MINERAL, Va. (WFXR) — “That’s a nice one, nice hybrid,” shouted Alex McCrickard as angler Bill Thompson reeled a football-shaped fish to the boat.
McCrickard, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) Aquatic Education Coordinator, scooped up the fish in a net. It was one of several striped bass-white bass hybrids boated that warm March day on Lake Anna.
Lake Anna is a quality striped bass lake that has been enhanced by stockings of hybrid striped bass. The hybrids are a striper-white bass cross, and they are the solution to a problem at Lake Anna.
“The problem with Anna is that the habitat is not really perfect for stripers,” said DWR fisheries biologist John Odenkirk. “Especially adult stripers, they need cooler water with enough oxygen.”
At certain times of the year, that mix of cooler water with adequate oxygen can be in short supply. Pure stripers are reluctant to leave that limited “Goldilocks” range where everything is just right, and they will even stop feeding.
“They tend to get a bit emaciated,” said Odenkirk. “So, over time they won’t grow as well. They’re not going to be happy.”
Well, if you can not change water temperatures or oxygen levels, why not change “Goldilocks?”
That is where hybrid striped bass come in. They are more temperature tolerant, and they do better with varying oxygen levels.
“At Anna, the habitat is perfect for hybrids,” said Odenkirk.
Angler Bill Thompson agrees: “We fish for them the same way we fish for stripers, trolling live bait behind planer boards. They will also hit jigs and swimbaits.”
The hybrid behavior is also similar in some ways to that of striped bass.
“They’ll be found all over the lake chasing schools of blueback herring, threadfin shad, and gizzard shad,” Added McCrickard.
While the striped bass fishery at Lake Anna is good, the addition of hybrid striped bass enhances angling opportunities and will continue.
“Every single year we’re pitting in almost 100 thousand stripers and 100-thousand hybrids, which I think is near perfect,” Odenkirk said of stocking efforts at the lake. “Hopefully, and going through time, we’ll have a fishery for both.”