Bodie Bass To Hyco Lake

Chris Maroldy

Two things to look forward to: It looks like they might be doing something about the bottleneck that 15-501 has become in Chapel Hill, and Bodie bass are being stocked in Hyco Lake.

No offense to my friends in the Highway Department, but this means that in three or four years we might have something. (Hey, guys—As they say in Louisiana when various rankings come out, “Thank God for Missis­sippi.” Having not been to Mississippi in a very long time, I cannot attest to the present condition of the roads, though, so let’s just bow up against Pennsylvania or South Carolina. The shovel-leaners there have always had their work cut out for them, and the position seems perpetual.)

The Bodie bass introduction is less of a Christmas miracle than a testament to the “on-top-of-it” attitude that the NC Wildlife Resources Commission displays more often than not. Though it has certainly made its fair share of boneheaded decisions—don’t get me started on the hash they’ve made of the archery deer season—eight or nine times out of ten they do NC hunters and fishermen proud. All you need to do is spend some time around sportsmen from other parts of the country to know that Tar Heels have little to complain about. (I’m looking at you again, Pee-Ay.)

I fish Hyco only rarely, but I know a couple of guys who do well there on largemouth bass. My impression has been that the fishing has been in decline lately, though, perhaps due to the accidental introduction of tilapia, which are providing aggressive competition in the food chain. A healthy Bodie bass fishery would be a huge boost to the lake, and to the area’s fish scene in general. I know I’m not the only one who really, really misses the healthy hy­brids of Jordan Lake in days of yore.

A cross between the white bass and strip­er, the Bodie is most often called “hybrid” or “wiper” colloquially, and it is a blast to fish for. It is a schooling, mainly open-water fish with a tendency to surface frenzies. Striking like a freight train and running hard, Bodie bass like to let you know when you’ve hooked them.

Hybrid bass also grow much larger than white bass, and can withstand warmer water temperatures than stripers. This second point might make them ideal for a hot-hole lake like Hyco, and probably sealed the deal as biologists were looking around for a species to introduce to enhance the reservoir’s health.

I have heard some concern about illegal introduction of spotted bass to Hyco, but it is hard to gauge just how worrying this is at present. (Spotted bass have a tendency to overwhelm largemouth fisheries, something almost no one ever wants in any fishing hole.) There was also some experimentation with redfish (spot-tail, drum, etc.), a saltwater species which can live in sweetwater under some circumstances, but this ultimately failed.

We’ll see how Bodie bass help with the tilapia problem. So far no one seems to have an opinion chiseled in stone.

In the meantime, though, we’re going to have fun finding out.