Installing a course on public water, guidance needed.

DbmarcelDbmarcel Posts: 9 New Baller
I have scouted a few places to install a slalom course next spring. These are all fingers off of the Tennessee river (Kentucky Lake) that are only open on one end (no flow) and no residences on adjacent land. They are all in Perry county/Decatur county Tennessee. Each spot has 8-9 feet of water, 1/2 mile long and 350-500 feet wide. I have found little information online about installing courses in public water. From what I understand the permitting for this would have to go through the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) and ACOE. This is gonna happen as long as I can get the permits but would appreciate some guidance from the BoS community. I also have just a couple of fellow skiers in my area willing to help. Not many but a few.

Guidance from BoS members needed.
-What has been your experience with courses on public water
-What steps, in addition to the basic requirements of the permitting system, should I take to increase the odds of permit approval?
-Has anyone gone through the permitting process, installed the course and then voluntarily pulled the course out because of frustration? If so, Why? (I have heard stories that vary from fishermen cutting buoys to people shooting out the balls and in one case someone stealing the whole course)
-What are some of your best recommendations/experiences?
-What are some of the pitfalls I should be aware of prior to starting this endeavor?
-Anyone in the middle Tennessee area that would be willing to help/ski?

I am fairly determined to do this and I am going in with the understanding that there will be some issues and required maintenance of the course due to the ignorance of others, but that being said, I would like to be as prepared as possible in advance and able to answer questions when I am asked. Thank You
David Marcel


  • eyepeelereyepeeler Posts: 154 Baller
    edited August 2018
    Before you undertake this endeavor please watch the movie "Deliverance". Tennessee fishermen will do anything and everything to take your course out of "their" fishing cove.
    Matt Dillon
  • RINLERINLE Posts: 54 Baller
    Most the existing courses in middle TN have been there for years so hard to know how to give you advice for a new course. What about a portable course and dont get a permit?

    Deliverance was not filmed in or about TN, and I am yet to travel to a state that does not have its own version of what was depicted in that movie. Skied a course on public TN water yesterday that has been there since the 70s.

    Go for it David. We need more skiers.
  • DbmarcelDbmarcel Posts: 9 New Baller
    Where were you skiing yesterday in middle Tennessee? The only course I know of is on old hickory about an hour away from me. The plan is to put something in where my girlfriend and I can run some sets before she goes to work or after she gets home in the evening. I work abroad, currently in Saudi Arabia, so we are skiing almost daily when I'm home from my travels itching to get home in a couple weeks to get some skiing in. A couple weeks ago we were on the boat drinking coffee at 5 am waiting for first light.
  • NandoNando Posts: 450 Crazy Baller
    Having had several courses on public lakes over the years, and having given up on a couple of them, I'd say do what you can to get the guys issuing the permits to understand exactly what you're doing (the course and the skiing part of it), if they don't already. My primary site is very visible and we have four or five regulars who trailer in and use our course. We've been very fortunate that these guys are pretty serious skiers and really conscientious about not screwing up our situation. On the other hand, there's one guy who, while a nice enough guy, can't drive and always takes out a ball or two. This guy never replaces them or tries and can't figure it out. From what I know of your area (not much), @eyepeeler's concerns are legitimate, because a good location for a slalom course is usually also a good fishing spot. Thee will undoubtedly be some fishermen who are surprised and pissed about the new course, so try and make peace with them, if you have any contact with them. Let the other skiers know that if you get in a war with fishermen, skiers always seem to lose. How much do water levels there fluctuate? Are you going to anchor it or use a cable course- either way, make it as durable as possible.
  • DbmarcelDbmarcel Posts: 9 New Baller
    We are not sure on what course we will be putting in as of yet. That is part of the information that I would like to gather through this conversation. What is most likely to get a permit approved? I already know we will need to consistently replace balls on the course. When we go to any course we carry a few in the boat to replace what is missing. Every course seems to be missing a ball or two when we show up. I have done some visiting with the local fishermen in the area and most of them seem unconcerned but I'm sure it will be great targets for the bow-fishermen who are out at night shooting carp. There are a few more guys out there like me with actual ski boats who are interested in running the course and every time we are out folks are asking us about skiing. Hopefully this might give the area a new interest in skiing. Can always use more people to give me a pull behind my boat.
  • NandoNando Posts: 450 Crazy Baller
    A permanently anchored course has less to get in the way of others- like fishermen- with no central cable or arms, but takes a fair amount of work to install. My brother used to ski at a very busy public lake in the south where the anchors were 3' diameter screw anchors, then chain up to a metal subfloat, then surgical tubing to attach the buoys- all so that if anything broke, it was the surgical tubing and the important stuff stayed intact. The expense and effort to put that in was huge, but though they lost a few balls, they never had to reinstall anchors or anything below the subfloats. We don't go that far, but have string or zip ties on the balls, so they break before anything else. We only have one group of bow-fishermen and we know them, so that hasn't been an issue.
  • RINLERINLE Posts: 54 Baller
    The local ski club has had a course on Percy Priest, and horribly crowded, lots of boat rentals, and a great fishing lake, since the 1970s. There is another course on Percy maintained by the some camp counselors . It is not as consistent. The club course has magnets for timing an all. It is in a part of the lake you should study a map of before heading towards it. We even added a bunch of rip rap to the course this past year. As long as the wind agrees, it a great course.

