Prepping for the summer season at Smith Mountain Lake

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. – Hitting the water this summer? Smith Mountain Lake officials want you to keep safety and of course, fun, top of mind.

And for the second year in a row, SML has seen the highest number of boating incidents and injuries out of any body of water in the Commonwealth.

Conservation Police Sgt. Michael Morris has been stationed at the lake since 2010 and has seen his fair share of boating accidents.

“People are distracted on the water. They’re having fun, not paying full attention to their surroundings,” Morris said.

This Memorial Day weekend, Morris will be looking for any boaters speeding through no-wake zones, impaired drivers, and any other safety violations.

“Jet skis spraying each other ... boats operating too fast next to other boats or around docks or people in the water … looking for people bow-riding. A dangerous situation.”

New this summer – Virginia boaters will have to move over 200 feet and slow down if they see police or emergency vessels with flashing red or blue lights.

“It’s essentially the Move-Over law for the water,” Morris said. “It gives us some buffer there, prevent injuries, treated by fire and EMS.

If you’re heading out on the water, you wouldn’t want to forget your sunglasses, sunscreen, and of course, your life jacket.

Paige Pearson with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources said there needs to be a working life jacket on board for every person. Jet skiers, kayakers, and kids 12 and under are required to wear life jackets.

Just make sure they fit, and are Coast Guard approved.

“We want it to be fun. Don’t want it to be tragic,” Pearson said.

Summer season is ramping up at the lake, and while you’re out there having a blast, businesses are looking ahead to an influx of tourists.

At Bridgewater Marina, families come out to feed the coy fish, enjoy a meal, go mini golfing, or get out on the water.

The General Manager says they love seeing families return year after year.

”Tourism, it’s huge in this area. It puts food on the table. Love the people that come visit the lake whether it’s for a day or a week long.”

He says he wants everyone to have a fun and safe summer at the lake.

About the Authors:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!