Local Lakes a Shore Thing
Randy B. Young
Never miss a local story.
It’s commonly conjectured that the human body is about 9 percent water. Reduce that figure by just a percentage point or two, and people feel thirst.
Area lakes, on the other hand, comprise almost 0 percent people, even on their busiest days. Head out on a beautiful spring day like last Saturday, and you can almost see how University Lake and the Cane Creek Reservoir yearn for recreation enthusiasts — begging for boaters, aching for anglers, pining for picnickers.
The Orange Water and Sewer Authority’s University Lake and the Cane Creek Reservoir reopened this past Saturday.
Open year round, Jordan Lake just southeast of Chapel Hill is also beginning to see greater traffic with the emergence of more spring-like weather.
Day use areas at Jordan Lake currently are open 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. daily, but will stay open until 9 p.m. beginning in May. Campgrounds are currently open until 9 p.m. and will stay open until 10 p.m. in May.
Jordan Lake Superintendent Shederick Mole said water and recreational fun were plentiful.
“The levels are pretty normal — maybe up a couple of feet,” Mole said, noting the number of boaters and fishermen were rising along with area temperatures. “I’ve seen a few.
“It’s really starting to pick up a bit. The crappie should be biting soon, and we’ve got some tournaments coming up in the spring as well.”
In areas where boating and fishing are allowed during park hours, activities are regulated by North Carolina laws and regulations, including those regarding fresh and coastal recreational fishing licenses, boat registration and safety requirements. Boats, rafts and canoes are prohibited within designated swimming areas.
Mole said there were plenty of spring special events on Jordan Lake’s calendar.
“We have hikes, and starting real soon we’ll have our programs for fishing on weekends,” he said. “Just call our office and we’ll give a list of all of the events coming up in any month. Soon we’ll be starting our canoe programs as well.”
Programs include a monthly stargazing sessions hosted by Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, wildlife programs, and canoe paddling tours.
For more information, call Jordan Lake’s general information line at 919-362-0586.
Local lakes open
Local lakes re-opened to the public on March 21. Since the mid-1990s, OWASA has designated March 21 as Lightning Brown Day in honor of the late community activist and OWASA Board member.
OWASA provides water and sewer services to the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community and manages University Lake and Cane Creek Reservoir.
University Lake will be open for public use Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, while Cane Creek will be open Fridays and Saturdays – both through Nov. 8. The lakes will be closed on Good Friday (April 3) but will be open for the Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day holidays. Recreation hours are normally 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Located on the west side of Carrboro, the University Lake recreation area is at the end of University Lake Drive, reached via Old Fayetteville Road south of Jones Ferry Road. The Cane Creek Reservoir is about eight miles west of Carrboro on the north side of NC 54, just west of Stanford Road.
Citizens may use small private boats if they are brought on a car or in a truck (trailers are not allowed), a release stated. The limits on private boats are intended to help prevent aquatic weeds (which cause problems for fish and in water treatment) from being introduced into the reservoirs. To help protect water quality, OWASA allows only electric motors, which are also inspected.
Patrons are reminded that the lakes and recreation areas are alcohol-free. Life jackets are required and generally are available free for adults and children (some people may need to use their own life jackets due to unusual size or other special conditions).
For OWASA customers and Orange County residents, half-day lake use rates are $4.50 for ages 12-64 and just $2 for children and seniors. Kayak rentals are $15 plus lake use fees. Boat rentals are an additional $4.50. Private boat launching is $3.50 plus the lake use fee, and electric trolling motor half-day rentals are available for $15. Season passes are available for OWASA customers and Orange County residents.
For non-Orange County residents, lake use fees are $5.50 per half-day for ages 12-64 and $2.50 for children and seniors. Boat rentals are an additional $8, and private boat launching is $7, plus the lake use fee. Electric motor rentals are $22 per half-day.
Citizens with disabilities will receive assistance from OWASA staff as needed to enjoy boating and using the lake recreation area.
Second-year Senior Lakes Warden Johnny Riley said boaters should expect shorter waits getting on and off the water at Cane Creek this year.
“The fishing pier was brand new last year, and that was extremely popular,” Riley said, “but the biggest news we’ve got is the new and improved launch area we’ve got at Cane Creek.”
“There used to be a long line every morning,” he added. “We could only let about four people launch at a time. Now it’s at least twice the size of the previous launch area, so we’ll be a lot more efficient getting folks on and off of the water.”
On the water
OWASA offers kayaks, canoes, and flat-bottomed boats for rent. Riley said the kayak rentals added just last year were so popular, he’s intending to increase the inventory.
“They were really popular over at University Lake,” he said, “so we’ve shifted some of our supply at Cane Creek over to University Lake.”
Senior Assistant Lake Warden Bob Glosson oversees operations at OWASA’s University Lake location.
“Bob’s fleet will actually be bigger this year,” Riley said. “Plus, we’ve already ordered three tandem kayaks — the two-seaters. I think those are going to be extremely popular. Parents with kids will be able to put their kid in the kayak with them. Kayaks were a big step for us, and they’re just as popular as we’d hoped they would be.”
“Bob will have eight single kayaks and two tandems at University Lake,” Riley explained. “We’ll have four singles and one tandem at Cane Creek.”
University Lake and the Cane Creek Reservoir are stocked with bass, crappie, catfish and a variety of sunfish. A N.C. fishing license is necessary except on July 4.
Though the Cane Creek fishing pier is under repair, it will re-open later this spring, Riley said. He expects fishing to pick up as the weather continues to improve.
“Last year was really good,” he said. “Lots of crappie was caught, coolers full of brim, really nice bass. We’ve already got lots of calls about fishing.”
For more information, visit the recreation link on the OWASA website (www.owasa.org), call Riley at 942-5790, or call Glosson at 942-8007. Customers can also call OWASA at 968-4421.