Catching a hard-fighting hybrid bass at Lake Norman is reward enough in itself.
Now, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is planning to pay $100 to anglers who catch and report one of these fish that bears a tag placed on it by the agency.
The program involving the cross between striped and white bass was announced this week.
To receive the reward, anglers must retain the orange tag and supply the following information to Corey Oakley, the commission’s Piedmont fisheries research coordinator:
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▪ Tag number.
▪ Date the fish was caught.
▪ Location of the catch in relation to some known landmark.
▪ If the fish was harvested or released.
▪ Type of live bait or artificial lure used to make the catch.
▪ Whether angler was fishing from a boat or from the shoreline.
Fisheries biologists with the Wildlife Commission will begin tagging hybrids this month at Norman and continue to do so on a monthly basis through 2016. The project is to help better understand the hybrid harvest, determine if stocking rates need adjustment and see if current size and creel limits at Norman are adequate for the good of the fishery.
Since the hybrids can’t reproduce naturally, the commission has implemented a stocking plan in which 162,500 fingerlings are released into the lake each year.
Hybrids in the 17-22 inch range now are being caught at Norman on a relatively regular basis. Some even larger have been reported.
The hybrids can be identified by broken lines along their sides. Pure-strain striped bass have unbroken lines.
To report catching a tagged hybrid email Oakley at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 919-214-1095.
Some expert observers predict that if the hybrid stocking program remains as successful as it has been so far, Lake Norman could become a “destination fishery” attracting anglers from other states. Observer News Services and Tom Higgins
▪ As fishing for very big blue catfish increases in popularity among Carolinas freshwater anglers, more fishermen are becoming quite proficient at finding and boating them. Add to the list Evan “Big Cat” Martin of Charlotte, who guides on area lakes. Martin caught a blue catfish weighing 52 pounds Saturday at Lake Tillery, where he earlier had boated a 42-pounder. His buddy Larry Godwyn caught a blue catfish of 30 pounds on the Saturday trip. Martin’s biggest catch to date is a 70-pound blue cat he pulled from Mountain Island Lake last year. Well-known stock car racing executive and promoter Humpy Wheeler recently boated a 42-pound blue at Mountain Island while fishing with Martin, a former football lineman at Western Carolina. TH
▪ Master Wildlife Officer Kenneth Ashe, who is stationed in Macon County, has received the Governor’s Award of Excellence, the highest possible honor for a state employee. Ashe, an 18-year veteran with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was cited for public service in providing hunting opportunities for special-needs children and disabled veterans. Ashe served on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps and later in the N.C. National Guard and Army Reserves. He deployed to Iraq in 2003.
▪ Charlotteans Josh Coggins and Shane Tuel teamed to win a Carolinas Anglers Team Trail catfish tournament Saturday at Lake Wateree with three fish weighing 89.53 pounds. Their largest, 38.45 pounds, took the big fish bonus for total winnings of $765. Another Charlotte duo, Mark Follett and Lindsay Bingham, finished second with 82.09 pounds and won $335. Brian Snipes and Bubba Branch of McConnells, S.C., finished third with 69.81 pounds
Catches of the week
▪ Twelve wahoo weighing a total of almost 500 pounds off Ocean Isle by Daniel Simmons, Brian Robbins and Bryan Freeman.
▪ A 6-pound speckled trout in the backwaters near Ocean Isle by Mack Homesley.
▪ Six hybrids averaging 17 inches each and a 27-inch striped bass at Lake Norman by Sam Newman of Mooresville while trolling an Alabama rig Monday.
▪ A flathead catfish of 56.45 pounds at Lake Norman on Sunday by Mac Byrum of Denver, N.C.
▪ A 40-pound wahoo off Hatteras Village by Hunter Huggins of Loris, S.C.
▪ A 50-pound wahoo off Hatteras by Taylor Hunt of Raleigh.
▪ A 27-pound blackfin tuna off Hatteras by Brown Gaddy of Manteo.