Joyce on the Lake

  • 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

  • 2 Nov 2020 5:03 PM | Caron-Mercier (Administrator)

    What is with the lake levels?  I heard that question a ton when I first moved to High Rock Lake. I was warned by folks not living on the lake that every winter the water level is so low that you can drive your truck or jeep out past your dock. “You should see the pictures from 2002.” Well, that is old news and by the way, 2002 was the year the entire southeast was in a drought. Rowan County’s High Rock Lake was not an anomaly. 

  • 7 Oct 2020 5:05 PM | Caron-Mercier (Administrator)

    Where does all this stuff come from?   I cannot tell you how many times I heard that question on September 19th during the 3rd Annual High Rock Lake Clean Sweep. I was stationed at Dutch Second Creek starting at 7 a.m. that Saturday – there to give out latex gloves, trash bags, plastic boat coverings, and masks to our volunteers. Yes, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping HRL clean is important.

  • 29 Sep 2020 7:00 AM | Caron-Mercier (Administrator)

    High Rock Lake residents and visitors know we have a special place for boating, fishing, jet skiing and the like, and we have a couple of options for food and necessary supplies for an enjoyable outing on the state’s second largest lake. 

  • 21 Sep 2020 3:07 PM | Caron-Mercier (Administrator)

    Can you believe it has been six months since the COVID-19 pandemic knocked on our door and gave us new buzz words like pivot, re-imagine, social distancing, the 3-Ms and more? Back in April, we had thoughts of getting back to normal, planning our summer vacations, cookouts and just doing what we enjoy, being with family and friends. Now, plans are called “one day at a time”, and after all those days, where did the summer go?

  • 9 Jul 2020 12:33 PM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Jul 6, 2020 | High Rock Lake

    Together We Got This

    2020 is half over. The July 4 holiday is one that many of us will not soon forget. Our traditional celebrations with our friends and families have changed, our anticipated plans of attending concerts, movie theaters, sporting events, and simply just gathering at a park or beach, have been thrown out the window. Thoughts about our independence as a nation, and what it means to each of us, has become personal, yet relevant in everyday conversation and promotes either a sense of pride or inquiry.  We wonder how our lives have changed and will continue to do so for the remainder of the year.  A simple meal out at a local restaurant or even hosting friends and family inside air-conditioned homes now need to be within certain state or county guidelines.

    Still, I am thankful for what our country stands for – living in the land of the free and the brave. Which includes our front-line workers; let us stand #AloneTogether!


    Who won this big guy for the High Rock Lake July 4 Dock Decorating Contest? Keep reading to find out!


    The Rowan Chamber’s Dragon Boat Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19, another activity that we had to scrap this strange year. I do want to share how much pre-event thought and best practices for safety operations the Dragon Boat committee worked on.

    After monthly meetings with the committee, led by 2020 committee chair, Daniel Matangira, the plan was to continue the event on High Rock Lake; however, without spectators. A smaller number of entered Dragon Boat teams would compete and each team (less than 25 people) would be spaced six feet apart from other teams. Only the official Dragon Boat participants would be allowed onto the property. Plans were coming together for the championship finale race to be live streamed for community watch parties.  A take on the Kentucky Derby’s four minutes of excitement. The Rowan Chamber staff even measured out the locations for vendors, teams and how the traffic flow would work, with proper distancing, additional hand sanitizing units, and cleansing of boats, paddles and life jackets were in the works. But atlas, not. 


    Rowan Shrine Club members hard at work!


    “This year’s event would have looked different, but due to current North Carolina restrictions, we decided in the best interest of our competitors, sponsor partners, and vendors, we had to cancel the event. We thank our sponsors including Novant Health, Trinity Oaks, and Hot Wire Communications; teams and especially our volunteers for working with us as our plans changed and changed again. The Dragon Boat Festival will go on in 2021, Saturday, July 24 and it will be well worth the wait,” said Chamber President Elaine Spalding. 

