The Spotted Bass State Record That Wasn’t

  • 19 April 2012
  • Number of views: 13760

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 19, 2012) — It was a big fish and a nice catch for Surry County angler Terry Trivette. It was not, however, the new spotted bass state record.  

Results from genetic testing conducted on Trivette’s catch came back last Friday and determined that the fish he caught from Lake Norman on Feb. 11 was not a pure spotted bass but rather a hybrid from a largemouth bass female and spotted bass male.

Because the fish, which currently swims in Bass Pro Shops’ 23,000-gallon freshwater tank in Concord, N.C., is a hybrid, it doesn’t qualify for a state record. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Freshwater Fishing State Record Program does not recognize hybrids, with the exception of hybrid striped bass, which are produced and stocked by the agency. 

Trivette caught the fish on a Rapala DT-6 crankbait. He contacted Commission staff for a verification of the species. Kin Hodges and Brian McRae, biologists with the Commission’s Division of Inland Fisheries, met with Trivette on Feb. 12 and 13. After careful inspection of the fish, both biologists determined that most of the fish’s characteristics were consistent with a hybrid between a largemouth bass and a spotted bass — an increasingly common occurrence, particularly in larger reservoirs where spotted bass have been introduced. 

To confirm their identification, Hodges took a small piece of the fish’s fin and shipped it on Feb. 15 to Dr. Joe Quattro, a professor in the Marine Science Program and Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina, for testing. Genetic analysis on a fin clip takes a few weeks; however, it is the best method of determining a fish’s genetics that does minimal damage to the fish and keeps it alive.

The Wildlife Commission received results of Dr. Quattro’s genetic analysis of Trivette’s catch on April 13.

Lake Norman’s Bass Fishery

Lake Norman, a 32,475 -acre reservoir located in Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln and Mecklenburg counties, is well known for its largemouth bass and striped bass fisheries but it has a growing spotted bass fishery as well, due to introductions of spotted bass by well-intentioned anglers who want to “improve the bass fishery.”

However, instead of improving a fishery, introductions of fish into waters where they are not found can have unintended effects. In the case of spotted bass, they often compete with other black basses and alter their genetics when they interbreed, as was the case with Trivette’s fish. Eventually, spotted bass can replace a largemouth bass fishery. 

“While hybridization of spotted bass with other black bass species makes it tough to identify state record submissions like this one, the larger issue is that we run the risk of seeing diminished black bass fisheries in the future unless anglers quit moving spotted bass into new lakes where they frequently have negative impacts on the existing populations of largemouth or smallmouth bass,” Hodges said. “The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is responsible for the stocking of fish into the public waters of North Carolina.”

Individuals interested in stocking public waters must apply to the Commission for a stocking permit. The agency makes decisions about stockings only after carefully considering the potential biological impacts of adding any new species to a system.

“All stockings conducted by anglers without a valid stocking permit, such as the spotted bass that were introduced into Lake Norman, are illegal,” Hodges said. 

For more information on the Commission’s Freshwater Fishing State Record Program or fishing in public, inland waters, visit the fishing page.

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Jodie B. owen
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