Learn About Lake Norman in NC Today | Stay Lake Norman Luxury

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About Lake Norman

Lake Norman is nicknamed North Carolina’s “Inland Sea” thanks to 520 miles of shoreline and a surface area of more than 32,475 acres that span across four counties. The largest man-made lake in our state, it came into existence when Duke Energy began building Cowan’s Ford Dam in 1959 on the Catawba River Chain. Lake Norman is nearly as large as the other 10 lakes on the Catawba combined. Our “Inland Sea” features plenty of outdoor fun and recreation such as fishing, boating, skiing, paddle and wake-boarding, swimming, biking, and hiking trails. Lake Norman experiences also include vibrant sunsets, dining on the waterfront, cruises, regattas, and of course – possible sightings of Normie, the Lake Norman Monster! View our local area guide for a complete list of our favorite things to do in Lake Norman.


  • Year Built: 1959-1963
  • Area: 32,510 acres at full pond
  • Length: 33.6 miles
  • Width: 9 miles
  • Shore line length: 520 miles
  • Maximum Depth: 110 feet
  • Average Depth: 33.5 feet
  • Maximum Drawdown: 15 feet
  • Capacity: 3.4 trillion gallons of water
  • Volume: 1,093,600 acre-feet
  • Elevation at full pond: 760 feet above MSL
  • Retention Time: 207 days (average)
  • Drainage Area: 1,790 square miles
  • Average River Flow at Cowans Ford Dam: 1,726 MGD
  • Named for: Norman Atwater Cocke (former president of Duke Power)
  • Source of the Catawba River: Evans Knob in Gower County
  • Lake level: Call 1-800-829-5253
  • Location: Latitude: 35.5177689 Longitude: -80.9557724

Fishing on Lake Norman
Below are the general guidelines regarding a fishing license on Lake Norman:

  • Persons under age 16 are exempt from the requirement of a basic fishing license.
  • The game lands license is not required to fish in any waters on game lands.
  • A fishing license is not required to fish a private pond. A pond or lake located on land owned by a public body such as a state-supported university or a government entity is not a private pond.
  • A resident may fish with natural bait in his county of residence without a basic fishing license.  “Natural Bait” is any bait that can be beneficially digested by fish.  An individual must carry a form of identification that shows his or her photograph, name and current address.  This exemption does not apply to the special trout license.
  • July 4th is declared “FREE FISHING DAY” and a fishing license is not required on this date.Fishing licenses are available at Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Gander Mountain.  Visit www.ncwildlife.org for rules and regulations.

Boating on Lake Norman
Any person under the age of 26 must complete a NASBLA approved boating education course before operating any vessel propelled by a motor of 10 HP or greater.  Visit www.ncwildlife.org for rules and regulations.

Please visit LakeNormanBoatersGuide.com for interactive lake access maps and more information on boating and enjoying Lake Norman.