starboard, and white) properly working? Do you have chem lights, and backup bulbs too. Other boaters NEED to see you, from all angles.

    BOAT INCIDENTS – 800-662-7137

    All accidents and injuries ‘more than first aid’ must be reported to wildlife dispatch, especially if there is damage of $2,000 or more, i.e., boat, dock, or person. All incidents on the lake must be recorded, including death and disappearance.

    For more information, please go to

    We all have smart phones so there is no excuse to not know the CURRENT rules of lake boating. Some of the downloadable information contained on the website:

    “Remember we are not here to mess with your vacation and fun. The stops are normally quick. We want you to be able to go back to your home safe at the end of the day!” shared O’Hare.


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2021. Please email me at


    #itsaROCOthing         #lakeliving    #YourRowan   #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake   #LakeLife

  • 12 Apr 2021 6:33 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Apr 8, 2021 | High Rock Lake

    High Rock Lake – Too Much Rain Lately

    Its spring, I get it. But enough with the rain already Mother Nature! How much more can we use? High Rock Lake is full. I do not have a beach any longer.

    So, what is going on and what happens with all that water falling from the sky, coming down from the Yadkin River and runoff from our developed lands? I asked a few folks in the know that make it their business to ensure we have good quality water and soil for generations to come.

    First, I wanted to get an actual gauge on how much rain we have received this first quarter of 2021. And there is no better way than to reach out to our very own Rowan County Weather, Chief Forecaster Steve Monday.

    “To this point in the year we are about five inches above normal for rainfall. The impacts of erosion on the shoreline depend on a few things. If flood waters run downstream from the mountains and into our lakes, rivers, and streams the rushing water can erode the shoreline as it passes by. However, with heavy torrential downpours over the county we could experience that same erosion. This can also cause sediment to load from stormwater runoff and rising water levels to do major damage to the eco systems around our waterways. This can threaten fish, invertebrates and aquatic vegetation” said Monday.


    Lately there is a growing concern with the higher-than-normal lake levels spilling into smaller creeks, such as Panther Creek and Bringle Ferry Road. With some potential flooding outside of the Yadkin River Basin. Monday continues, “It certainly is possible as this is how water flows into the ocean. Water flows downstream from the mountains into lakes, rivers, and streams until it reaches the ocean. If the water moves in faster than our rivers, lakes, and streams can handle then flooding around the waterway is likely to occur.”


     “A few things come to mind. Residents can shore up the shore. Stacking large rocks side by side along the shore can help prevent erosion. Although planting natural vegetation along the shoreline is best and can help as the plants root system can tighten up the shoreline. Lastly, keeping large animals away from the shoreline. Large animals stomping around the shoreline can break the soil and dirt apart causing it to fall in the water. This slowly speeds up the erosion process. One way many areas try to avoid this is by installing fencing along wooded areas along the shoreline to keep larger animals from walking in that area.  Erosion typically takes a long time to occur. However, by taking time to prevent erosion you can make the process take even longer to occur,” explained Monday.

    Kelli Isenhour, with Rowan County Soil and Water Commission, echoed that vegetation is the solution to getting in front of erosion on our properties and recreational areas, “One of the best things landowners can do to prevent erosion is to maintain as much vegetation as possible on their land. A clear view of the creek, river, or lake is great, but when you cut down all the trees and shrubs for a better view and plant a lawn right up to the edge – you are inviting erosion problems. The roots of trees, perennials, native grasses, and shrubs all help soak up the water and act as a physical barrier to slow the water and keep soil in place. Many native plants and grasses have extremely long roots that, once established, work very well to help stabilize the soil.

    Even bare soil that is simply covered with straw, or mulch helps prevent erosion,” continued Isenhour.

    Many of Rowan County’s farmers implement Best Management Practices to conserve soil and protect our waterways. Planting a cover crop after a harvest is one such method. The additional crop not only helps preserve the soil, but it also adds nutrients back to the soil when it is time to plant the main crop. Cover crops can be utilized by the home gardener too. Soil and Water Conservation Districts offer technical assistance and, in some cases, cost share money, to help farmers keep their soil in place and protect our local waterways.


    I spoke with Travis Morehead, Executive Director, Three Rivers Land Trust (TRLT) based right here in Salisbury. “ In order to improve or even maintain the current water quality in the Yadkin River and associated lakes, land owners should consider how their property and its use impacts the situation. One way to permanently protect the water quality of our rivers and streams is by permanently conserving properties with a conservation easement.  Conservation easements are a voluntary agreement between the landowner and TRLT that limits the future development of properties. In our 26-year history, we have permanently conserved over 300 miles of stream and river corridors in the central piedmont and sandhills,” shared Morehead.

    Just a few weeks ago, TRLT announced the conservation of a 35-acre property located in Rowan County, purchased from the Crowther Family in February of 2021. This new conservation property builds off an additional 1,400 acres owned by TRLT and known as their Two Rivers Property.

    This new conservation land is located near the confluence of the South Yadkin and Yadkin Rivers and consists of mature hardwoods which are home to a variety of wildlife, including neotropical migratory songbirds. This site provides important connectivity for wildlife as it builds upon a large base of already protected land.

