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Fishing with Capt. Gus: Stripers thrive in freshwater

Aren’t stripers saltwater fish?
This question is often posed by anglers new to the sport of fishing for landlocked striped bass. Stripers are, in fact, saltwater fish that thrive when confined or stocked in freshwater lakes. Since stripers can grow to mammoth proportions, they provide an exciting fishery in the southeast.
Lake Norman’s striped bass come from brood fish taken from the Roanoke River during the spring spawning run. The adult fish swim upriver from the ocean to within sight of the I-95 Bridge that crosses the river above Weldon. Each year, approximately 30 fish are taken to the Watha State Fish Hatchery in Pender County, where they spawn under the watchful eye of Wildlife Resources Commission biologists. As the striper fry hatch, they are placed in holding ponds for five to six weeks. When they reach 2 inches or more, they are transported via tank trucks to 18 reservoirs and two coastal rivers.
Lake Norman’s annual allocation is approximately 162,500 stripers. This year’s stocking took place on June 2 at the Stumpy Creek Access Area and the boat ramp adjacent to the Lake Norman Motel at Mountain Creek. The striper fingerlings were healthy and appeared to become well acclimated to their new environment.
Stripers grow quickly. Many attain a length of 16 inches and weigh a couple pounds by the time they are 2 years old. A 2-pound striper can put up a memorable fight on light tackle, which makes it the “king of fish” in most southern impoundments.
Stripers weighing 20 to 30 pounds have been taken from Lake Norman in years past, but most weigh 4 to 6 pounds and measure 20 to 25 inches.
Most stripers become stressed and die if caught and released when water temperatures exceed 75 degrees. Therefore, there is no minimum size limit on striped bass from June 1 until Sept. 30. The creel limit of four per angler per day remains the same, year round. Current regulation allow fishermen to keep and eat smaller stripers that were previously fodder for catfish and ospreys. Summer striper anglers are urged to keep the first four stripers of any size, and then fish for another species.
The lake’s temperature is in the 80s and the water level is near full.
Seminar: Bank and Dock Fishing for Sunfish, White Perch, Catfish and Bass. Gander Mountain, Interstate 77 Exit 36, Thursday, June 25, from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Free. Call 704-658-0822 for additional information.
Visit www.fishingwithgus.com or call Gus Gustafson at 704-617-6812, or e-mail him at Gus@LakeNorman.com.

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