    The 2021 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival will be held at the Rowan Shrine Club on High Rock Lake at 6480 Long Ferry Road, Salisbury, NC.  For more information check out their website.



    High Rock Lake Association continued its efforts on showcasing its lakeside residents’ creativity surrounding a patriotic theme. The second annual July 4 Holiday dock decorating contest winner was awarded to Yachtsman’s Point, Lexington residents, Kathi and Lennox McLendon. This year, the vote went to the HRLA community with an online poll through its online site. The McLendon’s clever dock design not only incorporated a patriotic theme but featured social distancing with six-foot distance measures and even face masks on a five-foot tall inflatable Uncle Sam, as well as Aunt Samantha and little Sammy. 


    Little Sammy having a blast in the sun. He’s also being safe and wearing his face mask! 


    “We are so excited to win. It was a lot of fun decorating the dock for the fourth, but we wanted a theme that would be relevant to people as they were boating by, so we chose ‘Stay Safe, Stay Healthy America,’ said Kathi McLendon. The winning dock is located just to the left of the N.C. Wildlife Access Area, Southmont by Hwy. 8. 


    Check out the winning dock for the High Rock Lake July 4 competition! Congratulations to the McLendon’s! 


    The HRLA dock decorating concept was created last year with 29 docks entering in the competition. The inaugural award, an antique wooden engraved oar, was given to Kris and Randy Hall of Salisbury, that was displayed on their dock the past year. The ‘traveling oar award’ will sit on the McLendon’s dock for the summer. The winning prize package will also include a $200 cash prize from HRLA and a $100 gift certificate from Lexington BBQ.


    Aunt Samantha very patriotic and following the governor’s face mask orders. Make sure you’re staying safe and wearing your mask everywhere you go! 


    “With COVID-19 and social distancing, we didn’t know what to expect on the level of participation,” said Board Vice President Membership, AnnMarie Clark. “I am thrilled that our lake community supports an activity such as this, and loves seeing the creativity with the various patriotic themes. At this unprecedented time, a fun distraction is what we all need,” continued Clark.

    HRLA board members who shepherded the annual event are Barry Childers, Ron Gibson, Rick Monk, Jim Noonan, Lee Snow, AnnMarie Clark and myself.


    Vice President At-Large, Barry Childers hands prize package envelope to Kathi and Lennox McLendon, from six feet away.



    I have received several emails and Facebook inquiries regarding no wake zones in front of lakeside residences. The N.C. Wildlife Commission recently released simple rules to be good stewards on the lake.

    While wake-boarding on the water this summer, please follow the guidelines below to “wake responsibly”:

    • Stay at least 200 feet away from the shoreline, docks, or other structures. 


    Stay safe this weekend out on your favorite lake! 


    • 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 others 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. There is so much more to see!

    I hope to see you all out on the lake…from a distance!

    And do not forget the sunscreen. July is UV Safety Awareness Month.


    Make sure you have all your sunscreen packed and ready to go!


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at


    #itsaROCOthing         #lakeliving      #YourRowan  #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake

  • 9 Jun 2020 10:56 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Jun 8, 2020 | High Rock Lake

    Let’s Take a Drive around High Rock Lake Together – But Separately

    It’s late spring/early summer, and the world’s pandemic is still at our doorstep. What most of us want is a sense of normalcy and many are slowly starting to venture out. But, what can we do that keeps us entertained, all while socially distancing?

    I decided to take a drive around High Rock Lake and share it with you. This can be a virtual tour; just read it and imagine the birds singing, motor boats in the distance, and children laughing at one of the picnic areas. Or, you can actually take the tour yourself and see firsthand what a beautiful lake we have right in our own backyard, and what fun it can be to discover new places with your family. #AloneTogether


    The view at Flat Swamp!