    Earlier this year, TRLT transferred a 10-acre property with a boating access area to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) which is named in honor of the Crowther family.

    For more information on TRLT go to Three Rivers Land Trust


    With all the rainfall this spring, how does Cube Hydro Carolinas handle the influx of rainwater from the river up north?

    The High Rock powerhouse is integral with the dam and is located immediately downstream of the intake structure. The powerhouse contains three vertical Francis turbine units directly connected to generators. High Rock produces a long-term average generation of 141,660 megawatt-hours of clean electricity per year, enough to power 13,621 homes. High Rock Lake is operated to keep water levels within 4 foot of full pond between April 1 to October 31; and within 10 feet of full pond between November 1 and March 31. The average expected lake level during our ’recreation season’ is projected to be approx. 2 ½ feet below full pond.


    The Yadkin Riverkeeper’s (YRK) goals are to ensure clean drinking water and a healthy, safe Yadkin River for the benefit of all the basin’s nearly 3 million residents.

    The YRK educates and informs its membership and the public about the importance of the Yadkin River to our region’s economy and environment. While monitoring and sampling the river and feed lakes for pollution, it also alerts officials and the public about threats to our waterways.

    North Carolina’s rapid population growth, particularly in the Triad region, is having a profound impact on the Yadkin River. This unprecedented growth impacts local drinking water supplies driving up treatment costs.  

    I asked Brian Fannon, Ph.D., Yadkin Riverkeeper how homeowners can be good stewards of our environment, no matter where you live.

    Fannon shared two rules of thumb:

    1. If it does not need to be cut, do not cut it.
    2. If there is not something growing, plant something. Preferably a native plant.

    “Planting or keeping trees and shrubs along the shoreline will slow down erosion. This is a positive pursuit any landowner can engage in. Living on the lake or not, having vegetation is the best activity that collectively we can make for a huge difference over time. You will see your shoreline change, for the better,” shared Fannon.

    “Many lake residents want to cut down trees to enhance their lake views. The best way to keep your view and shoreline is to have a plan before you start removing trees, simply by adding low ‘shrubby’ plants such as willows, silky dogwoods, and elderberry. These small native plants can be trimmed for lake views, all the while being the best erosion defense with a good, solid root system. Native plants are also an important part of our ecosystem, providing food and shelter for bees, birds, and small animals.

    We have so much imperious areas adjacent to our bodies of water such as parking lots and buildings, we need vegetation and trees to slow down the water and rain runoff. Plants are nine times out of 10 the better choice as they take care of themselves. Many folks opt for rocks to shore up their banks however, rocks still need maintenance and can shift with storms and high water.”

    For more information, please go to the Yadkin Riverkeeper website Yadkin Riverkeeper


    • Bridge Clean Up/Earth Day, April 17-18
    • Rowan County Creek Week, August 21-28
    • High Rock Lake Clean Sweep September 18

    Enjoy the lake and all that it has to offer.

     I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2021. Please email me at

     #itsaROCOthing     #lakeliving    #YourRowan   #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake   #LakeLife

  • 27 Mar 2021 9:03 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Mar 10, 2021 | High Rock Lake

    High Rock Lake Litter – We Need To Be Aware, Come Together and Clean

    With the warm weather approaching, it seems like I am out driving around a bit more and, with that, have noticed a great uptick in roadside trash. I am talking about specific areas that are close by or on the way to the lake shore and coves. I cannot fathom why someone would simply dump trash including household items by creeks and inlets, including those busy highway stretches like Bringle Ferry Road crossing over Second Dutch Creek and Hwy. 52 in Rowan County, or Hwy. 8 and Jersey Church Rd Bridge crossing over Swearing Creek in Davidson County.

    High Rock Lake is the second largest lake in North Carolina and is fed by the Yadkin River several counties away. The river has the potential to draw in unwanted debris from cars passing by and rain run-off from homeowners’ yards and sadly, activities from everyday life.

    High Rock Lake has more than 300 miles of shoreline; the lake feeds into Badin and Tillery, respectively. The High Rock dam catches most of the debris which could remain in High Rock Lake. However, if we all work together to keep our litter – fast food wrappers, grocery bags, soda cans, and more, off the roads, this debris will not end up in the lake. This litter problem is county and state-wide and is easily controllable. We can control our own bad habits. Which really bothers me as it something simple we can change.

    The bottom line is this: if trash falls near the lake, it will end up in the lake.

    One local agency that has a vested interest in keeping High Rock Lake clean is the Yadkin Riverkeeper.

    logo for Yadkin RiverkeeperEdgar Miller, Executive Director said, “Our biggest concern is the amount of trash being found on the roads, creeks and rivers. With all the rain that we have experienced recently, our lakes have accumulated debris that is bad for recreation, our wildlife, and the safety of boaters and others. Having a large-scale coordinated lake clean up on High Rock is important for the local community and we are happy to support those efforts,” continued Miller. April 17 – 18 is scheduled for the annul Great Yadkin Bridge Clean up with a focus on major bridges throughout the Yadkin basin.

    logo for the Great Yadkin River Bridge CleanupThe Yadkin Riverkeeper is a nonprofit, membership organization whose mission is to protect and enhance the Yadkin Pee Dee River basin through education, advocacy, and action. The overarching goals are to ensure clean drinking water and a healthy, safe Yadkin River for the benefit of all the basin’s nearly 3 million residents. Education and information to the membership and the general public is the utmost importance of the river to the region’s economy and environment.

