Wildlife Commission Fisheries Biologists Jeremy McCargo and Ben Ricks collected 293 striped bass, one hybrid striped bass and 89 American shad earlier this week during their weekly spawning stock surveys for striped bass and American shad in the Roanoke River.
Joined by fellow Fisheries Biologist Kevin Dockendorf for the striper sampling on May 14, they surveyed the Roanoke in an electrofishing boat from the Weldon boat ramp downstream to Troublefield Gut. On May 16, McCargo and Ricks were joined by Wildlife Technician Bernie Jeffries for shad sampling between the Hwy 48 bridge to the power lines.
McCargo noted that water temperatures, which ranged from 64° to 66° increased into the preferred spawning range for striped bass over the weekend. Anglers reported seeing multiple “rock fights” over the weekend, which indicates the stripers were spawning heavily in response to the warmer water.
Despite the heavy spawning activity, McCargo saw just a handful of boats fishing for striped bass. “They were concentrated between Mush Island and the Big Rock,” McCargo said. “We saw several anglers catching fish throughout the day.”
The 293 stripers that McCargo, Ricks and Dockendorf sampled ranged in length from 10 to 36 inches. The largest tipped the scales at 12 pounds. Male stripers were collected at about a 5:1 ratio over females.
“Our catch rates this week are lower than previous samples,” McCargo said. “We collected a few spent females and the majority of the sample (75 percent) were small males less than 18 inches. All these findings indicate the spawning run is near completion. Anglers wishing to catch a few more stripers at Weldon should do as soon as possible. I think the fish will only be around for a short while longer.”
Along for the ride during the striped bass sampling was Wildlife Commission creel clerk Patrick Railey who took advantage of a slow morning to come out on the boat for an hour. “We were glad to show him the river and thank him, along with fellow creel clerk Chip Peele, for their hard work during this year’s creel survey."
Like the striped bass catch rates, catch rates for American shad on the Roanoke decreased slightly this week but were still relatively high. McCargo, Ricks and Jeffries collected 89 American shad, which ranged between 16 and 22 inches. Sex ratio was approximately 3:2 male to female (55 males and 34 females).
“We saw a mixture of females that were spent, running ripe (eggs flowing), or still fully gravid,” McCargo said. “The American shad spawning run will probably last a few more weeks on the Roanoke but is apparently on the tail end."
McCargo noted that river levels were fairly high ( 13,500 cfs), most of the rocks were covered with water and the current was swift.
Dockendorf’s weekly creel report from the Roanoke comes from information collected by Chip Peele and Patrick Railey, Roanoke River creel clerks. Peele and Railey interview anglers coming off the Roanoke to collect information for the Wildlife Commission on angling effort as well as size, catch and harvest data on striped bass, hickory shad and other fish targeted by anglers over the 61-day striped bass harvest season on the Roanoke River.
“Striped bass spawning activity was observed over Mother’s Day weekend by anglers catching and releasing numerous striped bass on flukes, flies and live bait near the Weldon ramp,” Dockendorf said. “Water temperatures ranged from 64° to 66°and some parties reported catching 70 to 100 striped bass during their outings.”
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