Anglers have reported catches of small hybrid striped bass in Lake Norman since October.
The hybrid, a cross between a striped bass and a white bass, is being hooked by fishermen targeting crappie, white perch and spotted bass using small jigs, spoons and live crappie minnows.
The newest addition to Lake Norman's growing fish population are too small to keep at this time, but will grow to 7 pounds or more at maturity.
How they got into Lake Norman is anybody's guess. The important fact is that hybrid striped bass are living here and are being caught.
Commonly called hybrids by area anglers, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission classifies them as Bodie Bass, named after Bodie McDowell, a retired Public Information Officer for the NCWRC.
Based on information provided by growth charts, anglers can expect the fast growing hybrid to grow 11 to 15 inches in length by the spring of 2012, and gain an additional 6 inches by the spring of 2013. A typical 2-year-old hybrid in other lakes, weighs between 2 and 3 pounds and fights with more tenacity than a spotted bass.
The presence of hybrids in Lake Norman is not only a surprise to anglers, who did not expect stocking to begin until the spring of 2012, but to the NCWRC as well.
When asked, Brain McRea of the NCWRC said, "The hybrids in Lake Norman were not stocked by the NCWRC. However, serious consideration is being given to supplementing next year's (2012) annual striped bass stocking with a quantity of hybrids."
Hybrids are a popular game fish stocked in other impoundments in both North and South Carolina.
They travel and feed in schools, much the same way as their parents, the white and striped bass.
Known for their explosive strikes and tackle bursting ability, anglers are excited about their introduction to Lake Norman. While fishing techniques vary by location, most are caught using similar tactics to those used to lure striped bass.
The fact that reports of hybrids are being caught in different areas of Lake Norman, indicate that a great many fish were put in the lake at multiple locations. Based on their size (8 to 10 inches), they were likely stocked earlier this year.
Note: Don't confuse hybrids with white perch, since they are similar in size, color and shape. If it looks like a white perch but has broken lateral lines, it is more than likely a hybrid and must be released if less than 16 inches in length.
Tips from Capt. Gus
Lake Norman's hybrid striped bass size limit is 16 inches and the creel limit is four fish (in combination with striped bass) from Oct. 1-May 31.
Hot spots of the week
Crappie fishing is excellent for those fishing now. Crappie minnows are the baits of choice and fishing is best around submerged brush. Spotted bass are everywhere. Large schools are feeding on suspended baitfish in most coves with 20 to 40 feet of water. Those casting the banks are catching limits off points and docks adjacent to deep water. White perch continue to be the target fish for families looking for something easy to catch, clean and eat.
The lake level on Lake Norman is about 1.3 feet from full pond and down 3.3 feet on Mountain Island Lake. The water's surface temperature is in the 50's.