    For more information go to:


    litter cleanup bag alongside roadRecently, Highway Cleanup Act 2021 has been introduced to the General Assembly. If passed, litter violators will be fined twice as much as under the past law. Fines will go from no less than $250 and no more than $1,000, to no less than $500 and no more than $2,000 for the first violation, and from no less than $500 and no more than $2,000, to a fine of no less than $1,000 and no more than $4,000 for subsequent violations.

    “It’s extremely difficult to identify and catch violators. That’s why ‘Adopt A Highway’ programs are so important. Our Department of Transportation (DOT) workers cannot get to our many county wide roads to pick up what has been either unexpectedly lost or purposely dumped off. Davidson County has several convenience centers for county residents. It is a shame that they are not utilized properly. With our growing population, it means more trash,” said Davidson County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman, Todd Yates.

    Rowan County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Greg Edds shared, “As the lake development picks up more and more, we have an increasing responsibility to make sure we keep the lake clean and healthy. The condition of our lake reflects our community. And we certainly want to promote a positive view of Rowan County.”


    Every September, volunteers from both counties that surround High Rock Lake gather at two collection sites.

    lopgo for the High Rock Lake clean sweep

    This year HRLCleanSweep is scheduled for Saturday, September 18, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Volunteers are encouraged to join the High Rock Lake Clean Sweep at one of two locations (N.C. Wildlife Rec Area Access areas); Southmont Access, Highway 8, Lexington and Dutch Second Creek, Bringle Ferry Road, Salisbury. Gloves, trash bags and plastic boat deck coverings will be distributed to volunteers free of charge thanks in part to a sponsorship from Cube Hydro Carolinas. You do not need to own property on the lake or have a boat. Volunteers without boats are encouraged to participate and will be shuttled to targeted coves for trash pick-up via pontoon boats or can work the various coves near boat launches and bridges. This will be a great way to meet neighbors, or simply those who enjoy the lake through fishing, kayaking, or just putting their toes in the water during the summer. This is a great opportunity for community service hours for students. HRLCleanSweep will validate community service hours for scouts and teenagers who are required to earn them. For more information, please go to the HRL Clean Sweep Facebook page for more information. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up in advance. 

    Two lake-affiliated non-profits organize the annual High Rock Lake Clean Sweep along with several community-minded volunteers that make up the steering committee. These non-profits work tirelessly on securing sponsorships and the necessary trash receptacles, as well as getting the word out to the public about the event.

    logo for the High Rock Lake AssociationOne of the non-profits is the High Rock Lake Association (HRLA), which is a volunteer board of directors navigating concerns of lake residents and recreational visitors alike. The HRLA’s mission statement since 1954: “To foster and promote the welfare of High Rock Lake and the Yadkin River.” “That is why this year we will be selling HRL tee shirts and the proceeds from all sales will go to the annual HRL CleanSweep and additional initiatives that we support to continue efforts in making HRL a resource that we are proud to share,” said Lee Snow, President HRLA.

    logo for High Rock Lake iver RatsThe second is the High Rock Lake River Rats, a 32-year non-profit organization that promotes environmental responsibility to High Rock Lake and has been active in caring for the lake as a clean recreational resource for all to use.




    Homeowner Associations (HOAs) are a great resource to be a part of the greater good. One such HOA has organized its effort of cleaning a two mile stretch of Long Ferry Road quarterly. This grassroots activity is in its fourth year. “This is our neighborhood volunteer effort but is also social. We start off with coffee and donuts at 8 AM and work in two-man teams. We normally have up to 18 of our neighbors join and we are done in an hour. This effort keeps the entrance to our neighborhood beautiful and we feel like we are doing something positive for the community,” said Cindy Hart, a long-time resident of High Rock Lake. “And roadside clean-up is already socially distanced.”

    volunteers in litter cleanup

    Recently, while driving along Richfield Road on the way to the lake, I noticed about 12 people picking up trash along a four-mile stretch. I stopped to inquire who they were and how this effort came to be. The family and neighbor-friends live along this country road which is pitted with household trash and fast food discarded bags. Not only is it unsightly, but it is also a danger to wild animals picking through the debris looking for an easy meal, and thus possible road hazards for passing vehicles. This group has taken this chore onto themselves for two reasons, to be environmentally responsible and in memory of their daughter who lost her life four years ago to spinal bifida. My best regards to this extended family and their continued efforts.



    logo for Rowan County Creek Week

    There are many scheduled activities in our communities, including Rowan County Creek Week. The third annual Creek Week is a week-long celebration of local waters throughout North Carolina. The Rowan Creek Week will take place August 21-28, 2021. In conjunction with multiple environmental organizations and local municipal departments, Creek Week offers recreational, educational, and volunteer opportunities to allow everyone to enjoy and contribute to healthy waters in our area.

    From guided hikes, kayak trips, and stream clean-ups, to DIY workshops, historical presentations, and animal programs, each event is an opportunity to educate residents and to build awareness around the importance of our water resources. Stay tuned for more information or subscribe to the Creek Week Calendar to receive updates as events are added.

