The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

August 27, 2013

Wildlife Commission Enhances Fish Habitat in Lake James

CNHI News Service

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 — MARION, N.C. — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently constructed two large boulder reefs and deployed 40 fish attractors in Lake James to enhance fish habitat and attract fish for anglers.


Each boulder reef contains approximately 130 tons of boulders and covers an area that measures 30 feet by 80 feet. Commission staff constructed the reefs to add complex habitat to an otherwise habitat-poor section of Lake James, a 6,812-acre reservoir located in Burke and McDowell counties.


The reefs were positioned off key lake points that lacked quality habitat but tend to receive high levels of fishing pressure. The first site is near Camp Lake James on the Catawba side of the reservoir and the second is in Mill Creek, also known as “Long Arm,” on the Linville side of the reservoir.


“The two rock reefs should be excellent locations for anglers to target largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleye,” said Chris Wood, a Commission fisheries biologist who spearheaded the project.

“Walleye, in particular, are often caught on structure associated with deep points. The rock reefs were constructed on points in 20 to 25 feet of water in areas previously lacking substantial structure, but the points were perfect for enhancing because they offer fish access to both shallow shoreline habitat and the deep river channel. Walleye and bass should occupy these lake points now that we have added the rock reefs.”


Wildlife Commission staff also deployed 40 Honey Hole fish attractors at various sites throughout the lake. These artificial attractors are shaped similar to a Christmas tree and composed of hard plastic. Since 2010, staff has deployed more than 100 Honey Hole fish attractors at nearly a dozen sites on Lake James. Each site contains five to 10 attractors and is marked with a Wildlife Commission fish attractor buoy.


“Lake James contains good populations of crappie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass and walleye,” Wood said.

“By deploying these fish attractors and constructing boulder reefs, we are enhancing fish habitat and offering specific areas for anglers to target.  These areas should concentrate fish during certain times of the year, which may improve catch rates and the overall fishing experience.”


The project was funded through a Catawba-Wateree Habitat Enhancement Program (HEP) grant. The program is a cooperative effort between the Commission, Duke Power and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.


The Commission has received almost $100,000 from the Catawba-Wateree Habitat Enhancement Program over the past five years to enhance fish habitat in Catawba River reservoirs.


The Commission, along with several cooperators, has placed fish attractors in public lakes and ponds throughout the state. Visit the Fish Attractor Map and Coordinates for a complete list of fish attractor sites. For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the Fishing page.      


About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities. To learn more, visit