On January 28, Jarrett Thorne, a student at NC State University, was shocked when he pulled a large flounder from the fresh waters of Sutton Lake, near Wilmington. Thorne, who is from Wilson, said he travels to the lake fairly often in pursuit of bass and catfish, but never envisioned plucking a flounder from the warm waters.
“I caught the flounder in the very back of the back pond by the power plant. She was right up along the wood walk-way that blocks off the plant from the pond,” Thorne said. “She was almost 19 1/2 inches long.”
Thorne said he was fishing a 5 inch green worm on a Carolina rig, when the misplaced flatfish struck.
“I almost feel sorry for keeping her,” Thorn said. “When we cleaned her, we found she was full of eggs! Perhaps I should have thrown her back so others could maybe have the same experience we did some day.”
This isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last flounder caught in the impounded freshwater lake. Sutton Lake is the containment lake for the cooling water for the Sutton Electric Plant, a Progress Energy facility just outside of Wilmington.
Several possible explanations were offered for the flounder being in Sutton Lake, but the most plausible is they moved in during a low salinity period when the lake was being constructed and became trapped when the dike separating the lake and the Cape Fear River was completed.
As stated earlier, this isn’t the first flounder caught in Sutton Lake and if there are several who are spawning, it won’t be the last. A female flounder of 19 1/2 inches should have already spawned several times, so there should be some smaller flounder growing in the lake.
Hopefully the flounder fry escape the ravenous appetites of the bass, flathead and channel catfish in Sutton Lake.
An article in the Februry North Carolina Sportsman Magazine highlights Sutton Lake as a top spot for February fishing along the southern N.C. coast. That article features the bass and catfish populations in the lake, not flounder. Flounder are definitely an unexpected bonus in Sutton Lake.