In June, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission fisheries biologists stocked 162,500 hybrid striped bass into Lake Norman, marking a shift in the agency’s management of the 32,510-acre reservoir from a striped bass fishery to a hybrid striped bass fishery.
The Commission has traditionally stocked striped bass into the reservoir each year. Over the last 10 years, however, striped bass have suffered from summertime kills related to the species’ habitat preferences and feeding habits.
Landlocked striped bass follow river herring to the cold, deep layer of the reservoir. During summer, the deep layer eventually loses oxygen which leads to fish die-offs.
The hybrid striped bass that were stocked recently a cross between female striped bass and male white bass. Hybrid striped bass are considered more resilient to warmer water temperatures than striped bass and generally are expected to remain in the upper layer of the lake during the summer.
Despite their hardiness, hybrid striped bass are susceptable to oxygen depletion die-offs if they develop feeding habits and summer habitat preferences similar to striped bass.
Before deciding to stock hybrids in Lake Norman, Commission staff met with anglers to determine angler preferences as well as reviewed literature and talked with biologists from other state and federal agencies to gain a better understanding of the summer habitat preferences of hybrid striped bass compared to striped bass.
Commission staff will monitor the hybrid striped bass fishery annually to determine if the hybrid striped bass fishery is a success.
The current regulations for hybrid striped bass and striped bass at Lake Norman allow anglers to harvest four fish in aggregate that are 16 inches or larger from Oct. 1 – May 31 and to harvest four fish in aggregate with no minimum size limit from June 1 – Sept. 30.
Commission staff is evaluating a proposed regulation change to extend the 16-inch size limit through the summer months because catch-and-release mortality is expected to be less of a concern for hybrid striped bass than striped bass during the summer.
source: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission