Monday, June 24, 2013 —
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 19, 2013) — Fisheries biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently stocked 162,500 hybrid striped bass into Lake Norman, marking a shift in the agency’s management of the 32,510-acre reservoir from a striped bass fishery to a hybrid striped bass fishery.
Commission staff has traditionally stocked striped bass into the reservoir each year. Over the last 10 years, however, striped bass have routinely suffered from summertime kills related to habitat preferences and feeding habits of this popular sport fish.
“Striped bass follow river herring, their preferred food, to the cold, deep layer of the reservoir to feed,” said Brian McRae, the Commission’s Piedmont Region fisheries supervisor.
“However, as the summer progresses this deep layer eventually turns into a type of ‘oxygen bubble’ that is created when the middle layer of the water column loses oxygen faster than the deep layer. When the deep layer, or oxygen bubble, eventually runs out of oxygen, the fish are trapped and die.”
The hybrid striped bass that the Commission stocked today are a cross between female striped bass and male white bass. Hybrid striped bass are considered more resilient to warmer water temperatures than striped bass and generally are expected to remain in the upper layer of the lake during the summer. However, hybrid striped bass, too, will succumb to a depleted oxygen bubble if their feeding habits and summer habitat preferences mimic those of striped bass.
Before deciding to stock hybrids in Lake Norman, Commission staff met with anglers to determine angler preferences as well as reviewed literature and talked with biologists from other state and federal agencies to gain a better understanding of the summer habitat preferences of hybrid striped bass compared to striped bass.
“Recent research published in the peer-reviewed publication, ‘Biology and Management of Inland Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass,’ as well as observations from deep water striped bass kills in other reservoirs, proved very informative,” McRae said.