    “This ongoing effort will improve water quality in the long run for all of us. We all live in a watershed and need to respect our environment and all outdoor activities,” said Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation, Kelli Isenhour, Education Coordinator.


    Keep Davidson County Beautiful Litter Cleanup

    Keep Davidson County Beautiful is an official Adopt-A-Highway program partnership with NCDOT.

    logo for Keep Davidson County Beautiful

    At Keep Davidson County Beautiful, its mission is to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. We envision a county where every community is a clean, green, beautiful place to live. Through a variety of county wide programs and initiatives with our local governments and partner organizations, the goal is to engage volunteers in our effort to end littering, improve recycling, and beautify Davidson County’s communities.

    “Litter is more than just a blight on our landscape. Litter is costly to clean up, impacts our quality of life and economic development, and eventually ends up in our waterways. We have instituted ‘Pop Up Clean Up’ events along several stretches of roadways. They are just one hour time commitments,” said Many Kiser, North Davidson Parks and Recreation Commission Member.

    Among our many initiatives, the Keep Davidson County Beautiful Litter Index and Community Appearance Index are step-by-step methods of assessing current litter conditions and other indicators which are used in thousands of communities and by municipalities nationwide. Today, we are as committed as ever to providing people with the resources to help prevent litter with the ultimate goal of helping to end littering in Davidson County.

    To report litter and illegal dumping in Davidson County, you can access the Davidson County Government website’s Citizen Request on Litter.

    If you have an interest in forming a volunteer group in your community to partner with Keep Davidson County Beautiful, please email us at,

    “We are looking to build up our volunteer base,” continued Kiser. Our social media campaign and Facebook page @keepdavidsoncountybeautiful has been amazing with getting the word out, especially with the Pop Up Clean Ups.”

    With many ongoing community efforts, a solution to our litter problem is in progress and we can use your help. Reach out to one of these many listed organizations to learn how you can help.

    I hope you enjoy the lake and be safe out there.


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2021. Please email me at

     #itsaROCOthing         #lakeliving      #YourRowan  #BeAnOriginal   #HighRockLake  #LakeLife

  • 23 Feb 2021 7:56 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Feb 18, 2021 | High Rock Lake

    High Rock Lake Birds of a Feather

    I appreciate the varied species of birds that makes High Rock Lake their home. I marvel at the sheer volume of waterfowl during certain seasons, how they navigate amongst themselves, even in heavy wind, swoop down to grab a fish out of the lake for dinner and stay warm during these cold months. We are lucky to have Eagle Point in prime view with many sightings of great blue heron, blue and white egrets, even American white pelicans, and of course bald eagles, among many other species of ducks and gulls.


    The one thing I have not given any thought to was duck hunting, before writing this blog I never thought much about it, except for a few Saturday mornings when I hear LOTS of gun shots. So that got me wanting to learn what the noise was all about so to speak; and why are these folks killing those cute ducks frolicking around my dock?

    I met Drew Cornelison, our Rowan County area Ducks Unlimited chairman at the HRLCleanSweep last year and figured he would be the perfect interview for me to learn about the waterfowl of High Rock Lake. My starting point is that I call all flying and/or floating birds – ducks! I certainly do not know the difference between cormorants, coots, wood ducks, and mallards.

    I’ve also heard from a few lake residents that coots are taking over the lake, eating the fish. So, I set off with my 20-plus questions for Drew on duck hunting. My research resulted that duck hunting is certainly more than just hunting, its conservation and education, and giving back to the eco-system. By the way, the black ducks with the white bills are coots, the taller, leaner fish eaters are cormorants. “Currently there is an abundance of cormorants, we can’t hunt them and it affects the ecosystem, including a decline in the fish stock here at High Rock,” shared Cornelison.

    The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission grants hunting licenses which are $100 each, plus a required $25 federal duck stamp that supports the federal conservatory. The commission sets the hunting regulations: no Sundays, no hens, and no size limits during the three season splits which is fours days in October, two weeks at the end of November/early December and three weeks at the end of January. “COVID actually increased the hunting activity these past few months with more hunters going out during the week since working remotely has become our new normal. Although there isn’t a set of written rules, knowledgeable hunters stay 300 yards from homes and docks, it’s just common courtesy,” commented Cornelison.

    Although the 2020/2021 duck hunting season is over, I wanted to share the dates as they are generally the same each year so we can be prepared for the activity on the lake.

    The hunting of all migratory game birds (waterfowl, doves, rails, etc.) is regulated by the federal government under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Each year, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services establishes hunting season guidelines or frameworks. These include season length, bag limits, shooting hours, and the range of hunting dates. States may set their seasons within these frameworks. Although the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has ultimate authority for establishing seasons, the process is a collaborative one involving state game and fish agencies as well. For many years, the annual regulations cycle was divided into two components. The early cycle involved the setting of waterfowl seasons that begin prior to late September (September Canada goose and September teal seasons) and seasons for many webless species (doves, rails, woodcock). The late regulations cycle includes the traditional waterfowl seasons occurring after late September. Regulatory decisions for all species will occur on the same schedule and seasons will be set in the spring of each year prior to the upcoming hunting seasons.

