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Roanoke River Fishing Report

Mar 15

Written by:
3/15/2012 7:57 AM  RssIcon

It’s been a long winter, but at last, the striped bass season on the Roanoke River is open. And boy, what a season it should be! Hickory shad fishing on the Roanoke River is already in high gear with spawning of shad already being observed at Weldon. And of course, striped bass fishing, which is what makes the river so renowned, will be heating up soon.

As in years’ past, N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission staff will provide weekly fishing reports based on sampling results from the Roanoke River at Weldon and creel surveys conducted throughout the river. The fishing report will be posted here on the Commission’s new Conserve & Protect blog every Thursday morning starting today through around mid-May. Be sure to check out our updated “Striped Bass Fishing Guide for the Roanoke River” page, where you will find loads of information about boating access areas along the river, bait and tackle recommendations, catch-and-release guidelines, types of fish hooks to use, and much more. Our Frequently Asked Questions page has been updated as well and provides useful information for Roanoke River-bound anglers who want to make the most of their striper-fishing experience.

Today’s report begins with Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, who was on the river at Weldon on Monday. He reported that boat and bank anglers were catching their limits of hickory shad. In fact, hickory shad are in the upper river in big numbers right now so anglers who want to tangle with one of these aerial acrobats should plan to head to Weldon this weekend.

On the striped bass front, McCargo says there have been reports — from Williamston down to Plymouth — of scattered catches; however, with water temperatures quickly on the rise, McCargo expects to see stripers moving into the river sooner rather than later.

Water flows at Weldon are still quite low. McCargo urges anglers to be cautious when launching boats and navigating the river — and always wear their PFDs when on the water.

SAFETY NOTE: High flows following periods of low flow dislodge limbs, logs and in some cases, trees from up river locations.  Boaters should take extreme caution when traveling on the water and be on the lookout for these floating hazards!  Similarly, extreme low flows can expose rock outcroppings and make many areas too shallow to access. 

American Shad Regulation Information

The daily limit for shad is 10 fish per angler. Within this 10-fish daily limit, only one can be American (white) shad for the inland waters of the Roanoke River and its tributaries. These are waters above the US Highway 258 Bridge near Scotland Neck.

For a downloadable, color pamphlet identifying the species of shad and herring found in North Carolina waters, click here.

Striped Bass Season and Regulation Information

The entire Roanoke River Management Area is open to striped bass harvest from March 1 through April 30. 

The Roanoke River Management Area includes the Roanoke River and tributaries from Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers.     

The daily creel limit within the Roanoke River Management Area is two striped bass per person. The minimum length limit is 18 inches, and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches may be possessed at any time. Only one striped bass larger than 27 inches can be included in the daily creel limit.

From April 1 – June 30 in inland waters of the Roanoke River upstream of the U.S. Hwy. 258 Bridge, only a single barbless hook or lure with a single barbless hook (or hook with the barb bent down) may be used. 

The Commission also encourages striped bass anglers to use small, non-offset circle hooks, preferably ones with the least amount of distance between the hook point and shank. Studies show that striped bass caught on small, barbless circle hooks are usually hooked in the jaw, which means they have a much greater chance of survival after being released than fish hooked in the throat or gut.

Click here for a downloadable pocket card on how to release striped bass safely.

12 comment(s) so far...

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

I'd like some information from the REGULARS who annually fish the Roanoke, Cape fear, Neuse, and Tar Rivers as to where is the best place to catch the American ( White ) Shad. I've caught thousands of Hickory Shad over the years, but the American ( White ) Shad have been so far, very elusive to me. I have a 14' Big John made by Lowe with a 25 hp tiller steer motor on the stern. Where do I go to catch the Big American ( White ) Shad ? Is there one great place? Or re there several good places? As far as I'm concerned the shad run is as good a fishing opportunity for ultra and light tackle anglers as we have inland in North Carolina.All info appreciated. Tight Lines and good luck to all!! Be safe.

By Richard Hinton on   3/15/2012 9:46 PM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

last wk we were catching american shad on every cast with fly rod right below the falls at Weldon. The water level has risen a foot since then but they ought to still be there.

In past, Lock 1 on the Cape Fear has been good for white shad in early April as well.

By R Vilgalys on   3/16/2012 11:00 AM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

I don't have that answer for you but have been told by some local guys from RR, that there are more white shad there this year than in past years! I agree, for light tackle fishing, it doesn't get much better! Be careful out there as the water levels are still low and can certianly be dangerous on a boat.

By Benji White on   3/16/2012 11:20 AM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

I don't have that answer for you but have been told by some local guys from RR, that there are more white shad there this year than in past years! I agree, for light tackle fishing, it doesn't get much better! Be careful out there as the water levels are still low and can certianly be dangerous on a boat.

By Benji White on   3/16/2012 11:21 AM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

Pamlico Stripers- We have moved our boat to Seagate in the ICW toward Beaufort and want to fish the Pamlico for stripers. Can anyone give us info as to where and any rigs and bait. We fish the Ronoake several times and have a blast with that. Thanks, John

By John on   3/19/2012 6:17 AM

striper run up the roanoke!!!!

Just wondering if the numbers of rock are good at plymouth yet i know shad are up in weldon but the report from ncwildlife guys are doing report in weldon dont know why they are not shocking in plymouth,williamston area to see numbers of fish are moving up yet making their run i thought report would be we shocked fish in plymouth area seen small numbers so i dont think they are in full swing yet to make their run up the river then next week maybe like the report would be guys shocked today huge numbers with big females they are on their way up river the run has started but they are in weldon so i dont know how they get accurate report because it will be 1-2 week of april till good numbers are up that way i have heard they are stacked up at mouth of river and with theses abnormal temps they will run soonner but who know having family come in want to hit the trip at the right time were going mar29-30 just wish some info from u guys how the fishing is the numbers just dont want to hit the trip on the wrong date just wish dnr would shock in plymouth any info appreacated thanks.....

By Dean on   3/21/2012 10:26 PM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

Can anyone tell me if the stripers are in the Weldon area yet? I live about 100 miles away from there and don't want to make the trip unless the fish are there and active. Thanks for any information.

By Vic eltora on   4/1/2012 11:49 AM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

I live in Florida and also plan to make the trip soon for the Weldon Stripers. Any info would be appreciated.

By Ron on   4/2/2013 4:06 PM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

What is the best month for fishing for stripper bass.Ilive in union county indian trail n.c.

By robert johnson on   11/7/2013 1:26 PM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

hello and Happy Easter to all...just cooked some shad roe and so good..can anyone give a current..4/5/15 update on American Shad (white shad) in our eastern rivers in n.c.
have they done their thing here..or still present.?
keep eye on water and have fun!

By Catahoula on   4/5/2015 6:05 PM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

Ron and Robert, for weekly information about spring fishing in our coastal rivers, Roanoke, Cape Fear, Neuse, and Tar, please read our Coastal Rivers Fisheries Reports, which are posted every Thursday or Friday in the spring on our home page,, as well as our "fishing home page,"

By NCWRC blogger on   4/6/2015 7:00 AM

Re: Roanoke River Fishing Report

Catahoula, as of last Thursday, shad were found in good numbers in the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers. We will be posting updated fisheries reports later this week. To find these fisheries reports, visit our website,, and click on the scrolling icon at the bottom of the home page, entitled, Coastal Rivers Fisheries Reports. You can also access the reports on our "fishing home page,"

By NCWRC blogger on   4/6/2015 7:03 AM

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