    Why did I think of a ride around the lake? Well growing up in Maine, there are several lakes and state parks that we could visit.  I grew up in the southern portion of the state and beaches by the ocean is where we normally headed. Yet, when the family wanted a simple Sunday drive, we had Lake Auburn as our getaway. Lake Auburn is similar to High Rock Lake as they both are reservoirs, with good fishing, but that is where the similarities end.

    We had just about one go-to local hang-out, Taber’s Restaurant Mini-Golf and driving range. We went for the ice cream, and that was about it, although it had great views of the lake. However, with a total area covering just 2,260 acres, our drive around the lake took 30 minutes for one full circle. Unlike HRL, Lake Auburn is closed to most recreational activities including ice fishing and swimming. Some of Maine’s most sought after fish species are found in the lake, including SalmonLake Trout, and Brook Trout. In recent years, Lake Auburn has also seen rising populations of warm water fish species such as Largemouth Bass and Chain Pickerel, which are now thriving in soft, shallow areas of the lake.


    High Rock Lake covers 15,180 acres with 360 miles of shoreline, although many of the coves are not accessible by car. Major arms of the lake are formed by numerous creeks including Flat Swamp, Abbotts, Buddle, Swearing, and North and South Potts in Davidson County; and Panther, Dutch Second, and Crane in Rowan County.  The main trunk’s widest point exceeds one mile.

    Since its construction, surrounding communities including Denton, Lexington, SalisburySouthmont, and Spencer, have enjoyed tremendous economic benefit through recreation driven by the lake.  High Rock has proven to be one of the outstanding sites in the southeast for inland sailing, power boating, and fishing.  In recent years, paddling has been added to the list with the designation of the Yadkin River State Canoe Trail which traverses the length of the lake along with the trail’s Daniel Boone Heritage section which terminates at the lake’s York Hill Access.


    Let’s take that trip together…err, I mean separately.

    My suggested starting point for our journey is Second Dutch Creek on Bringle Ferry Road with breakfast at Lakeview Family Restaurant. They have plenty of seating outside, as well as inside.  


    Stop by Lakeview Family Restaurant to get your favorite meals! They’re open Wednesday thru Saturday, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. 


    This is where you need to decide if this will be a sight-seeing excursion, a foodie tour of the restaurants on the lake, or perhaps research for a new fishing hole. 

    Head east toward Salisbury, Hill’s Minnow Farm will come up on your right, 2.5 miles down. Do you need bait, snacks or fuel? They have it. And if it’s a Saturday – it’s homemade ice cream! The peach ice cream is killer. Very fresh.

    Just another mile or so down is Dan Nicholas Park, for the extended journey, turn in. Did you know there is mini golf, a zoo, and hiking trails? Or keep that for your next family to do outing.

    Take a right onto Providence Church Road, about six miles down on the right is our highly anticipated new lakeside restaurant, Waters Edge Dock and Grill. You can come by car or boat. Can’t wait to check out the joint venture between Mikey Wetzel (Go Burrito) and Todd Littleton (City Tavern).


    Check out Waters Edge Dock & Grill. They will be opening soon to the public! #EatLocal


    Continue on, and Providence Church Road turns into Goodman Lake Road. Just over the bridge is a haven for fishing and there are a few parking spots waiting just for you.

    Just before you reach Long Ferry Road, look left and yes, there are TWO Zebras (statues, not real animals) in the front yard of a residence. I don’t know the story behind it, but it tickles me every time I drive by. Take a left onto Long Ferry Road. If you take a right, and continue to the end of the road, it’s the home of Salisbury Shrine Club, and the annual Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival. This year, the festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 25.

    Jump onto I-85 North, over Yakin River Bridge to exit 91, Hwy 8, which is Cotton Grove Road to your right. You will see signs for High Rock Lake. You are now in Lexington, Davidson County. I opted to travel up I-85 rather than going through Linwood on Hwy 47. But that is a lovely drive and will add 20 minutes to the tour.


    Check out this access at Flat Swamp! A great spot to have a nice picnic with friends and family.


