Stripers show up again at Lake Norman
There have been two interesting developments during the past few days by fishermen at Lake Norman.
First, guide Craig Price of Denver, N.C., had a party from Charlotte surprisingly boat several relatively large striped bass.
Then, ardent fly-fishing angler John Long of Stanley went beyond Norman’s usual spin-tackle convention and caught some of the lake’s increasingly popular hybrids with a long rod.
“I doubted that we’d ever see many stripers at Norman again except one or two here and there,” said the veteran Price. “But we got into a school of them and caught about eight weighing from 9 to 12 pounds.”
Massive die-offs of stripers near Cowans Ford Dam during recent very hot summers took thousands of the fish. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission traced the kills to a depleted oxygen situation and in 2012 decided to quit stocking stripers at Norman, substituting the hardier hybrids. The latter are striper/white bass crosses and the Wildlife Commission plans to stock approximately 165,000 fingerlings annually.
Price’s party included Thom Besette, his son Matthew and grandson Foster, 5.
The stripers – mixed in with hybrids and large white perch among 35-40 fish that the group caught overall – mostly hit threadfin shad. However, the 12-pound striped bass took a live crappie that was trailing the boat 35 feet deep.
The stripers were released.
Long decided to take a favorite flyrod with him during his most recent trip to Norman.
When a school of hybrids started slashing through shad on the surface, Long first cast a streamer he’d tied himself to the feeding fish. Then he switched to a topwater lure of his creation that is similar to a popping bug. He caught six hybrids of 2 to 3 pounds and a companion caught four, also using fly tackle. They missed several more. All the hybrids were released.
“What fighters they are!” said Long. “Just as good as I had heard. As these fish get bigger and the state puts more of them in the lake, I feel Norman will become more popular than ever.”
Long laughed and added:
“When the hybrids hit that popper on top the other day, it sounded like someone had thrown a hand grenade in the water.”
Long has this advice for anglers who want to catch hybrids on flyrods, or any tackle, for that matter:
“Motor your boat into the creek necks and watch for gulls, diving to compete with the breaking fish for the forage species. Carefully get within range, cast to the commotion on the surface and hold on.” Tom Higgins
Catches of the week
• A 48-inch red drum at Kiawah Island, S.C., by Ellen Taylor of Charlotte.
• A 43 ½-inch blue catfish at Lake Norman by Martin Karnoski of Indian Trail, while fishing from a specially-rigged kayak.
• A 70-pound black drum at Bogue Inlet Pier by Roger Brown of Swansboro. The previous week he caught an 82-pounder. They were released.
• A 2-pound 13-ounce pompano at Oak Island Pier by local angler Roberta Grove.
• A mix of 65 largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass boated and mostly released at Fontana Lake by Robbinsville fishermen Bucky and Charles Lane during a snowy Tuesday. The fish hit skirted spinnerbaits and jerk baits cast to rocky shoreline.
• The following king mackerel off Hatteras Village: 55 pounds, Garden Yates of Kannapolis; 47 pounds, Benjamin Ross, Hickory; 40 pounds, Steven Austin, Kannapolis; 40 pounds, Bill James, Kannapolis; 35 pounds, Boozie Delling, Cherryville; 33 pounds, Christopher Terry, Dallas, N.C.; 33 pounds, Brian May, Pickens, S.C.