Fort Mill Times

Faux reefs help Lake Wylie fish

About 20 volunteers spent more than nine hours on the lake working to help aquatic life.

Members of Gaston Piedmont Area Wildlife Stewards, a local chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, deployed 105 fish attractors July 26. The permanent structures attract all types of fish including bass and crappie in areas marked by buoys in Lake Wylie.

Chris North, N.C. Wildlife Federation conservation coordinator, said fish are drawn to the new structures within 10 to 15 minutes.

“There is lack of structure at the bottom of the lake and this provides artificial reef for fry (baby fish) and the larger fish to be safe,” North said.

In time, algae and plankton growth brings more fish to one area.

“This is our way of giving back to wildlife and nature for our enjoyment for it,” said PAWS president Bill Jarman. “We’re all fishermen and hunters and enjoy the lake in different ways, and this will help aquatic life on Lake Wylie.”

Attractors are placed in groupings of 10 to 20 at specific sites 20 to 30 foot deep to create reefs. Last year, 95 attractors were placed at 24 sites. The new attractors include a new design, which is easier to assemble.

“We were supplementing those, basically at the same location,” North said. “Everything went smoothly.”

North said they are working to coordinate a time with volunteers to deploy the final five attractors.

“We weren’t able to do them all, we ran out of time and gas,” North said.

The fish attractors were purchased through a grant by the Habitat Enhancement Program, a cooperative initiative by Duke Energy, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to enhance, create and protect fish and wildlife habitat along the Catawba-Wateree River basin in North and South Carolina. Alan Stuart with Duke Energy said the grant was for $23,000 for fish enhancements on Wylie and other lakes, and an additional $4,374 grant to PAWS was marked for fish attractors and buoy project.

Jarman said funding also helps with osprey nest sites with 23 in place and two more to go, and an Eagle Scout buoy project. To see the fish attractor and osprey nest sites, visit gastonpaws.com.

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