Excessive heat causes largest freshwater striped bass kill in North Carolina history

Jordan Lake kill included an estimated 7,000 fish, the NCWRC says.

Craig Holt

August 31, 2011 at 10:28 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Jordan Lake lost approximately 7,000 striped bass in a hot-water kill over the past month.
Craig Holt
Jordan Lake lost approximately 7,000 striped bass in a hot-water kill over the past month.
Excessive, prolonged heat during July and August caused the largest single striped-bass kill in freshwater history in North Carolina at Jordan Lake, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission confirmed.

Approximately 7,000 striped bass succumbed to the effects of extended 100-degree days, NCWRC District 5 fisheries biologist Corey Oakley said.

“Beginning in late July into the first two weeks of August, we began to see stripers floating, mainly in the main basin all the way to Robeson Creek,” Oakley said. “We visually counted 5,300 dead fish over a two-week period.

“(But) the actual number of dead fish is probably about 7,000, based on other fish kills and counts we have done in the past.”

Oakley said the fish simply couldn’t handle the stress of the heat, which caused water temperatures even many feet down to elevate.

“This year’s culprit was high water temperatures,” he said. “The water temperature from surface to about 20 feet in depth was greater than 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We actually had some readings during the height of the kill of 94 degrees Fahrenheit at depths of 2 to 3 feet. This is extremely warm for stripers, and is high even for Jordan Lake standards.”

Oakley said the actual cause of the deaths wasn’t the heat, but the effect the heat had on the fish had to be a major factor.

“It was really hot for a long time, and basically the stripers couldn’t eat enough food to maintain themselves and their weight,” Oakley said. “They couldn’t eat enough to overcome the metabolic demands of the high water temperature.

“They basically starved to death.”

During one stretch from mid-June to mid-August, the top 10 feet of the water in the relatively shallow lake had a temperature of 90 degrees, Oakley said.

“There was plenty of oxygen in Jordan Lake; it’s just that the heat really stressed out the stripers,” he said. “Lack of oxygen wasn’t a problem this year; it was strictly heat.”

Oakley called Jordan “a really shallow bath tub.”

“We couldn’t find any cold spots in the lake at all,” he said.

Striped bass prefer water that’s 55 to 68 degrees, but they are active in saltwater temperatures as low as 45 degrees.

“One problem is, we don’t have a lot of incoming fresh water this time of year,” Oakley said. “The Haw River is basically a ‘flash’ (downpour) system.”

He said bigger stripers are less able to withstand prolonged high water temperatures than smaller fish, and that most of the biggest stripers that succumbed topped out at about 14 pounds.

“They ranged from 2 to 14 pounds,” Oakley said, discounting rumors of dead 20-pounders, a size the lake has never produced.

“A 20-pound striper never has been seen at Jordan,” he said.

The lake record is 18 pounds, 8 ounces.

Oakley said there actually could be a upside to the kill, although the hot temps make everything a question mark.

“Often a thinning of the herd will allow the fish left behind to grow faster, but hot summers will impede these guys from getting large,” he said. “We can only pray for cooler summers and more rain.

“The kill has subsided, but could come back again if the water temps rise again. The fish are already stressed and struggling, and it won’t take much to put them over the edge again.”

The Commission plans to continue stocking its annual 70,000 fingerlings into Jordan Lake during the spring of 2012.

If you're a Jordan Lake angler, let us know what you've seen by posting reports and photos about the kill on our fishing forum.

If you're not already a NorthCarolinaSportsman.com member, it only takes a few moments to fill out the short registration form!


