NCWRC stocking hybrid stripers in Hyco Lake

Hyco Lake hybrids
The NCWRC stocked over 37,000 fingerlings of hybrid striped bass in Hyco Lake. (photo courtesy of William Sasser)

The stockings will establish a new fishery on Hyco

The NCWRC has begun stocking hybrid striped bass in Hyco Lake. This will give anglers a unique fishing opportunity. The agency did their first stocking on June 19 with 37,500 fingerlings.

The fingerlings are between 1 and 2 inches long. And because these fish grow quickly, the lake should have some harvestable fish within two years. The lake will have a minimum size limit of 16 inches on the hybrid stripers, which are also called Bodie bass. Anglers will have a daily creel limit of four fish.

Bodie bass are hybrids of striped bass and white bass. The striped bass gene allows them to grow larger than white bass. They can withstand higher water temperatures than striped bass thanks to their white bass genetics.

Tilapia population sets up interesting dynamic

District 5 Fisheries Biologist Kelsey Lincoln is interested to see how the Bodie bass interact with the lake’s tilapia population. Tilapia have been a problem in the lake for several years. The tropical fish escaped from research pens, invading the lake. Hyco’s year-round warm water thanks to the power plant keeps them safe from winter temperatures.

Tilapia bully native gamefish populations and have a negative impact on lakes like Hyco. And they offer little sport for anglers. Tilapia eat mostly plants and algae, so don’t often bite lures or bait. The NCWRC believes tilapia are responsible for the stunted growth of gamefish like bass and crappie at Hyco. But the presence of hybrid stripers could help level the playing field.

“Adult Bodie bass are a schooling fish typically found in open water searching for shad or other prey fishes. In Hyco Lake, tilapia may provide an additional food source not found in other reservoirs in the state. This possible predator-and-prey interaction could make for some fun fishing opportunities for anglers,” said Lincoln.

NCWRC almost stocked Hyco with redfish

The NCWRC flirted with the idea of stocking Hyco with redfish a/k/a red drum, a saltwater fish which has the unique ability to live in freshwater under certain circumstances. While Hyco Lake met all circumstances, redfish failed to thrive in water samples taken from the lake. So the agency turned to Bodie bass, which are stocked in numerous waters throughout the state, including Lake Norman.

Bodie bass are popular among anglers. Commonly reaching 5 pounds, these fish respond well to a variety of lures and live bait. They are fun and challenging to tussle with, and provide great table fare.

The NCWRC will monitor the stocked fish throughout the next 12 months. They will perform a second stocking next summer at a rate to be determined based on numerous factors.

Click here for tips on catching hybrids in Lake Norman.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1402 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.