    Now you have another big decision, a seafood lunch at Ocean View Seafood or BBQ at Speedy Lohrs? There is also Christo’s Original Pizza Buffet among others, including Old 64 Diner a few additional miles down Hwy 8.  #ShopLocal

    As you continue taking in the sights, I want to point out American Children’s Home.

    Did you know there are a few fundraisers by the River Rats non-profit organization to raise money for this foundation and other children’s focused initiatives? Check out their Facebook Page for additional information. Friday and Saturday, July 10-11 is their annual Poker Run in Abbott’s Creek (the little side of the lake).

    Continue on Hwy 8 East and take a stroll through High Rock Nursery Farm Stand, Linwood. Flowering plants, herbs, or fresh veggies are just waiting for you!

    Keep digging on Hwy 8 as you enter into Southmont and check out Rock Outdoors. If you own a boat, you will be in heaven! If you don’t, you may after your visit. This is a great place if you need fishing gear, personal flotation devices for your new visitors or even for your dog.

    And there is a coffee shop inside!


    Another great picnic spot. Pack up some veggies from your local farmer’s market stroll and pop a squat at the Southmont picnic tables.


    As you continue on your venture, High Rock Marina and campground will be a few miles out of the way, but they have ice cream! And great views of Abbott Creek.

    Backtracking to Hwy 8, a stop over is a must at the NC Wildlife Access Boat ramp, another great view with picnic areas and a good size boat launch.

    And if time, grab some food at Mazatlan Family Mexican Restaurant, a great place for lunch, or perhaps a date night later.

    You will continue over the Hwy 8 bridge, and then be at the Brown Loflin Bridge (Pebble Beach) into the town of Denton, featuring Flat Swamp Creek. I know the name doesn’t sound inviting, but this location has a beach and swimming access, a great place for a family picnic and swimming day trip.

    Check out Jacob Mabrey’s Gourmet Cotton Candy on Mountain Shore Dr. Call 336-300-4906 for more details.

    At Healing Springs VFD station 48, take a right onto Bringle Ferry Road.


    Wildlife Sign at the Bringle Ferry Road Access Area.


    By the way, these are the first responders that have the necessary emergency water vehicles if there is a large-scale accident while on the lake.

    Just before you cross over the bridge is the Tuckertown access ramp, a quiet place for fishing.  Although I am not sure if I am supposed to tell you about it. As they say, best kept secrets.

    As you cross over the Bringle Ferry Bridge and check out the Tuckertown Dam on your right – you can’t miss it, operated by Cube Hydro. And you are back in Rowan County!


    Look at her! The Tuckertown Basin Bridge. A perfect spot to watch cars pass by or if you look over to your left, you’ll see a great, big dam!


    There is a picnic area on the right with lots of parking, a great place for photos too!

    As you travel up the hill, on your left is Wyatt Grove Church Road, which takes you to Morgan Ridge Vineyards, just two miles down the road. Another #YourRowan excursion in the works.

    Continue on Bringle Ferry Road, you will see a sign for Eagle Point Nature Preserve on your right on Black Road. Admission is free and there is a great hiking trail that has two distance options depending on how much time or exercise is in the cards for you, especially in this social distancing time.

    And as you cross over the Bringle Ferry Bridge you are back where you started, but I would suggest pulling into Tamarac Marina and Restaurant. Perhaps more food with a beer?

    Our journey should have taken about two and a half to six hours, and is approximately 55 miles in length, unless you took me up on some of the side trips.

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


    Another peaceful view. Look at all that greenery! Mother Nature sure is beautiful.


    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at

  • 20 Apr 2020 5:50 AM | Anonymous member

    Posted by Joyce Caron-Mercier | Apr 15, 2020 | High Rock Lake

    Alone Together, Make it a Stay-cation

    Who knew when the month of April rolled in, not only would it bring spring weather, beautiful flowers but a new way of living and creating activities from a “stay at home” mandate. Now that many of us are working from home, we have time to stop and smell the roses, if no one else is doing the same thing at the same rose bush. #AloneTogether


    A Rowan County furry friend taking a load off on everyone’s favorite lake.


