Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Largemouth bass have been hitting across High Rock Lake the past couple weeks.
Fish weighing more than 6 pounds have been seen, with bass around 3 pounds common.
Hot baits include crank baits, Carolina rigged lizards and spinner-baits.
Fish around rocks or stumps in water ranging from 12 to 18 feet deep.
Among the best colors for crank-baits are black/silver andblue/chartreuse.
Early morning action has been strong near the mouth of Panther and Pott’s creeks in the bushes and in the mud flats (northern portion of High Rock).
Crappie have continued to fill fishermen’s buckets. Abbott’s Creek at the N.C. 8 bridge has been producing good catches both day and night. At night, try Bringle Ferry Road bridge near Tamarac Marina, Flat Swamp railroad bridge and main channel humps and submerged sandbars. Use suspended or floating lights with minnows and jigs for best results. Fish weighing over a pound have been seen in many creels.
Catfish are very active in all areas of High Rock. For channel cats, try cut bait, chicken liver or night crawlers. Fish on the bottom with enough weight to hold the bait to the bottom with consideration on the amount of current in the water. Flathead catfish bite best at night and on live bait. Use live shiners, shad, bluegill or goldfish for the best chance at a trophy cat. In the past week, fish weighing more than 40 pounds have been seen and weighedin atlocal tournaments and tackle stores.
If you don’t believe it, stop by Hill’s Minnow Farm off Bringle Ferry Road and check out the bragging board. Quite a few pictures of local anglers with flatheadsbetween 20 and 40 pounds fill the wall.
Prime places to try include the tail-race area of High Rock Dam, drop-offs and rock piles near deep water where stumps or other structures are. Several fishermen at High Rock Dam recently caught 78 flathead catfish in a day, the biggest hitting the scales at 37 pounds.
Action at other local lakes include blue cats and channel cats on Lake Tillery and Badin Lake. Fish the northern sections of both lakes. Striped bass are hitting on Badin Lake, with early mornings and late evenings being the best times. Look for surface action on points and creek mouths.
Tuckertown has shallow water action in most of the creeks if fishermen can deal with the increasing vegetation growing in the lake.
Snakehead fish
With the reported catch and release of a northern snakehead in the Catawba River on May 13, biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are urging anglers to be on the lookout for this predatory fish.
If you suspect you have caught a snakehead, keep it, freeze it or place it on ice, and report the capture to the Wildlife Resources Commission at 919-707-0220.
Biologists don’t want anglers releasing a suspected snakehead because the species, which is native to Asia, has been known to displace native fish in waters where it has been illegally introduced. An established snakehead population could reduce the abundance of popular game and nongame species, affecting angler catch rates.
Northern snakehead are often mistaken for the bowfin. Unlike native bowfin, they can have devastating impacts on resident fish communities by competing with them for food and habitat, preying upon them and transmitting disease.
Snakehead species can live out of water for limited periods of time and can survive in degraded habitats that normally would be unsuitable for native fish. Once established in a body of water, they may become the top predator because of their large size and aggressive nature.
These potential negative impacts on existing fisheries, plus a similar reported sighting in Lake Wylie in 2002, led the Wildlife Commission to pass a regulation in 2002 making it illegal to transport, purchase, possess or sell live snakeheads in North Carolina.
Despite efforts to keep the fish out of North Carolina waters, biologists with the agency and the United States Geological Survey were notified on May 17 about the catch and release of a snakehead into the Catawba River.
Later that day, they confirmed that the fish reportedly caught in the upper Catawba River arm of Lake Wylie was a northern snakehead. They identified the fish from a photograph submitted by an angler who said he caught the fish, which measured 31 inches and weighed 13 pounds, near Belmont four days earlier. The angler mistakenly thought the snakehead was a bowfin and released it back into the river.
The best way to distinguish between the snakehead and bowfin is to look at the bottom rear fin near the tail. The snakehead has a very long fin, which is more than half the length of the dorsal (back) fin, and has 18 rays. The bowfin has a shorter anal fin, which is less than half the length of the dorsal fin, and has 12 rays.
Most snakeheads get into waterways when people illegally keep them as pets or purchase them live from fish markets and then release them.
To confirm the existence of the fish in the Catawba River, Commission biologists sampled the catch-and-release site, but found no northern snakehead. Along with routine sampling, the Commission is working to educate anglers and asking for their assistance.
Jacob Rash, district fishery biologist with the Commission, said, “We are asking that anglers report any fish they believe to be snakeheads. By acting responsibly and working together, anglers and the Commission can help maintain our fishery resources for future generations of anglers.”
A free boating safety course is scheduled for July 14 at the Rowan County Rescue Squad on Julian Road. Start time is 9 a.m. and it ends approximately at 4 p.m. To sign up call Master Officer J.S. Isley at 704-278-2236 or go online to
n n nE-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at