Water tubing has become a very popular family water sport.

The equipment needed is relatively inexpensive and available at discount and sporting goods stores, as well as most marine dealers. All one needs to get started is a tube, towrope, inflation device for the tube, personal flotation device and a kid or two who wants to be pulled behind a boat.

The fun starts with a jump in the water.

Tubing doesn’t require the skills or dexterity needed to wake board or water ski.

If you haven’t experienced the sport before, spend an afternoon on a boat with someone who has. It shouldn’t take long for you to decide if you like it.

More than likely, you will want to join the growing number of tubers on the lake. Then, you will want to visit a water sports dealership with a knowledgeable associate who can guide you through your water tube purchase.

Tubes come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors.

The most popular style is the deck tuber. This multi-functional tube accommodates multiple riders and serves as a raft when stopped in the water. A new and aggressive steerable tube comes complete with fins and gives experienced riders an exhilarating ride.

Towropes are generally 60 feet in length and rated for the number of riders being pulled on a tube. The rope has a loop on each end. One attaches to the tube. The other goes to the boat’s tow bar.

A booster ball can be added to keep the towline from splashing the riders. It also serves to warn other boaters that there is a line between the boat and tube.

According to Mark Cotter, of Four Season Marine Supply in Denver, a quality water tube should last several seasons if properly inflated and given a reasonable amount of care.

Cotter emphasizes several factors that can cause tubes to rip from the stitching, including under-inflation. Towing at slow speeds can cause excessive water resistance, and riders should balance the tube to keep the front higher than the back until the boat is at a safe towing speed.

Here are some more tubing tips:

• Store tubes away from sunlight.

• Don’t drag tubes on docks or ground.

• Always wear a life vest.

• Boat speed depends on conditions and the age of the rider.

• Avoid excessive bouncing.

• Don’t allow slack in the line.

• Read and adhere to the warning labels on the tube.

Upcoming events

• The Lake Norman Sail & Power Squadron will conduct boater safety training at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Mount Mourne Volunteer Fire Department, 1577 Mecklenburg Hwy. Training costs $45. Advance registration is required. Details: 704-660-5568 or www.usps.org/lakenorman.com.

• I will conduct a free safe boating class, “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night,” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at North Point Watersports, 107 Doolie Road. Details: 704-617-6812 or gus@lakenorman.com.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Always be aware of approaching boat traffic. Drive defensively when pulling a tube.

Hot spots of the week

White perch are on river and secondary points suspended in water to 70 feet deep.

Large bass and flathead catfish are in the vicinity of schooling perch.

Bass are hitting top water lures at dawn and are schooling on shallow points throughout the day.

Night fishing around bridges is good for crappie, bass and perch.

Cat fishing is good to very good using fresh cut bait in water to 50 feet.

A striper kill is in progress at the Cowan Ford Dam. Hundreds of dead and gilling fish have been removed since the kill began July 29. The death toll as of Aug. 4 was 395. The good news is that striped bass are the only species affected by the hot water kill at the dam.

The surface water temperature varies by location but is mainly in the 90s in open waters not affected by power generation.

he water level is about 3.2 feet below full pond on Lake Norman.

Capt. Gus Gustafson, of Lake Norman Ventures, is a full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Details: 704-617-6812 or www.fishingwithgus.com.