    I have received several emails and Facebook inquiries regarding if High Rock Lake is open for business – YES! Our gem right here in Rowan County is open for residents and visitors alike for boating, fishing, jet skiing, kayaking and the list goes on. I have seen several families enjoying our warm spring on pontoon boats and sadly have also witnessed those that are placing fun in the moment above being smart long-term and adhering to social distancing guidelines. N.C. Wildlife Commission recently released simple rules for boating in this new normal of trying to be good lake community members.


    A helpful chart to explain how to social distance when out boating.


    So, plan a day out on High Rock Lake with your immediate family. You can still order food for takeout from Lakeside Family Restaurant or Tamarac Marina and Grill, it will be fun to picnic on your boat.


    Even as social distancing is the new normal that we all are getting used to, don’t forget Wednesday, April 22nd is Earth Day and it’s the 50th anniversary. We can all still participate by enjoying the lovely scent of fresh air, clean up some litter in your own yard, neighborhood or park, plant a tree, or simply enjoy companionship with nature! Walk through the woods in search of emerging wildflowers and green moss. Go outside, no matter the weather!


    Someone’s taking advantage of the nice weather out on High Rock Lake!


    Events such as river or cove clean ups will take place, however since it’s a mid-week date, perhaps the weekend either before or after could work for you and your family. Visit or

    Celebrate Earth Day by appreciating and respecting the natural world. Here are some ideas to inspire you! (excerpt from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, March 2020)

    1. Plant wildflowers! Read our article on native wildflowers to plant in your garden. Also, see our video demonstrating how to grow wildflowers!
    2. Go native! Plants thrive best when they’re natural to your area. See our article on native plant landscaping and 10 tips for an eco-friendly garden.
    3. Bring nature into the garden with plants that attract butterflies and plants that attract hummingbirds!
    4. Invite native bees to your garden. These are the bees that pollinate your plants for more flowers and food! Perhaps add a native bee house to your backyard.
    5. Start an organic vegetable garden. Here are tips on organic seed-starting, and our Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening to get you started.
    6. Conserve water! See our tips for watering wisely in the garden and tips on how to create your own rain garden.
    7. Also, avoid over-watering. Know how much your garden really needs with our watering chart! Watch our video demonstrating 10 smart watering tips for a healthy garden.
    8. Clean up your community by picking up litter in a local park or roadway.
    9. Talk to your local government about planting more trees and native garden beds in public spaces or consider planting your own on your property! See advice on how to plant a tree as well as our video demonstrating how to plant a fruit tree.
    10. Cut back on plastic consumption!  See a Plastics Recycling Chart.
    11. Plus, consider how to reduce dependency on bottled water and drinks. Know what’s in all those bottled drinks!
    12. Recycle in the garden! See our videos on how to reuse plant pots and containers and other items you can recycle and reuse in the garden.
    13. Learn how to reuse in the kitchen and reuse in the home and re-purpose everyday household items!

    Someone’s out here skipping rocks and fishing!


    Earth Day is always celebrated on April 22. It’s followed closely by Arbor Day, which falls on the last Friday in April.


    High Rock Lake Association, the voice of our Rowan based lake, is still hard at work for the 2020 recreational season. The annual mailing to its current membership has gone out with the 2020 decals. If you would like one, simply join HRLA by going to the website. All members receive this decal so you too can show your support of High Rock Lake #HRL.


    The NEW High Rock Lake Association stickers for 2020!


    HRLA is working plans for the upcoming July 4 dock decorating competition. Regardless if we are still social distancing or not, residents can show their patriotic creativity and send in pictures of their dock for the second annual event. Judges will view docks by boat going into the holiday weekends. This trophy will be presented to the 2020 summer winner during the holiday weekend – just in time for bragging rights! Last year there were more than 40 entries, HRLA is hoping to double the participants from both counties. #FriendlyCompetition


    High Rock Lake Trophy! What a beauty!