    For additional information on waterfowl hunting, visit or call 1-800-675-0263. or send inquiries to

    Cornelison explained and shared pictures of how the Rowan County Ducks Unlimited chapter has been providing wood duck nesting boxes throughout the lake. There are approximately 80 boxes situated on High Rock Lake. Each February members clean out the boxes, refurbish with fresh bedding and check on the boxes every three weeks. Some nests will show up to 12- 18 eggs per box by the end of March/early April. Last season more than 185 eggs were identified.

    Cornelison shared that many sportsmen who frequent our lake are Ducks Unlimited members. There mantra is to ‘use the lake, give back, and clean up after yourself,’ while also taking the opportunity to teach the next generation about hunting and boating safety and why it’s important to assist the population growth and management of waterfowl. “We teach our younger hunters that they need to know their waterfowl, buy a book, watch videos, learn the species by their flight. Ask for help from experienced hunters. And be safe! Accidents happen especially when you combine boats and guns. If you are not sure of what you are doing, stay home!”


    The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission urges waterfowl hunters to practice safety and to share their boat with someone new to hunting. “Mentoring someone is a great way to pass along the rich tradition of waterfowl hunting in North Carolina,” said Chet Clark, the Commission’s recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) manager. “The memories you create while sharing your knowledge with a new waterfowl hunter can last a lifetime.”

    While mentoring a new hunter, it’s important to remember the Commission’s Home From The Hunt™ campaign and share basic safety precautions while hunting from a vessel. “Boating accidents can occur in a split second, so it’s important to be prepared,” said Clark. “Hunters should wear clothing made of wool or other synthetic materials instead of cotton to help prevent hypothermia. And, as always, wear a personal floatation device.”

    The Commission also reminds hunters:

    • Always let someone know your whereabouts and an approximate return time.
    • Be aware that small, flat-bottom vessels are prone to capsizing and swamping.
    • Store equipment properly and keep it evenly distributed.
    • Do not overload the boat, especially with passengers.
    • Keep hunting dogs prone in the center of the boat.
    • Never move about the boat with a loaded shotgun.
    • Stay with the boat and use it as a floatation device in the event of capsizing or swamping.


    Each February, young hunters are given the opportunity to try their hand with a mentor to learn best practices on two given Saturdays (February 6 and 13, 2021), to hunt ducks, geese, brant, tundra swans, mergansers, and coots. Youth must have a valid permit if hunting tundra swans and Canada geese. Youth under age 16 are exempt from the requirement of a hunting license provided they comply with the following:

    • Youth who have not obtained a Certificate of Competency showing their completion of the hunter safety course must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult when hunting.
    • Youth who have obtained a Certificate of Competency, may hunt without being accompanied by an adult, but must carry their certificate while hunting.
    • Youth under age 16 are exempt from the requirement of a trapping license.


    Did you know Rowan County has an outdoor environmental club? It is taught by Kelli Isenhour, Rowan County Soil and Conservation who gives first-hand experiences to our upper elementary and middle school students on improving water quality through testing and erosion studies, and respecting our natural resources which include soil, water and animals that call our lake and forest home. One major undertaking for the group is building wood duck boxes for Ducks Unlimited to set out in late winter. “We all live in a watershed, we need to respect it for many reasons,” said Isenhour.


    Ducks Unlimited is a grassroots, volunteer-based non-profit organization. Its members are conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts who live primarily throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Ducks Unlimited got its start in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows. Determined not to sit idly by as the continent’s waterfowl dwindled beyond recovery, a small group of sportsmen joined together to form an organization that became known as Ducks Unlimited.

    The mission: habitat conservation. Thanks to more than 80 years of abiding by that single mission, Ducks Unlimited is now the world’s largest and most effective private, nonprofit, waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization. Waterfowl are not the only beneficiaries of DU’s habitat work. Wetlands improve the overall health of our environment by recharging and purifying groundwater, moderating floods, and reducing soil erosion. Wetlands are North America’s most productive ecosystems, providing critical habitat to more than 900 wildlife species and invaluable recreation opportunities for people to enjoy.

    Enjoy the lake sights and sounds and be safe out there.

    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2021. Please email me at

    #itsaROCOthing #lakeliving #YourRowan   #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake   #LakeLife

  • 10 Feb 2021 5:35 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Jan 15, 2021 | Business CommunityHigh Rock Lake

    Lake Dining Options Make Big Impact to the Community

     As we progress into the new year, how can we, as individuals, make a difference for small businesses in Rowan County?

    Although January is notorious for being the soft month in the restaurant business and adding in the new state regulations prohibiting alcohol sales after 9 p.m., our High Rock Lake restaurants are counting on the good people of Rowan County more than ever.

    I wanted to put my money where my mouth is, so over the New Year holiday weekend my husband and I joined our neighbors and ventured out for brunch at Waters Edge Dock and Grill, 257 Boat Club Lane, Salisbury. We enjoy the updated look of a clean, industrial vibe of the lakeside restaurant; I was anxious to try the Bloody Mary bar, and was not disappointed. All of us enjoyed our brunch orders and raved about the eggs benedict, smothered chicken, Monte Cristo sandwich, and pontoon poppers. And worth a mention from one of our dining companions, where can you order a Monte Cristo sandwich, done right? Yes, right here on High Rock Lake!

