Striped bass at Kerr Reservoir along the North Carolina-Virginia border are apparently recovering nicely from a parasite that wiped out a large portion of the population seven or eight years ago – if recent catches are any indication.

Fisherman Jerry Hill of Lexington said striper numbers appear to be great, even if they haven’t attained the size of fish caught before the copepods or “gill maggots” caused a major fish kill around 2006.

“There are a ton of small stripers in the lake now,” said Hill, who normally guides for stripers on High Rock and Badin lakes on the Yadkin River system.

But he won a Tarheel Striper Club tournament at Kerr, aka Buggs Island, two weeks ago, with three fish weighing 24.85 pounds, including a 10.25-pound big fish.

“We had that one, one over 9 pounds and also caught a 5 ½- and 6-pounder,” said Hill, who fished with partner Robert Moss of Trinity.

Catches like those are sure to warm the hearts of longtime Kerr striper fishermen, who have endured a couple of years catching nothing but fish weighing between two and six pounds.

Normally an artificial-lure troller at High Rock, Badin and Lake Tillery, Hill said he had to adjust at Kerr.

“Robert talked me into live-baiting, and now my buddies are kidding me I’ll have to put a bait tank on my boat,” he said. “But (live-baiting) is something I’ve never done, although I have to say it worked out pretty well.”

Hill and Moss slow-trolled points and humps pulling free lines with 6-inch gizzard shad in 40 to 44 feet of water from Satterwhite Point to Henderson Point in the Nutbush Creek arm of the 49,500-acre lake.