The NCWRC is considering stocking red drum into Hyco Lake. It’s okay if you want to read that sentence again. Yes, THAT Hyco Lake. The freshwater one that’s 3-hours away from saltwater. Sound like a crazy idea? Not really, thanks in large part to Hyco’s warmer water temperatures due to its role as a power plant cooling reservoir.
Red drum, or redfish, as they are commonly called in the Carolinas, are quite tolerant of freshwater, and are known to travel far up brackish rivers, regularly crossing north of the saltwater/freshwater dividing lines in every state with a redfish population.
The NCWRC got the idea from a stocking program in Texas, where biologists are stocking redfish into two lakes that are similar to Hyco.
According to fisheries biologist Jessica Baumann, successfully stocking redfish into freshwater lakes is dependent on three factors – none of which include having saltwater. Instead, the three necessary ingredients include a tilapia population for a food source, a minimum water temperature, and minimum calcium levels.
“Hyco Lake covers all of these requirements given that it has a robust tilapia fishery, which would be a great food source for stocked red drum, and the lake meets the minimum water temperatures and calcium levels. We believe that stocking red drum has the potential for creating a very unique fishery,” said Baumann.
Before moving forward, the Commission wants to seek input from local anglers. They have scheduled a public input meeting at the Hyco Lake Campground Community Center in Leesburg at 3 p.m. on March 12. They will discuss the possibility of stocking redfish in Hyco Lake, field questions from the public, and listen to concerns from meeting attendees.
The address for the meeting location is 205 Pointer Drive, Leesburg, N.C.