Fishin’ with Capt. Gus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 27, 2013

Earlier this month, the NCWRC stocked approximately 162,500 fingerling hybrid striped bass in Lake Norman.
Hybrids are replacing the striped bass that have difficulty surviving the lake’s summer heat and low dissolved oxygen levels. This new entry is heartier than its predecessors and is expected to thrive in Norman’s harsh water environment.
The fast growing hybrids will reach a length of 11 to 15 inches the first year and will gain an additional 6 inches by the summer of 2015. The then 2-year-old fish will weigh between 2 and 3 pounds and will exceed the minimum size limit of 16 inches for harvesting.
While hybrids are not new to Lake Norman, this attempt at stocking by state wildlife officials will improve the fishery. Previous placements have been made by concerned fishermen. This explains why anglers have been catching hybrids since the fall of 2011. Since then, some fish have reached weights in excess of 5 pounds.
Anglers are excited about the hybrid’s introduction, since many have either caught them or read about the tenacity in which they fight. Hybrids swim in schools, where like their parents (white and striped bass), they chase and feed upon shad and herring. Since the constantly roaming hybrids can be elusive at times, their fighting ability makes the search for them worthwhile.
Hybrid striped bass and white perch share a similar profile. The silver/grey colors of both fish make identification somewhat difficult. To make matters more confusing, they both have lateral lines. The difference is that the lines on the white perch are faint, while the lines on the hybrid are bolder and often broken in appearance.
As mentioned previously, the legal size limit for hybrids on Lake Norman is 16 inches with a creel limit of four in combination with striped bass. White perch do not have a size or creel limit.
Like bass and stripers, hybrids will strike a variety of lures, including everything from top water to deep diving crank baits. Until the new hybrid fishery becomes established, basic bass tackle is all that’s needed.
Hybrid striped bass are hatchery conceived when the eggs of the female striped bass are fertilized by the milt of a male white bass.
Bass are hitting top water lures at daylight, while soft plastics are being used throughout the day.
Eighty degree water temperatures have moved white perch and crappie off the banks and into twenty to thirty feet of water.
Catfish, particularly channels and blues, are pleasing anglers who fish with stink baits, chicken parts and fresh cut bream. Flatheads are being caught around and under schools of white perch.
The water level on Lake Norman is approximately 1.8 feet below full pond. Mountain Island Lake is 3.4 feet below full. Surface water temperatures are in the low to mid-80s, depending on location or proximity to a power plant.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and fishing guide on Lake Norman. Visit his website, www.fishingwithgus.com or call 704-617-6812. For additional information, e-mail Gus@LakeNorman.com.

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