North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Striped Bass Catch and Release Guide

You can aid the survival of released striped bass (rockfish) with careful planning, fishing and handling methods. Hooked stripers can die from injury or from the stress of being hooked, fought and landed. Stress-related mortality increases greatly when water temperatures exceed 70F and is also greater in freshwater than in brackish water. Infection and disease can result in mortality of fish whose protective slime coat is removed during handling. The chances that released fish will survive will be increased greatly by following these guidelines. Ideally, fish are landed quickly, handled little, if at all, and kept in the water while the hook is removed using a dehooker.

Learn and practice catch-and-release fishing techniques and teach them to your children and friends.


  • Know the fishing regulations and be prepared to release fish.
  • If you are planning a catch-and-release fishing trip for stripers, do so in early spring, late fall or winter when water is less than 70F.
  • Use strong enough tackle and land fish quickly to minimize stress.
  • Use barbless hooks or bend down the barbs on regular hooks to release fish quickly.
  • Use artificial lures instead of live bait to reduce deep hooking.
  • Replace treble hooks with large, single barbless hooks to reduce injury and handling.
  • If legal, keep fish that are bleeding heavily as their chances of survival are poor.
  • Keep the amount of handling to a minimum and keep fish in the water if at all possible.
  • Use landing nets only when necessary and these nets should be made of knotless nylon or rubber.
  • Do not allow the fish to thrash around. If you must handle it use wet gloves or a wet rag. Stripers can be calmed down by covering their eyes and/or turning them on their back.
  • A fish that does not swim away can be resuscitated by moving it back and forth to force water through its gills
    • Carefully, but quickly, remove hooks using a dehooker, needlenose pliers or forceps.
    • Whenever possible remove hooks in the throat or gut using a dehooker.
    • Cut the line if you cannot carefully or quickly remove hooks.

    Related Information

    Striped Bass Fishing Information
    General information about striped bass fishing.

    Fishing for Striped Bass on the Roanoke River
    Boating access areas, local accommodations, bait and tackle guidelinnes and more information updated for the 2012 season.

    Striped Bass Fishing Access Areas on Roanoke River, NC
    Click here for an interactive map of Commission-owned Roanoke River boating access areas. The map contains information about the access areas as well as detailed directions and pictures.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Striped Bass
    Fisheries biologists answer some frequently asked questions about striped bass stocks and striped bass fishing in general

    Electrofishing for Striped Bass on the Roanoke River   

    This 3-minute video offers a look at how Commission fisheries biologists collect, weigh, measure and sometimes tag striped bass to collect data on this reowned fishery.

    Striped Bass Regulations  (PDF)

    Shad and Herring Identification Guide (PDF)

    Releasing Striped Bass Safely Information Card (PDF)

    How to Measure a Fish (PDF)