Illegal Hybrid Bass Found in Lake Chesdin of Virginia
Eugene L. 12.19.22
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has recently found a surprise catch during their annual sampling of Lake Chesdin. At this 3,100-acre reservoir on the Chesterfield/Dinwiddie County line, the DWR staff were surprised when they caught a hybrid bass in the reservoir. And while stocking fish is a very old practice for the DWR, with them regularly utilizing this technique to manage certain fisheries across the state. They stock everything from coldwater species like trout to more temperate species like walleye and stripers. The DWR has nice hatcheries to rear millions of fish every year. So when they run into a species that they never stocked in a body of water, it’s quite a surprise.
Hybrid stripers, also known as wipers or hybrid bass, as a cross of striped bass and a white bass. They have similar coloration to striped bass but have a deeper body shape and a smaller head than striped bass. Their lateral stripes are broken along their length as well. The hybrid bass is only stocked by the DWR in a few very specific waters each year. This is because if a hybrid bass escapes from its stocked lake into a tidal river, it can potentially breed with the Chesapeake Bay strain of striped bass. This would pollute the genetic integrity of the valuable and treasured fishery.
Because spillover can happen at the Brasfield Dam, Lake Chesdin fish can and will spill over into the Appomattox River below. This could introduce hybrid striped bass into the tidal James River, and eventually have hybrid bass interacting with striped bass moving up the river to spawn in the spring. Due to this risk stocking of Hybrid was stopped at Lake Chesdin. So for the future of the imperiled striped bass, the DWR is asking and advising the public to not introduce hybrid bass back into Lake Chesdin.
As a reminder to all anglers, 4VAC 15-320-60 states that it is unlawful to stock any species of fish into any public inland waters of the Commonwealth without first obtaining written approval to do so from the Department of Wildlife Resources. Additionally, 4 VAC 20-252-210 specifically prohibits the release of live striped bass and live hybrid striped bass in the waters of the Commonwealth from an aquaculture facility located within or outside the Commonwealth without written permission from the Commissioner of Marine Resources. Stocking fish without obtaining the proper permits is unlawful and punishable by up to 6 months in jail time and up to $1,000 fine §§ 29.1-103
If you encounter a hybrid striped bass in Lake Chesdin or in one of the Chesapeake Bay tidal tributaries, you can help by reporting it to 804-829-6580 or email [email protected] Visit dwr.virginia.gov/fishing/ for more information about hybrid striped bass and our stocking program. Further, if you know of or see a wildlife violation, please call 1-800-237-5712 or email [email protected].