Adam Fields grew up on Lake Gaston and spent a lot of time waterskiing with his family. Then he discovered the sport of wakeboarding and began training hard on the lake.
Today, Fields is a well-known champion wakeboarder. He has won numerous competitions throughout the United States and abroad, and even established a wakeboarding school at Lake Gaston called AF Wake.
“I have trained hundreds, maybe thousands of people from around the world to learn wakeboarding, and Lake Gaston deserves a lot of credit for all of the success,” Fields says. “I'm a professional with sponsors and I compete in many national events, and many of my students are now making money at wakeboarding at young ages. All of those students got their starts at Lake Gaston.”
The sport of wakeboarding is a lot like waterskiing except that participants use a long board instead of two skis. The board is much like the board used in snowboarding, and wakeboarders use the bumpy wakes from their speedboats to jump into the air and do tricks.
“Lots of families come here for wakeboard lessons and end up buying homes on Lake Gaston,” Fields says. “I’m happy to say that wakeboarding has really enhanced recreational tourism in this region.”
Recreational tourism also extends to fishing, and the Roanoke Valley is known as the Rockfish Capital of the World. Every spring, starting around mid-March, rockfish (also called striped bass) swim from the Atlantic Ocean to the Roanoke River and into the rapids in Weldon, where they find the ideal water speed and temperature to spawn.
“People from all over the world tackle this world class fishery,” says Lori Medlin, president/CEO of the Halifax County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Water, Water Everywhere
Medlin says other water-based sports abound in the Valley, including water skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking and more. There are certainly enough waterways to enjoy such activities. The Roanoke River, Roanoke Rapids Lake and Lake Gaston all have beautiful parks and public access points. Boat ramps abound in the area, making it convenient for anyone to launch their favorite recreational watercraft.
The Roanoke River Partners have constructed riverside camping platforms along the Roanoke River from the Roanoke Valley all the way to Albemarle Sound, which allow you to canoe to a site and enjoy a reserved camping platform beside the water’s edge. Each Fall the Halifax County CVB hosts the Roanoke River Ramble, where participants can bring their own canoes and kayaks or rent boats from outfitters. This event gives even novice paddlers the chance to explore a nine-mile, smooth water section of the Roanoke River in the company of other more experienced paddlers. Of course, the beautiful fall colors and wildlife along the way, as well as the delicious hot lunch at the end, are other great aspects of the event.
Two More Parks
A pair of new public parks has been added to the outdoor landscape for residents and visitors to enjoy.
“They are Lake Gaston Day Use Area and Roanoke Rapids Lake Day Use Park,” Medlin says. “Both have already joined the large list of popular outdoor destinations in the Roanoke Valley.”
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