View other articles written Craig Holt


Reports / Forum
Sport fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 10:39 am | 1027 Views | 0 Comments
Take a tree stand, please  This report contains photos  
April 20 at 1:21 pm | 729 Views | 0 Comments
Heaviest bird yet  This report contains photos  
April 19 at 9:31 am | 727 Views | 0 Comments
Autumn Evans first Turkey its a family Tradition  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 8:03 pm | 687 Views | 2 Comments
TAGGED OUT!!  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 6:43 am | 615 Views | 2 Comments
Catawba Catfish Club Lake Wateree,SC 5-3-14 Tournament 
April 19 at 5:15 pm | 613 Views | 0 Comments
Double with Golden  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:45 pm | 523 Views | 0 Comments
weyerhaeuser hunting land 
April 19 at 2:12 pm | 507 Views | 0 Comments
Youth Day  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 11:10 am | 491 Views | 1 Comments
GT and Viper 
April 21 at 7:46 pm | 415 Views | 4 Comments
First turkey and with a bow!  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 3:29 pm | 389 Views | 0 Comments
Boats Unlimited NC Team Trail Q4 results..Falls Lake..Apr. 12th  This report contains photos  
April 18 at 6:15 am | 361 Views | 0 Comments
Golden Wings  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:42 pm | 327 Views | 0 Comments
Paisley's first turkey 
April 18 at 10:59 am | 323 Views | 0 Comments
Cold, Rainy and Windy Tough on Fishing 
April 20 at 2:23 pm | 301 Views | 0 Comments
Fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 9:18 am | 259 Views | 0 Comments
taking the boat and 2 year old out(high rock lake) 
April 19 at 1:55 pm | 235 Views | 0 Comments
Tagged Out!  This report contains photos  
4 hours ago | 45 Views | 0 Comments
First Gobbler!  This report contains photos  
4 hours ago | 45 Views | 0 Comments
Post | Reports | Forum
GT and Viper 
April 21 at 7:46 pm | 415 Views | 4 Comments
Autumn Evans first Turkey its a family Tradition  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 8:03 pm | 687 Views | 2 Comments
TAGGED OUT!!  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 6:43 am | 615 Views | 2 Comments
Youth Day  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 11:10 am | 491 Views | 1 Comments
Tagged Out!  This report contains photos  
4 hours ago | 45 Views | 0 Comments
First Gobbler!  This report contains photos  
4 hours ago | 45 Views | 0 Comments
Golden Wings  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:42 pm | 327 Views | 0 Comments
First turkey and with a bow!  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 3:29 pm | 389 Views | 0 Comments
Fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 9:18 am | 259 Views | 0 Comments
Cold, Rainy and Windy Tough on Fishing 
April 20 at 2:23 pm | 301 Views | 0 Comments
Take a tree stand, please  This report contains photos  
April 20 at 1:21 pm | 729 Views | 0 Comments
Catawba Catfish Club Lake Wateree,SC 5-3-14 Tournament 
April 19 at 5:15 pm | 613 Views | 0 Comments
weyerhaeuser hunting land 
April 19 at 2:12 pm | 507 Views | 0 Comments
taking the boat and 2 year old out(high rock lake) 
April 19 at 1:55 pm | 235 Views | 0 Comments
Heaviest bird yet  This report contains photos  
April 19 at 9:31 am | 727 Views | 0 Comments
Paisley's first turkey 
April 18 at 10:59 am | 323 Views | 0 Comments
Boats Unlimited NC Team Trail Q4 results..Falls Lake..Apr. 12th  This report contains photos  
April 18 at 6:15 am | 361 Views | 0 Comments
Sport fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 10:39 am | 1027 Views | 0 Comments
Double with Golden  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:45 pm | 523 Views | 0 Comments
Post | Reports | Forum
Tagged Out!  This report contains photos  
4 hours ago | 45 Views | 0 Comments
First Gobbler!  This report contains photos  
4 hours ago | 45 Views | 0 Comments
GT and Viper 
April 21 at 7:46 pm | 415 Views | 4 Comments
Double with Golden  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:45 pm | 523 Views | 0 Comments
Golden Wings  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:42 pm | 327 Views | 0 Comments
First turkey and with a bow!  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 3:29 pm | 389 Views | 0 Comments
Fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 9:18 am | 259 Views | 0 Comments
Cold, Rainy and Windy Tough on Fishing 
April 20 at 2:23 pm | 301 Views | 0 Comments
Take a tree stand, please  This report contains photos  
April 20 at 1:21 pm | 729 Views | 0 Comments
Catawba Catfish Club Lake Wateree,SC 5-3-14 Tournament 
April 19 at 5:15 pm | 613 Views | 0 Comments
weyerhaeuser hunting land 
April 19 at 2:12 pm | 507 Views | 0 Comments
taking the boat and 2 year old out(high rock lake) 
April 19 at 1:55 pm | 235 Views | 0 Comments
Heaviest bird yet  This report contains photos  
April 19 at 9:31 am | 727 Views | 0 Comments
Paisley's first turkey 
April 18 at 10:59 am | 323 Views | 0 Comments
Boats Unlimited NC Team Trail Q4 results..Falls Lake..Apr. 12th  This report contains photos  
April 18 at 6:15 am | 361 Views | 0 Comments
Autumn Evans first Turkey its a family Tradition  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 8:03 pm | 687 Views | 2 Comments
Youth Day  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 11:10 am | 491 Views | 1 Comments
Sport fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 10:39 am | 1027 Views | 0 Comments
TAGGED OUT!!  This report contains photos  
April 17 at 6:43 am | 615 Views | 2 Comments
Post | Reports | Forum

Free Classifieds

G3 Gator Tough 1860 CC Tunnel
G3 Gator Tough 1860 CC Tunnel
70hp Yamaha 4 stroke with 6' jack plate, only 25 hours. 2012 custom fit float on/off trailer w/removable tongue, Mossy oak W/ Bimini top. Fish finder, GPS, 55lb Min Kota trolling motor, live well, cooler bench seat with leaning post, two lockable...
April 19 at 11:35 am | 157 Views
NEW REMINGTON 870 TACTICAL/ULTIMATE COMBAT SHOTGUN
NEW REMINGTON 870 TACTICAL/ULTIMATE COMBAT SHOTGUN
This new 870 was built for one purpose to save your life or your family's. It has form function and reliability. Has a Mesa Tactical recoil reducing 6 position stock. There is no felt recoil even with 3 inch buck plus the stock is comfortable in...
12 hours ago | 20 Views
Still Hunting Deer Club
Still Hunting Deer Club
Membership available in still hunting deer club for the 2014-15 season. Club has almost 4,000 acres of leased land and owns 55 acres with a two story club house. Club is located in Warren county about 5 miles from Littleton. Club dues are $725.00....
April 21 at 7:43 am | 113 Views
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Excellent Desert Eagle 40 caliber Hand Gun For Sale,6 ' barrel,semi rnrnautomatic,& made by Magnum Research,right here in the USA,& comes with 1-7 rnrnround magazine, super heavy duty fitted carry case with soft rummer rnrninside,take down...
April 20 at 3:18 am | 51 Views
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Excellent Desert Eagle 40 caliber Hand Gun For Sale,6 ' barrel,semi rnrnautomatic,& made by Magnum Research,right here in the USA,& comes with 1-7 rnrnround magazine, super heavy duty fitted carry case with soft rummer rnrninside,take down...
April 20 at 3:13 am | 33 Views
MDBR Hunting Club has 4 openings!
MDBR Hunting Club has 4 openings!
MDBR Hunting Club is a small 10 member club with a 350 acre lease near Gulf, NC (Chatham County). No Dog Hunting in Chatham county! Very peaceful area! Membership dues pay for lease & insurance. Anyone interested should visit our website at...
Yesterday at 1:41 pm | 28 Views