    Tims Ford (public lake) has a course that comes up after the survey of shore. It is there most all season. There is another course that is portable that a guy puts up on the other side of the lake periodically.

    Center Hill (public lake) has a well used course that has been there for years.

    Fishermen are not the problem. We have mutual respect and appreciation for our lakes as the fisherman. We are the same ones at the launch ramp early and late.

    Recreational beginners with tubes, who cannot handle their boats well, and jet skis rentals are the problem.

    Your unproductive stereotyped comments that bring in Deliverance are not useful and are way off the mark. Maybe true where you are, but not round here.

    There is also a private ski like along the interstate just outside of Paduka, KY that may be close to you.

  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,269 Crazy Baller
    edited August 2018
    As @Chef23 stated and can't be stressed enough, be nice even to assholes. When you go home your course remains. You can watch it all the time. There is a course on Laurel Lake in southern KY that is permitted via ACOE, I think. I know U.S. Forestry Service is involved also. There is one on Taylorsville Lake that is ACOE. I'll PM you a name for some info. Different state, so who knows?
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • sgravessgraves Posts: 5 Baller
    As the others have mentioned make peace and talk to as many people in the area in advance....I am currently in a ongoing dispute with a course I have installed on the northern part of Lake George, NY...the minute I put it up a complaint was filed that day....I have been forced to move it and again a complaint has been filed even before it was installed in the new location and it is all off NYState Forever wild land......there is always going to be someone that is not happy with your passions...
  • kyleganselkylegansel Posts: 25 Baller
    Knock on wood we've had very good luck with our course in Southern MI. We applied for a permit and dropped it in the lake about 13 years ago. We only had to apply for the permit for three years and then we were basically grandfathered in.

    We purchased an insta-slalom course and started with 8' buoy lines. Our concern was about keeping the mainline lower along with the pvc. We found quickly that it was actually better for folks (non skiers) to see the mainline and the PVC booms so we revised all the buoy lines to 5' long. This also helped the course float better. Some folks were clueless at first. They'd anchor through it, get their anchor caught on the mainline, or go tubing through it.....

    The first year we had some issues with a few fisherman and locals but the best advice I can give you is to kill everyone with kindness. Many people will respond much better when approached with a smile. Even this past weekend we had a fisherman fishing in the course. We didn't do a drive by and spray him........ :-P We pulled up slow, said hello, asked him how they were biting and simply asked if he minded if we took a rip through the course. He said "sure no problem, I enjoy watching you guys." A few weeks ago we had another that asked if he could stay in that spot for about 10 more minutes as the catching was good. We said no problem and about 10 to 15 minutes later he moved out.

    There's always been this terrible wall between skiers and fisherman. We do end up dealing with a few grouches but my best advice would be to mend the fences between the two groups on your public lake. Be kind. If you get a grouch who won't move then go for a good free ski. Non of us our pros on our lake so it's easier to ski the course another day and not have a group of folks building a resistance against skiers.

    In the past 13 years we've had the sheriff called on a ski boat once because a fisherman said skiing wasn't allowed when people were fishing.....

    Oh, lastly. Our course sits in water that is 30' to 75' deep. We have one spot in the middle where it's about 10 feet. We have actually never pulled the course out. In October we pop all the balls off and let it sink to the bottom. One of my close friends is a diver so in the spring he dives down and floats each section up. The mainline is in great shape for being the water that entire time. The pvc has some algae on it but that's about it. Good luck!!!!
  • DbmarcelDbmarcel Posts: 9 New Baller
    I appreciate all of the feedback.
Sign In or Register to comment.