(WVLT) - Labor day is usually a big weekend for boaters, but it's been a slow summer for East Tennessee Marina's. Lake levels are averaging about 23 feet below normal across East Tennessee. Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt has more on what people can expect for their holiday weekend.
A light sprinkle hits Douglas Lake, but it does nothing to hide the large sandbars sticking out of the water.
"Normally, this elevation would be mid-November," Brent Holt says.
But instead, it's been a long summer for the co-owner of Mountain Marina.
"Business is down at least 50% every day, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday, it doesn't matter," Holt continues.
He's not even expecting a big turnout on Labor Day. He says people just don't want to boat with the water about 20 to 30 feet below normal.
"There's still plenty of water, but they seem to have a phobia about it," Holt says.
But if you are planing on launching your boat, Kyle Loveday with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says it's better to be cautious.
"It can be dangerous, if you're not familiar with the lake, more than less it's gonna be an inconvenience for everybody," Loveday says.
He says stumps, limbs, and tight water space will also make it difficult.
"You gotta watch for the islands coming up, you gotta watch for people being congested in different areas that are usually pretty wide open," Loveday continues.
You also need to avoid coves around lakes.
"People are used to higher elevations this time of year and they'll go to the same place they've always gone and there has been more prop damage this year," Holt says.
"It's 5.6 feet, it's normally about 40 feet in here," Loveday says.
On Douglas, water used to reach the tree lines, now vegetation had grown in.
"Just make sure you don't go back up in there cause in the coves too far the lake levels are so far down, there shallow and good chance of runnin' ground in there," Loveday continues.
And even though it may be a slow weekend, Holt still hopes it's a safe one.
"I will tell them to look for shallow water and if they have a depth finder to use it," Holt says.
Safety is a big concern this weekend, so T.W.R.A. says to check out the lake before you take off. They suggest buying maps, looking at lake websites, talking with local boaters and bait shops before heading out on the water.