    The menu is a must try. The restaurant’s ‘vibe’ is original for Rowan County – casual, upscale dining offering steaks, seafood, shrimp & grits, with a variety of eclectic items like poutine, Wisconsin cheese curds, and coconut shrimp. Waters Edge offers pizza, wings, fries, and burgers of course for lunch, dinner, or late-night fare.


    Co-owners Mikey Wetzel and Todd Littleton purchased the former High Rock Boat and Ski Club building in November 2019 with plans to rebrand and refresh the lakeside restaurant.

    The vision was to create the premier waterfront dining experience on our very own High Rock Lake. The rebrand incorporated a name change that says exactly what the restaurant is – water’s edge, with a much different feel from the former establishment, the logo featuring vintage water skiers. The entire dining room and bar area was moved to have panoramic views of the lake. Isn’t that why we want to frequent a lake side restaurant?

    Diners can come by boat or car, so you do not need to live on the lake to come out and appreciate the water views of the state’s second largest lake. By the way, if you are coming from West Rowan it is a 20-minute car ride, and much less from downtown.

    The original plan was to keep the restaurant open for its local patrons during the renovation. However, as the saying goes, best laid plans get turned around. The kitchen needed a complete reno and new equipment. The $50,000 budget eventually turned into $700,000 with new restrooms, garage doors all along the outside walls for a full outdoor ambiance, a larger bar, a 1,000 sq. foot event space, and new roof.


    Due to the co-owners’ high standards, the restaurant was closed throughout the construction and had its much-anticipated opening in July 2020. “Our goal with Waters Edge was to introduce quality food, a different menu, and great entertainment to a broader audience; we want families to come out and have pizza night. Or we can be a fun date night. With our entertainment line-up we hope to entice those from outside of Rowan County to take a short drive over to the lake, it will be well worth it.

    We are marketing Waters Edge as a ‘destination’ for dining; we want you to come in, try our food, catch up with friends and/or family. We have a game room with pool tables and a few other games. We have spaced our dining room to adhere to socially-distanced guidelines, accommodating 120 seats out of a normal occupancy of 300, and all of our staff are wearing masks as required by the state mandates,” said Wetzel.

    The restaurateurs are just getting started, with 12 acres of property; the long-term goal is for Waters Edge to be open seven days a week serving lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks. Soon there will be a four-bedroom Airbnb on property, with lots of other ideas on paper for the future.


    Although Waters Edge opened during unprecedented times, the summer season was a success. “Summer 2020 showed us the investment was sound. We did decent business because of the lake traffic. We have two docks and saw lots of boaters come over to grab lunch and enjoy the views from our deck. Some even had food to-go to enjoy the rest of the afternoon on their boats. We still need to market ourselves to a wider audience. We want all demographics to be comfortable coming here.”

    What is Waters Edge doing to accommodate those that prefer to dine at home? “We can do a take-out, but not all food works well as a ‘to-go’ item. We want our food to be consistently good and if our burger and fries travel in a ‘clam shell’ carton it may not be eaten at the level of our expectations. We have a ton of pizza being picked up for home consumption. That pizza oven is paying for itself. And let me tell you the stuffed mushrooms and cookie skillet dessert are done to perfection.”

    We have 40 employees working here, all local Rowan County residents, and I have to say it is taking lots of blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of hope. Hindsight may serve that this venture may not have been the perfect time to open a restaurant, re-establish it with the lake scene, and not be eligible for PPP loans. Businesses seeking a loan must demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross revenue between one comparable quarter in 2019 and 2020. Well, being a new establishment, that locked Waters Edge out of the COVID relief fund.

    “I guess looking back we didn’t need to rock the boat, Todd’s City Tavern is doing well, I’m good with Go Burrito, and here we have our new place. I don’t want to say how much we have lost because of the pandemic. But there are a ton of folks in our shoes and we can only keep doing what we do. We recently bought a billboard on I-85 in Salisbury pointing the direction to the lakeside restaurant. We know this will be a winning venture.”


    With Waters Edge as the only full-service bar outside of the Salisbury city limits in Rowan County, per state law, customers consuming alcohol must be a member of the establishment. Memberships are $1 and it is simply a formality from a time gone by, but it’s a law sanctioned by each county and/or municipality, so the restaurant must implement the membership request.

    Memberships do not have a qualifier such as lake resident, a specific zip code or any other restriction. “Anyone who enjoys fresh food, wants to stay awhile, and participate in our varied entertainment offerings as music bingo on Thursdays, live entertainment every Friday and Saturday, and karaoke on Sundays is welcomed at Waters Edge,” continued Wetzel. However, as of December 11, Governor Roy Cooper implemented an earlier curfew for onsite alcohol consumption sales, moving the cutoff to 9 p.m. for bars and restaurants. Just as many other states have mandated, Cooper’s curfew is an attempt to stem the rising tide of positive COVID-19 cases seen across N.C.

