What is next for Lake Norman's depleted striper fishery?
This year's striped bass kill took 7,000 adult fish from Lake Norman. If that's not enough, a small kill - 300 - in 2009 and another in 2004 that took the lives of 3,000 fish have diminished the quality and quantity of stripers.
With summer kills coming all too frequently, one has to wonder if it is possible for the species to recover.
One group of Lake Norman anglers suggests that future striper stockings should be supplemented with "hybrid striped bass."
The hybrid, a cross between a white bass and a striped bass, is produced in a hatchery. The cross breeding produces a fish that can withstand much higher water temperatures and lower levels of dissolved oxygen than the striped bass currently being stocked.
The hybrid striper, also known as a bodie bass, wiper, sunshine bass or Cherokee bass, is hardy. They currently thrive in impoundments throughout the southeast and in mid-western sections of the United States.
The hybrid striped bass has a deep silver body that looks more like a white bass than a striper. The stripes along the sides and back are usually broken, and a few extend to the tail.
Hybrids grow quickly. They can reach a length of 18 inches and weigh as much as two pounds within 24 months. The average hybrid striped bass ranges from a few pounds to five or more pounds. When conditions are favorable, many achieve weights of 10-15 pounds.
Like stripers and white bass, hybrids swim in large schools and spend much of their adult lives devouring shad and herring, both plentiful on Lake Norman. Besides being the perfect match for Lake Norman's harsh summer water conditions, hybrids are excellent fighters. In addition, their white meat makes tasty table fare.
A free 90-minute seminar titled "Learning to Use Your Depth Finder to Catch More Fish" is scheduled for Thursday, 6:30 p.m.- 8 p.m. at Gander Mountain in Mooresville, Exit 36. Lake Norman fishing guide Capt. Gus Gustafson and Jake Bussollini, author of "Freshwater Fighters" will lead the discussion.For additional information, call 704-658-0822.
When spotted bass stop surface feeding over humps and underwater islands, lower a four-inch soft plastic worm to the bottom on a drop shot rig. To a spotted bass, the small worm is like giving candy to a child. Best colors are pumpkin seed and watermelon.
Hot Spots of the Week: Night fishing for catfish is good to very good. The area around the dam is also producing nice stringers of blue cats. Most are hitting cut baits suspended to depths of 60 feet. White perch are hitting over humps and along drop-offs in water 25-50 feet deep. Spotted bass continue to surface feed at dawn in boat basins and around underwater islands.
The lake level is about 3.3 feet below full pond, and the water surface temperature is in the high 80s and low 90s.