In 2012, when the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission decided to quit stocking striped bass in Lake Norman, that probably wasn’t the best news for Bob Curan, who grew up fishing for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay before moving to North Carolina in 1997 and putting in 15 years learning the 32,500-acre lake north of Charlotte.
Of course, it probably didn’t hurt his feelings that the Commission decided to replace them with hybrid bass, which are as close in habit to stripers as any other fish, being a laboratory cross between a female striped bass and a male white bass.
In fact, Curan took to the hybrids so much that in July 2015, he opened a guide business, Fishin’ Lake Norman, with his favorite target being hybrids, which offer a superior-quality fight, grow fast and are willing to bite.
With the Commission stocking 167,500 hybrid fingerlings annually in Norman, beginning in 2013, the fish began to thrive almost immediately, In just two years, anglers started catching 12- to 15-inch fish regularly, with a few larger fish mixed in. Most weighed between one and three pounds, with an occasional 4- to 6-pounder showing up.
Curan’s years of experience fishing for stripers served as an apprenticeship for catching hybrid bass. Fishing for hybrids is similar to fishing for striped bass, with many of the same techniques coming into play.
Though hybrids are willing biters, they’re not homesteaders. Like stripers, they prefer to roam in open water, which makes finding them a daunting task considering Norman’s size. Like other Lake Norman guides, Curan spends hours motoring around the lake, viewing his side-scan sonar unit for schools of hybrids. Since they are new to the lake, consistent patterns of movement have yet to be