    Wetzel, who also owns Go Burrito in downtown Salisbury, said restaurants must do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but he is concerned that the new regulations will be “little death knells for parts of the business. Normally, we book musicians for entertainment after the dinner rush, from 9 – 11 p.m. It’s a bit of a juggling act, booking decent entertainment with lighter crowds who may not come out for just a few hours with the bar sales stopping early. We may not be able to sustain the expense of added entertainment during a shorter time frame. And it’s difficult to enjoy dinner and have a conversation with music scheduled for earlier in the evening.”


    I would be remiss in not mentioning Lakeview Family Restaurant at Second Dutch Creek, 9185 Bringle Ferry Road, Salisbury.

    New owners, Philip Hedrick and Jamie Peeler, took over the helm of the family restaurant in January 2020. What has changed in a year with COVID? Currently, the restaurant can accommodate 84 patrons, with social distancing. Curbside pickup is available, and several seniors have taken advantage of the service. Some of the menu items can be requested family style such as the Friday night special, ribs. There are several new menu items including mahi-mahi, steaks, fried oysters, and grilled salmon. Daily specials are featured on their Facebook page such as Fried Dipped Chicken on Wednesdays.

    Throughout the pandemic, Lakeview has kept its employees on and has seen an increase in new folks stopping by, likely driving around the lake, especially during the summer and early fall months. The restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesdays. Breakfast is available on weekends only during winter, 7 – 10:30 a.m., with lunch and dinner being served until 8 p.m.

    Between these two restaurants, whatever you are craving can be found. Let us help our Rowan County small business neighbors survive this time, one mouthful at a time. I hope to see you frequenting one of our lakeside restaurants. Enjoy the lake sights and sounds and be safe.

    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2021.

    Please email me at

    Special thanks to TKP Photography for generously taking and allowing us to use the photos in this blog post.

    #itsaROCOthing #lakeliving #YourRowan #BeAnOriginal #HighRockLake #LakeLife

  • 3 Jan 2021 6:18 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Dec 9, 2020 | GreenspaceHigh Rock Lake

    Winter Fishing at High Rock Lake


    So, you want to try your hand at winter fishing at High Rock Lake, and the only thing you need to be aware of is your wardrobe, right? Wrong.

    The winter months, particularly December through February, are the best times to fish for striped bass in lakes across North Carolina, and High Rock Lake has consistently been tops of the sportsman’s list, for those that know how to find the right spots. Fish eat year-round, so why wouldn’t we fish year-round? And the obvious observation, there is less congestion on the lake from fewer recreational crafts.

    I spoke with Maynard Edwards of Lexington’s Yadkin Lakes Guide Service recently to get my winter fishing facts straight from someone who has more than 25 years of fishing guide experience here, is licensed in North Carolina as a guide, and to top it off, is a certified coast guard captain.

    Boat Winter fishing on High Rock Lake

    An astute angler finds schools of forage fish, knowing that bass, stripers, and other predators are not far away. As the saying goes, “Find the bait, and you will catch the fish.” Primary baitfish are shad, which prefer warm shallow waters and attract largemouth bass. Knowing that, anglers search out the water depth and temperature preferred by the baits of their target species. Once located, they fish the area thoroughly.


    In winter, water temperature is one force that drives bait and predator fish from one place to another. Warmer is usually better, and extreme cold can change the dynamics of fishing. “If the water temperature drops below 40 degrees, stay home,” he said. “The fish won’t bite.”

    By the end of December, Edwards will spend most of his time in Flat Swamp, Abbotts, and Crane creeks. “The best areas are Flat Swamp and Abbotts,” he said. “I don’t go into Crane Creek unless it gets really cold.” Edwards said the winter months are excellent for catching big stripers, which run from 10 to 15 pounds. Because stripers prefer 55-degree water, winter is the top time to pursue them at High Rock Lake. They usually don’t grow to trophy sizes, but even medium-size fish can put a significant bend in a rod,” Edwards said. “Anything 10 pounds or better is a real good striper. Twenty-pounders aren’t unheard of but aren’t a normal thing.”

    “Good striper fishing usually begins at High Rock in December, but it may crank up in late November if it’s cold enough,” said Edwards. “I look for circling and diving gulls or birds sitting on the water. “It’s not a bad idea to go where birds are sitting on the water. I’d definitely go to such a place if I couldn’t find any flying. In either case, they’re looking for bait.”

    Aerial View High Rock Lake

    In January, when water temperatures at or near freezing, hordes of shad are trapped in the shallows. Eventually, they are stressed, die, and are eaten by bass, perch, and stripers. Anglers tried to snatch stripers from under sea birds that were feeding on the dying shad, but mostly they’ll catch catfish.


    Edwards laughs when he hears anglers complain when Cube Hydro/Eagle Creek Renewable Energy drops High Rock’s level in winter since it operates as a hydroelectric plant.

    “The winter drawdown used to be 15 feet, but the last three or four years they haven’t dropped it significantly,” he said. “Some people fuss and cuss, but, hey, it’s like this — when the lake goes down, the stripers have fewer places to hide. The less water you must cover, the better chance to catch fish. If the water is up, (stripers) will go into the creeks and stay there because that’s where the baitfish will be.”

    Winter lake level drawdown is good for spring/summer fishing too. It allows the banks to create new life forms which sustains our fish, such as bugs, worms, and grass. So, when the water level is back up in the summer it’s a like a sushi bar for the fish.

