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Outdoors Notebook: Hybrid growth appears positive at Lake Norman

Hybrid growth appears positive at Lake Norman

David Clubb of Mooresville has caught big fish all over the southeast, such as 50-pound striped bass in Chesapeake Bay.

Seldom has he been as excited as he was last weekend when he caught and released several 17-inch fish at Lake Norman.

That’s because those fish were hybrids, a striper/white bass cross. They are relatively new to Lake Norman.

Individual fishermen privately (and illegally) stocked several hybrid fry at the lake a few years ago. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission began stocking hybrid fingerlings in Lake Norman in 2013 and will continue to do so annually.

The hybrids are meant to replace stripers the agency has released for decades in the big Catawba River reservoir. Striper die-offs in the thousands have occurred at Lake Norman in past summers because of depleted oxygen deep in the water near Cowans Ford Dam, where they gathered to feed.

It is thought that the hardier hybrids won’t be so susceptible.

“The hybrids are great fish,” said Clubb, a part-time guide who owns an Iredell County roofing company . “They fight hard and are great for the table.

“I’m especially excited by my catch the other day because those 17-inch fish have to be some of those the Wildlife Commission released in June a year go as fingerlings. They’ve grown that much in 14 months, and they likely will keep getting much bigger.”

Clubb hooked the fish after finding a school suspended over a hump. They hit Money Minnow lures attached to an Alabama Rig.

Seth Curry, a former Duke basketball star from Charlotte, was thought to have boated an 8-pound hybrid while fishing at Lake Norman a few months ago with guide Dave Price of Denver, N.C. It turns out that fish was a pure striper, according to Wildlife Commission experts.

How big can hybrids go? The state record in South Carolina, which has had them for years in some waters, is 20 pounds, 6 ounces.

Should hybrids thrive like this at Norman, it’s almost certain to become a destination lake for anglers from other states, boosting the economy for marinas, motels, restaurants and, of course, fishing guides. Tom Higgins

Catches of the Week

• A sailfish boated and released off Hatteras Village by Connor McInnis of Rockingham

• A 60-pound wahoo off Ocean Isle by Heather and Eric Crane.

• A 24-pound king mackerel off Morehead City by Jim Bengala.

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