    The Rowan Dragon Boat Festival is still on the horizon, or beach shore as you might say. The date is Saturday, July 25 at Rowan Shrine Club, Long Ferry Road, Salisbury.

    The 2020 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival event chair is Daniel Matangira and he is ready to roll, or… paddle. “The dragon boat festival instills teambuilding, family fun and clean-competition,” said Daniel Matangira.  “People this is exciting. Ok I’ll admit it, I have tasted victory last year and can’t wait to defend our team’s championship! As a local small business owner, this event promotes the community and is a fundraiser to enhance the Chamber’s resources for small businesses of Rowan County. I am extremely proud of how our community supports this festival from food trucks and local breweries to our residents venturing out to the Lake to look at what all of the excitement is about.”


    Gator Bites, 2019 Championship Dragon Boat team.


    Finally, as we work though our new lifestyle and daily activities, I want to give a shout out to everyone in the medical community and to our new front line of essential workers such as those in Rowan County grocery stores for keeping up with the influx of shoppers all looking for the same thing or as it seems as the empty shelves show. We will get through this and I can’t wait to see sunscreen shelves needing to be restocked in the coming months. #retailresponders

    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 2020. Please email me at

  • 13 Jan 2020 6:05 AM | Anonymous member

    I continuously scratch my head when I hear locals call High Rock Lake, The River. HRL was created by damming the Yadkin-Pee Dee River for industrial use, and, thankfully, the lake evolved into recreational use as we know it today.  

    There are a lot of stakeholders pertaining to High Rock Lake and it all begins at the top, not politically or corporately speaking, but at the start of the Yadkin River in the northwestern part of the state, specifically Watauga County.

    Aerial view of Yadkin River.

    The Yadkin River is one of the longest rivers in North Carolina, flowing 230 miles. It rises in the northwestern portion of the state near the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Thunder Hill Overlook. Several parts of the river are impounded by dams for water, power, and flood control. The river becomes the Pee Dee River at the confluence of the Uwharrie River south of the community of Badin and east of the town of Albemarle. The river flows into South Carolina near Cheraw, which is at the Fall Line. The entirety of the Yadkin River and the Great Pee Dee River is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin. The watershed encompasses nearly 15,000 square miles in both North and South Carolina and a small part of Virginia.

    Recently, I met with Brian Fannon, Yadkin Riverkeeper [YRK], based in Winston-Salem to learn more about the body of water I call home, High Rock Lake.  Although I get to see the lake every day, I certainly don’t want to take it for granted. “Water is everybody’s responsibility,” said Fannon. The Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin provides nearly one million people with drinking water and impacts up to one million with fishing tournaments, recreational use, and residences.  

    Yadkin Riverkeeper, Brian Fannon.

    North Carolina’s rapid population growth, particularly in the Triad region, is having a profound impact on the Yadkin River. This unprecedented growth threatens local drinking water supplies. Consequently, the Riverkeeper program works with residents, regulators, and elected officials throughout the basin to ensure compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and N.C. pollution control laws. Brian discussed the Riverkeepers’ initiatives with me and it is a full spectrum of activities, which include:

    • Engaging citizens in clean water issues through education, advocacy, and action.
    • Promoting sustainable development practices that will accommodate growth without compromising the long-term health of the Yadkin River. 
    • Exploring the River and its tributaries through guided paddles and river cleanup trips to experience its beauty and learn about its threats.
    • Teaching and practicing a “river ethic” of ecological respect for all multiple uses.
    • Affiliating with the Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, with more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations and affiliates protecting rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways on six continents.
    • Partnering with businesses such as Aveda to raise funds to protect water quality through their corporate Earth Month Partner program since 2017. 

    North Carolina has more Riverkeepers than most states due to the multitude of rivers. The Yadkin Riverkeeper oversees 16 counties, including Rowan County. There are three pillars of work that encompass the Riverkeepers’ duties: Protecting the River, thus High Rock Lake, Advocating for the River, and Enhancing the River.

    Simply put, Riverkeepers monitor the quality of water, the potential threats to it, and how access is used and enjoyed. The Riverkeeper strives to create awareness for recreational use such as fisherman and paddlers alike. “Something that I think is important is the cooperation between YRK and Cube Hydro in developing recreation access and facilities on both the river and HRL. A new river trail map and new kayak and camping facilities on HRL will result from this work, and we are pretty happy about that,” said Fannon.

    This summer, the region endured significant high temperatures for a longer period of time with low rain which resulted in algae blooms in parts of the lake. YRK assisted state and county officials in assessing the risk posed by harmful algae blooms in HRL and informed the public and media about the impacts and causes. Through several media channels, including #YourRowan, we reached more than 4,000 individuals making them aware of the potentially harmful algae blooms (HABs).


    The short answer is awareness of what is going into our lake to make sure it’s protected in the future.

    The long answer is regulatory oversight and involvement of the water quality, from waste-water treatment plants and agriculture to current technology. Currently, North Carolina does not have a set water quality standard for its rivers and lakes for recreational use.

    “In many cases, the discharge water from wastewater treatment plants is of higher quality than what is in the river. Often, the water in the river will not meet the water quality standards for wastewater treatment plant discharge; the water going out is cleaner than the river water brought in.”

    “The point is, wastewater treatment plants are not the problem with water quality in the Yadkin River; the culprits are Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) combined with poor agricultural practices, and stormwater runoff,” continued Fannon.

    Below are a couple of useful links regarding CAFOs:

    Visuals on the Poultry-Related Nutrient Flow in the Yadkin River Basin.

    YRK was an integral part of the recent settlement with Duke Power to excavate the coal ash at Buck Power Plant, which set a precedent for the agreement between Duke and North Carolina, announced January 1, 2020. Duke will now excavate nearly all the coal ash in North Carolina.

    “This is a huge step forward in protecting N.C.’s water, and we are proud of our participation in both the Buck Steam Plant settlement and in the statewide meetings to push for cleanup at all coal ash facilities. As the Buck coal ash threatened HRL, this is a very pertinent issue for its residents there,” commented Fannon.


    The Yadkin Riverkeeper is funded by individuals, companies, and foundations who share a commitment to clean water. Help us keep the Yadkin River fishable, swimmable, and drinkable, now and for future generations. We welcome you to become a member for $35 ($25 for students).  

    Currently, YRK has 300 members. In 2019, YRK exceeded its corporate donation revenue projections by nearly 40%, received a $22,500 grant from Winston-Salem Foundation for board and staff diversity training, and hired a part-time diversity communications specialist.

    Yadkin River Dam.

    In addition:  

    • The Yadkin Riverkeeper successfully launched its historical paddle series and River Reconnect program, with the goal of providing educational programming and water-based recreation opportunities for underserved youth.
    • Began collecting data for the YRK Swim Guide program, providing information to the surrounding communities on E. coli levels in four popular swimming areas on the river and HRL. YRK now has in-house capacity to analyze samples in real time and report results to the public and local health agencies.
    • Facilitated an agreement between Cube Hydro Carolinas and N.C. Division of State Parks to use $40,000 in funding from FERC-approved Recreation Plan for a new paddle trail map.
    • Developed outreach materials for a sustainable agricultural initiative to promote local, sustainable meat and dairy farmers who market their products directly to consumers.
    • Supported local community efforts to improve and expand access to the river, including educational presentations, paddles and outreach programs for high school students and local civic organizations.

    Yadkin Riverkeeper Inc. has been a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, supported by the generosity of individuals, corporations and organizations that care about clean water, since 2008. For more information, go to

    Yadkin River at High Rock Lake.

    I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at


    #itsaROCOthing         #lakeliving      #YourRowan    #BeAnOriginal     #HighRockLake

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software