Fisheries Biologists Justin Homan and Justin Dycus sampled the Neuse River on May 13 and 16, capturing a total of 102 American shad and 57 striped bass. They electrofished two sections of the Neuse — in Raleigh, from the old U.S. 64 bridge downstream to the confluence with Crabtree Creek, and in Goldsboro, from the Wildlife Commission’s Cox’s Ferry boat ramp downstream to the Commission’s Steven’s Mill boat ramp.
Most notable about this week’s sampling efforts was that they marked the 1,000th American shad Homan and Dycus have caught this year in Goldsboro. “Since 2005, we usually average around 500 fish per /year from our sites in Raleigh and Goldsboro, so 2013 may reflect an increase in American shad abundance on the spawning grounds,” Homan said. “We’ll know more after we conclude our sampling and have a chance to take a closer look at the data.”
Largest fish sampled this week included a 9-pound striped bass and approximately 4-pound American shad females. Fish lengths by species were 15-21 inches for American shad and 15-28 inches for striped bass. The Neuse yielded more fish in the Goldsboro area: 69 American shad and 70 striped bass, versus 40 American shad and 12 striped bass in the Raleigh area.
“Our shad catch in Raleigh increased but our striped bass catch declined,” Homan said. “We are still planning on sampling next week, but I expect striped bass spawning to conclude within the next week or two. We are, however, still seeing a few shad and striped bass females that have not completely spawned so I expect to see fish on our sites next week.”
Water temperatures were 67°F in Raleigh and 69° in Goldsboro. The river was muddy at both sites and discharge from Falls Lake for the Raleigh site was around 2,700cfs, which is really high. At the Goldsboro site, discharge was around 2,000 cfs, which was adequate for them to make their float trip.
“Flows from Falls Lake were reduced over the course of this week from about 2700 cfs on Monday to about 300 cfs on Thursday so striped bass have probably moved back downstream,” Homan said. “As the water is warming and it’s getting the later in the year, the striped bass spawn is probably coming to a close.”
Breakdown of fish sampled by sex was 18 female and 36 male American shad in Raleigh, and 8 striped bass males in Raleigh. In the Goldsboro section of the Neuse, Homan and Dycus sampled 17 female and 31 male American shad and nine female and 40 male striped bass. The striped bass were tagged with yellow internal anchor tags and released back into the Neuse.
Homan and Dycus conduct their work on the Neuse as part of weekly spawning stock monitoring. They observed no anglers this week, but did see several nice catfish again, including a 30-pound blue catfish.
Doug Mumford of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) shared creel survey datacollected from different stretches along the Neuse River. The creel surveys are administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries through Coastal Recreational Fishing License funding, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission assists with design and data interpretation in the upper portions of the river.
“In the lower region of the Neuse from Turkey Quarter Creek to New Bern, the shad fishing is over with in the lower zone (New Bern area),” Mumford said. “Some stripers have moved back into the area after spawning. Anglers also reported good catches of red drum on top-water baits during the report period.”
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