N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stock Northeast Cape Fear River with largemouth bass

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stock Northeast Cape Fear River with largemouth bass
Wildlife Commission fisheries staff stock largemouth bass fingerlings into the Northeast Cape Fear River to help jumpstart a fishery decimated by Hurricane Florence in 2018 (Source: Kyle Rachels/NCWRC)

CASTLE HAYNE, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) fisheries biologists recently restocked the Cape Fear River with 134,000 largemouth bass fingerlings to help jump-start the fishery.

The 1.5-inch-long fingerlings were released from boats by biologists into approximately 30 miles of river near Holly Shelter and Castle Hayne, a previously identified ideal nursery habitat.

In 2018, the Cape Fear River fishery was depleted by Hurricane Florence and many local anglers and fishing clubs wanted to help replenish the stock.

Club members raised $4,000 in proceeds and this was matched, three-to-one, with federal dollars.

“We’re just happy to have been able to contribute in this way, promoting the rebound of our local fisheries,” said Aaron Dennis, a member of the Team Bassmasters Fishing Club.

Adult broodfish were collected in the spring by biologists and staff at the Watha State Fish Hatchery in Pender County used the broodfish to produce fingerlings.

Fisheries staff are using parentage-based tagging to trace the fish stock.

“The parentage-based tagging technique is pretty much identical to a paternity test, with basically 100 percent accuracy, no tag loss, and no tagging-induced mortality,” said Kyle Rachels, a fisheries biologist.

Identifying the fish using this nonlethal technique will create results that will help guide management actions after future hurricanes.

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