Warning: Look out below while boating and swimming this Labor Day weekend

Heavy rains and high waters have deposited debris in spots boaters might not be able to see, so be careful when out on the water!

LAKE HAMILTON, Ark. — It’s usually a problem for Memorial Day weekend when spring rains wash debris into lakes and rivers as boaters and swimmers hit the water at the start of the season, but this year, August storms have created the same problem in Arkansas.

“Because of some of the high water we’ve had, we want boaters to be cautious and watch for submerged debris,” said Erin Jimenez, a public affairs specialist for the US Army Corps of Engineers of Little Rock.

The forecast looks wonderful for the three-day holiday, but signs of all the wet weather leading up to it are apparent, with lots of sticks and logs lodged where you can’t always see them, and lots of boaters cruising over those unfamiliar waters.

“This is one of the top three weekends generally, holiday-wise for the Corps, so it’s probably going to be pretty busy,” said Jimenez, who added that flow rates are up on the Arkansas River, leading to a small craft advisory.

Down on the lakes, similar signs of debris that by Monday, could flow into swimming holes, leading to even more warnings.

“Know your swimming abilities, stick to designated swim areas, never swim alone, and make sure you use your kill switch when you’re boating,” Jimenez said.

Those warnings don’t need to be told to fisherman Andrew Garner twice. He scoped out the scene at the Two Rivers Park boat launch with a tricked out tournament Nitro Z20 with eyes on a contest later this weekend.

“I try not to hurt the baby or tear the baby up,” Garner said.

He recounted his angling efforts that morning on the Little Maumelle River and how all the debris can help bring fish higher in the water, but said it’s a risk to head into uncharted areas, especially with any speed.

“I try not to get over a certain miles per hour because those logs and debris that’s floating down river can be unseen, slightly below the water surface,” he said. “Next thing you know you’re busting a prop or busting the hull.”

Or in the water, could be tagged on the end of that statement, bringing up the phrase every water safety expert says.

“Make sure you wear your life jacket when you’re on or near water,” said Jimenez.