CHURCH ROAD, Va. (WFXR) — There is an invader in an impoundment on the Appomattox River; an invader that could threaten the genetic integrity of the Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay striped bass.

That invader is the hybrid striped bass, a cross between a white bass and a striped bass. That hybrid species has been found in Lake Chesdin, a reservoir on the Appomattox, and part of the Chesapeake Bay drainage.

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) found two of the hybrid fish in the reservoir recently, and fisheries managers think there are more.

Since the state does not stock Chesdin with hybrid striped bass, they are believed to have been put there by a private citizen. Stocking fish into public waters without state authorization is illegal.

Fisheries managers do not want hybrid genetics mingling with native striped bass genetics.

“We don’t want anything to interfere with the genetic processes that function within the Chesapeake Bay,” said DWR Chief of Fisheries Mike Bednarski. “The fish that are in the bay are adapted to the bay, to that lifestyle, and any sort of back-crossing or genetic pollution, if you will, coming from those hybrid striped bass could be detrimental to the population as a whole, if the degree of backcrossing was large enough.”

While someone may think they are doing something good by putting fish into a body of water without authorization, they could actually be doing harm.

“It’s important to recognize that there can be really big consequences to moving fish around,” Bednarski said. “The issues we face with invasive fish in Virginia, fish like Alabama bass and northern snakehead are really driven by folks moving them around and trying to establish fishing opportunities, but not thinking of the consequences that can result from the introduction of these fishes.

Some of those consequences can result invasive species outcompeting native species for forage and habitat, or even preying on native species.

“Once these fish get in there, you can’t undo it,” Bednarski added. “It’s very difficult to reverse a stocking once an invasive species gets established.”

In the case of hybrid striped bass in Lake Chesdin, Bednarski says the situation will be monitored to determine how severe the the infiltration is, and then remedial action could be taken.

In the meantime, anglers can help. If someone catches a fish they believe is a hybrid striped bass from Lake Chesdin or the Appomattox River, they should take a photo and report it to DWR. There is more on how to identify a hybrid stiped bass here.

Hybrids tend to be chunkier than striped bass, and they have several broken lines along their sides.

A hybrid striped bass taken from Lake Chesdin

There are two lakes in Virginia where hybrid striped bass are stocked, Lake Anna and Claytor Lake.