NCWRC installs shallow-water fish habitat on Harris Lake

habitat
The habitat improvement project included sinking "trees" made of PVC material.

Bass angler catch rates should improve thanks to habitat project

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission created three new shallow-water fishing coves in Shearon Harris Lake in Chatham and Wake counties this week. This is the first time these types of habitat coves have been introduced in the state and should help improve angler catch rates.

Largemouth bass prefer structure with high vertical profiles and aquatic vegetation. They use points, humps and woody debris to ambush prey. Taking that into consideration, agency biologists decided Harris Lake was the ideal reservoir to place fish attractors in shallow-water coves.

“We’ve already installed 350 structures in the lake and we are very excited about creating these new shallow-water fishing coves,” stated Mark Fowlkes, Piedmont aquatic habitat coordinator with the Wildlife Commission. “We haven’t created habitat coves in shallow water before because tall structures present major boating hazards. However, since Harris Lake is not a residential lake and the mouth of the shallow-water fishing coves will be clearly marked with cautionary buoys, it’s the ideal test environment.”

Bass begin using new habitat immediately

Just over 300 fish attractors were placed into the fishing coves. Artificial fish attractors are usually made with PVC and installed in 12 – 20 feet of water so they don’t interfere with boat motors, props or other recreational water activities. The fish attractors in the shallow water coves will also be made with PVC and will range in height from 2 – 10 feet tall.

“We’re trying to establish vertical habitat at a variety of depths in these fishing coves. There will be an overload of structure in each cove but strategically placed to enhance existing features. A jungle gym of sorts,” said Fowlkes. “We expect bass to start using the habitat structures immediately. In our experience, if you build it, they will come.”

If this experiment works, more cove structures could be implemented throughout the state. For an interactive map of fish attractors found throughout the state, visit ncwildlife.org/Fishing/Where-to-Fish.

More information about the Harris Lake Habitat Management plan, click here.

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