Striper bite is picking up on Norfork Lake
By Corky Wahl / http://www.baxterbulletin.com/
With a wet ear close to the water, what I hear is ? the striper bite is picking up.
In fact, everything that swims and sports scales seems mouthy. Red (Von Scoyoc) of Red's Guide Service reported a live bait bite (shad) from the Cranfield waters extending south.
In fact, on Friday, Red hung a 33-pounder. That gets a wowza!
Water temps are edging up and that will give them needed octane to bust a line or straighten a hook or two.
Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters recently landed several 12-pound hybrids and a 15-pound striper. A wowza goes out to Tom as well!
Both guides say pay attention to long, sloping main and secondary points. Slight to slim action is being report on trolling umbrellas at this time. However, some action on topwater toward the evening at the backs of creek arms has been reported.
Late April and early May should be fishtastic.
Now for our continuing "Ask the Biologist" segment with Arkansas Game and Fish Biologist Mark Oliver.
Q: What is the source of striped and hybrid bass stocked in Norfork Lake?
A: Ever year in early spring (usually the middle of April), the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission launches its Striped Bass Project on Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs. Fisheries' biologists from around the sate converge on the area to collect the brood stock striped bass and white bass that will be used to produce the current year's crop of striped bass and hybrid striped bass.
White bass males are collected by electrofishing during their spring run up the tributaries of Lake Ouachita and other area waters. In Arkansas, we use the milt (sperm) of white bass males and the eggs of striped bass females to produce our hybrids. Some other states use the reciprocal cross of striped bass males and white bass.
The striped bass are collected by gillnetting. Gillnets are set in areas frequented by stripers and then checked every hour for suitable fish until about 3 a.m. Any mature (and suitably sized) striped bass that are caught are loaded onto fish trucks and taken to the Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery on Lake Catherine.
At the hatchery, the female stripers are tubed ? in which a glass tube is used to draw eggs from their vents ? to check on egg development. The stripers are injected with hormones that speed up the spawning process, then placed in large tanks for holding.
The water in the tanks is highly oxygenated, temperature controlled and treated with salt to reduce the effects of handling on the stripers. When the fish are ready, fish culturists at the hatchery manually spawn them into dry pans, mixing the eggs and sperm to get maximum fertilization.
The fertilized eggs are placed in special jars that keep them gently moving. The nonviable eggs turn white and have to be cleaned out constantly to prevent the formation of fungus that could attack healthy live eggs. The eggs then are sampled periodically for condition and enumeration.
Depending on temperature, it takes about three days for the eggs to hatch. After hatching, the fry are placed in large fiberglass tanks that also have a current to keep them afloat for another three days. Because striper eggs and fry are semibuoyant, they will settle to the bottom without the right current. When they settle to the bottom, they die from suffocation and other problems.
The semibuoyancy of the eggs and fry is the primary reason why striped bass do not spawn successfully in most waters in Arkansas. The Arkansas River is the only place where spawning is very successful in this state, because it generally has the right amount of flow for a long enough distance to allow the eggs and fry to develop.
When the fry actively begin swimming and have used up their yolk sacks, they are stocked out in prepared hatchery ponds to be raised to fingerling size. The ponds have been fertilized to stimulate production of zooplankton the fry eat. Sometimes, zooplankton even are seeded into the ponds to be sure there are adequate numbers for maximum fry survival.
In about 45 days, the fingerlings are harvested by hatchery workers, loaded onto fish distribution trucks equipped with liquid oxygen diffusers and hauled to various lakes around the state.
In Norfork Lake, the fingerlings are stocked into the more fertile creek arms, such as Pigeon Creek, and have good chances of survival.