Fisheries Biologists Justin Homan and Justin Dycus sampled the Neuse River on April 22 and 23, capturing a total of 148 American shad and 44 striped bass. They electrofished two sections of the Neuse — in Raleigh, from the old US 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 Millboat ramp.
Largest fish sampled this week include an 11-pound striped bass and a 4-pound American shad. Fish lengths by species were 15-22 inches for American shad and 18-30 inches for striped bass. The Neuse yielded more fish in the Goldsboro area: 82 American shad and 43 striped bass, versus 66 American shad and one striped bass in the Raleigh area.
“Our shad catch in Raleigh was even better than it was last week,” Homan said. “Most of the fish are concentrated around the rock habitat upstream of the canoe launch about halfway between the launch and the old 64 bridge.”
Homan noted that discharge from Falls Reservoir into the Neuse River was reduced last week to about 170 cubic feet per second (cfs), which may have resulted in some shad dropping down from below the boat ramp to the section of the Neuse where he and Dycus normally sample.
“Striped bass catch in Goldsboro was really good and the fish should hang in that area as flows have not increased all that much,” Homan said. “Under higher flows,the striped bass will migrate further upriver toward Raleigh.”
Breakdown of fish sampled by sex was 27 female and 39 male American shad in Raleigh, and one female striped bass in Raleigh. In the Goldsboro section of the Neuse, Homan and Dycus sampled 28 female and 54 male American shad and 13 female and 30 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 did not observe any anglers fishing the Neuse this week.
Weather conditions when they sampled earlier this week were cloudy with strong windsfrom the northeast. Water temperatures were 57° F in Raleigh and 63° F in Goldsboro. Homan said the Neuse River was clear in Raleigh, but muddy in Goldsboro.
“Discharge from Falls Lake for the Raleigh site was around 400 cfs, which provided good access to the sample site,” Homan said. “Discharge at Goldsboro was around 1,300 cfs, which was adequate to make our float trip.”
Doug Mumford of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) shared creel survey data collected 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 upper region of the Neuse from Raleigh to Smithfield, the creel agent reported interviewing anglers with fair catches of striped bass and American(white) shad, along with catfish. Most of the striped bass were released, according to Mumford.
“A few of the stripers were large enough to keep (> 27 inches),” Mumford said.“This week is the first time this season that striped bass have been observed or reported in the recreational catch in the Neuse between Raleigh and Smithfield.”
In the central region of the Neuse from Maple Cyprus to Seven Springs in the Goldsboro area, Mumford said shad fishing was very slow. Most of the Americanshad and striped bass have moved up river to spawn.
In the lower region of the Neuse from Turkey Quarter Creek to New Bern, no anglers reported catching shad or striped bass to creel clerks. The water temperature in the Neuse at New Bern is around 72° F. Overall, fishing effort and catch remain down.
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