Anglers expecting to catch hybrid striped bass in Lake Norman will have to wait at least another year, Brian McRae of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission told members of the Harbor Fishing Club in Mooresville.
Instead, the commission stocked the lake in May with only striped bass, a breed susceptible to massive fish kills in recent years. McRae cited three reasons for not adding hybrids to Lake Norman this year.
The biggest reason was a concern that hybrid stripers might find their way into South Carolina waters, where they might crossbreed with the Santee-Cooper strain of striped bass. While that might be valid, the stripers stocked in Lake Norman by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission come from brood out of the Roanoke River in North Carolina, not from Santee-Cooper.
McRae’s second reason for not stocking hybrids is a concern that they might not fare very well in Lake Norman’s harsh summer environment. He said hybrids, like stripers, might die when dissolved oxygen levels decline due to summer heat. But instead of stocking a sampling of hybrids to test the theory, only striped bass were stocked, in spite of the fact that stripers are likely to die, as have tens of thousands of their predecessors in recent years. Furthermore, it is a known fact that the hybrids thrive in adverse environments like Florida, where water temperatures exceed 90 degrees and dissolved oxygen levels are so low that only catfish can survive.
His third reason is the commission’s inability to collect sufficient quantities of adult white bass to provide the sperm or eggs needed to cross-breed with the stripers to produce hatchery-raised hybrids. White bass populations are on the decline, but other states do not seem to have a problem acquiring enough brood stock to produce hybrids.
Like many striper fishermen, I am concerned that the striper fishery management program is a failure. Summer fish kills have depleted striper stocks to the point that many have quit fishing for this hard-fighting game fish. To continue stocking only stripers, without hybrids or an alternative species, is a costly exercise in enthusiasm.
Hot spots of the week
White perch weighing up to a pound are biting minnows and jigging spoons from 30 to 50 feet. Schooling bass are on shallow points throughout the day, and largemouth bass are around lighted docks at night. Crappie up to 18 inches in length are under bridges at night and on deep brush piles during the day. Catfish fishing is excellent. Channel catfish are being caught on stink baits in shallow coves. Flathead and blues are hitting fresh cut and live baits while swimming near schools of white perch.
Capt. Gus Gustafson, of Lake Norman Ventures, works as a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Details: 704-617-6812 or www.Fishingwithgus.com.