    “The fall bite wasn’t great. We had more than our share of rain from hurricanes which keeps High Rock Lake with higher water than normal.”


    Catfish Cove at High Rock Lake

    Catfish Cove at High Rock Lake

    Once he settles on an area that looks promising, Edwards uses a technique he calls “strolling” — slow-trolling baits and lures.
    “I’d rather have live bait that time of year,” he said. “Once I get in an area with baitfish, I want to put my baits under baitfish schools on the surface.”

    When he “strolls” for striped bass, Edwards wants to cover a wide swath of water. His terminal tackle includes Waterbugz planer boards and rigs built with a 1/8-ounce weight in front of a swivel, three feet of leader and a 3/0 to 4/0 circle hook. He’ll put out two or three rods with planer boards.

    “I’ll put out 30 feet of line then add a planer board to send it out (to the side),” Edwards said. “The weight is just enough to keep the bait under the surface. The (baitfish) will find his own depth with (the boat) only moving at .08 – 1 MPH.

    “I also put out two float (surface) rods out the back with ready-release floats, then I’ll use some down lines,” he said. “I like this arrangement because if you want to stop you can. You can’t do that with artificial lures (that sink to the bottom).”

    Edwards’ float rods use the same terminal tackle — except for 2- to 3-ounce lead weights.

    “I set one to run eight feet deep and one to run 12 feet deep,” he said. Edwards puts floats on the line with slip knots so he’s always sure the depths his lures are running. “I’ll let one out 50 feet behind the boat and another 75 to 100 feet back,” he said. He’ll also places a down rod at each corner of his boat.

    “I run (baits) at four depths,” he said. “The front rods will have eight to 10 feet of line out while the back (baits) will be 16 to 20 feet behind the boat.” He uses line-counter reels so he can set his line lengths correctly.

    “They’re easy to adjust,” Edwards said. “I run about 10 rods, but I have put out as many as 12 rods if I’ve got three clients aboard. They keep up with the rods.”


    If live bait is not available, Edwards will pull artificials. “I know a lot of people pull a 3- or 4-inch artificial shad with a paddle tail, but if I’m using artificials, I like Zoom Swimming Flukes — the big ones, 5-inches long. They’re slender, and I think they look halfway like a herring.”

    Edwards said sometimes he switches tactics for variety.

    “I still troll bucktails, but lemme tell you, I also like Alabama rigs,” he said. “If I’m pulling artificials, you can bet there are two Alabama rigs in the mix.”

    Edwards, who makes his own 5-arm Alabama rigs, goes at it a little differently than most anglers, opting for light weights. His trolling rods are spooled with 40-pound braided line connected to the Alabama rigs by way of a 140-pound dual-lock Super Snap that is mated to the braid with an improved clinch knot.

    “I also have some 1/8-ounce lures I use for casting,” he said. “I’ll cast from January through March. You never know if you will catch a largemouth or striper. Sometimes I cast bucktails.”

    Winter Fishing Gulls Boat on High Rock Lake, NC


    Slow-trolling live baits with gizzard shad or artificial lures such as Alabama rigs, bucktails, Striper Swiper jigs, Zoom Swimming Flukes or Z-Man paddle tail lures. Tackle includes 61/2- to 7-foot, medium-action rods and reels spooled with 40-pound braid. Keep speed at 1.5 – 2.5 MPH for best results when using artificial lures.

    When fish are deep or scattered throughout the water column, Edwards slow-trolls at 11/2 mph with six 7-foot, medium/heavy rods, setting four rods out at the back of the boat with reels spooled with lead-core line. Two other rods, one on each side of the boat, carry planer boards for fishing shallow water.

    “Each color of the lead-core line puts the baits — usually shallow- to medium-running crankbaits, Sassy Shad plastics or bucktails — about 7 feet deep,” said Edwards. “I usually let out about two colors or slightly more.”

    When Edwards uses bucktails, he employs a double rig with a 3-way swivel.

    He likes to run the planer boards close to steep banks using 15- to 20-pound monofilament with shallow-running crankbaits at the business end. He said the best fishing takes place when the water temperature ranges from the lower 40s to the 50s.

    Edwards has caught stripers under both sunny and cloudy skies and adjusts his approach accordingly. “When it’s cloudy, fish the deep banks along the creek,” he said. “When it’s sunny, fish the shallow bank. For example, upon entering Flat Swamp, fish the deeper, right-hand side of the creek on cloudy days; fish the opposite side on sunny days.”

    “The little things often make the difference between catching fish or just fishing.”

    For all the deep-water anglers out there, High Rock is your kind of lake. The bass aren’t shy in the stained waters of this reservoir in the heart of the state. High Rock is a bass factory year-round, but it hits peak in the heat of summer when the bass move out deep. May through October you can find schools of largemouth bass stacked on offshore humps and ledges.

    “On sunny days in the winter, crappie move up, and I’ve caught them in 4 feet of water around islands,” he said.
    That 30-degree variance in water temperatures is the major reason why the state’s second largest manmade impoundment is such a great winter fishery.


    To schedule a fishing charter with Maynard Edwards, Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, call 336-249 -6782,  


    A few excerpts taken from Carolina Sportsman, 2017.


    I hope to see you all out on the lake! From a distance.


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2021. Please email me at

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