Hybrid Striped Bass
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission began stocking fingerling hybrid striped bass in place of striped bass in Lake Norman beginning in 2013. The reason for the change was simple; stripers were having a difficult time surviving when Lake Norman’s water surface temperatures passed ninety degrees, which it does in July and August most years. After years of summer fish kills the discussion to replace them with the hardier hybrid striped bass was made in 2012.
Hybrid striped bass are artificially propagated by crossing striped and white bass. The end results are a fast growing agile gamefish that spend most of its life cruising in schools and pursuing forage fish. The fact that hybrids can withstand high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels makes them an ideal addition to Lake Norman’s fishery. The average life span of hybrids is five to six years and their typical weight is between two and five pounds. How big Norman’s hybrids will grow is anybody’s guess, but seven pounders have been verified, leaving some to imagine ten pounders are in the offering. The state record is 17 pounds, 7 ounces, caught from Lake Chatuge in Western North Carolina on March 15, 1996.
Fishing techniques are similar to those employed to catch their parents. Casting or trolling artificial lures is effective as is deep jigging with spoons. Drifting live baits and bottom fishing with cut baits is also productive at times. But, by far, the most popular method is casting lures into the fracas when hybrids are feeding on the surface. The same tackle used to tempt bass and stripers will take hybrids, just down size the baits a bit since they have small mouths.
Early fall hybrid action can occur anywhere, but the island area north of the Lake Norman State Park is a good starting point. Anglers fishing below Highway 150 will find hybrids feeding in Mountain, Little and Beaver Dam Creeks. The best time to find surface feeding is at dawn and dusk. That is why serious fishermen are on the water before daylight, knowing that the bite is often in full swing at sunrise.
Note: Note: Hybrids are easily mistaken for white perch, because they are similar in size, color and shape. If it looks like a white perch but has broken lateral lines along its body, it is more than likely a hybrid and must be released if less than 16” in length. The daily creel limit is four hybrid striped bass in aggregate with striped bass. The minimum size limit for both species is sixteen inches.
Capt. Gus suggests fishing for hybrids during the colder months, that’s when they are most active. The bite continues through the spring than slows during the summer. Call 704-617-6812 or book your trip online today for great hybrid fishing with Capt. Gus.
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