Coastal Rivers Fisheries Reports

In eastern North Carolina, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission conducts springtime electrofishing sampling for striped bass, American shad and hickory shad. This sampling is conducted in the four major coastal rivers — the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse and Cape Fear. We will share results of Commission fish-sampling work as well as Commission and Division of Marine Fisheries' creel surveys now through mid-May. Check back weekly.

Scroll down the page for all four rivers. 


Roanoke River - April 16, 2021 

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (F) Boat Ramp
4/12/21 Weldon 60.6 Weldon
4/15/21 Near Hwy 48 Bridge 63.0 Gaston BAA


Sampling Information for the Roanoke River:

Water temperatures continue to rise as air temperatures increase and flows decrease. Flows were near 11,000 cfs during both sampling days. Water clarity improved with lower flows this week as well. The abundance of Striped Bass near Weldon was low this week but should continue to increase over the next few weeks as schools move upriver. A few large males were collected on April 15, near the Hwy 48 bridge. Hickory Shad were still seen near Weldon but were absent from the surveys near the Hwy 48 bridge.  American Shad abundance remained stable this week but is expected to increase in abundance as water temperature increases and fish move upriver. About five boat anglers and six bank anglers were observed fishing on April 12 near Weldon, while one boat angler and eight bank anglers were observed fishing at Gaston on April 15.

 

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 43 26  
Min. Size (in) 11.8 16  
Max. Size (in) 32 22  
Max. Weight (lb) 22 3.3  
Sex Ratio (M:F) 35 M; 8 F 12 M; 14 F  


Larger Picture

NCWRC Coastal Research Coordinator, Kevin Dockendorf, with a 32-inch, 22 lb female Striped Bass that was collected and tagged with a high reward tag (red) on Monday, April 12 near Weldon.


Creel Survey Information for the Roanoke River:

April 3 – April 9

Upper Region (Roanoke Rapids Dam to Scotland Neck)

Anglers at Weldon and Scotland Neck reported excellent catches of Hickory Shad over the weekend and throughout this week despite the high flows resulting from recent rainfall. There were not many anglers trying for Striped Bass this week, and only two stripers were reported being caught and released from the Scotland Neck area. Anglers are reminded the Striped Bass harvest season will be open April 24–30 in the upper river zone (upstream of the U.S. 258 Highway bridge at Scotland Neck to the base of Roanoke Rapids Dam). The minimum length limit is 18 inches, and no Striped Bass between 22 and 27 inches (the protective slot) may be possessed at any time. The daily creel limit is two fish, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches. Additionally, from April 1–June 30 in Inland Waters of Roanoke River upstream of U.S. Highway 258 bridge, only a single barbless hook or lure with a single barbless hook (or hook with barb bent down) may be used.

Lower Region (Scotland Neck to Plymouth)

Fishing effort was moderate in the lower river this week. A handful of Striped Bass were caught and released in Hamilton over the weekend, and decent catches of Hickory Shad were reported from Jamesville on Wednesday. Anglers are reminded that the harvest season for Striped Bass will be open April 10–16 in the lower river zone (downstream of the U.S. 258 Highway bridge at Scotland Neck to the mouth at Albemarle Sound. The minimum length limit is 18 inches, and no Striped Bass between 22 and 27 inches (the protective slot) may be possessed at any time. The daily creel limit is two fish, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches.

April 10–16

Upper Region (Roanoke Rapids Dam to Scotland Neck)

Fishing effort was relatively low around Weldon this week. Anglers reported decent catches of Hickory Shad over the weekend, but the bite slowed throughout the week. It appears the Hickory Shad run at Weldon is coming to an end. Only a couple anglers reported catching Striped Bass.

Lower Region (Scotland Neck to Plymouth)

The Striped Bass harvest season was open on the lower river this week, and fishing effort was high. Striped Bass appeared to be widely distributed throughout the lower river, as anglers caught and harvested Striped Bass from Scotland Neck to Plymouth. Anglers reported excellent catches of Striped Bass around Williamston and decent catches in Hamilton over the weekend. Anglers were also successful near Jamesville during the week. Most of the harvested fish were large keepers, around 20-21 inches, and anglers also reported releasing some fish in the protective slot of 22-27 inches. The harvest season will close at 11:59 pm on Friday, April 16.

Striped Bass Regulations

Shad Regulations

 

Tar River - April 16, 2021

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (F) Boat Ramp
4/13/21 Swift Creek to  Fishing Creek 66.2 Bell's Bridge 
4/14/21 Battle Park to Rte 64 66.2 Battle Park

 

Sampling Information for the Tar River:

American Shad were sampled at very high numbers in the vicinity of Battle Park with relatively few fish sampled between Swift Creek and Fishing Creek.  No Hickory Shad were sampled this week. Moderate numbers of Striped Bass were observed in both reaches of the river sampled.  Striped Bass should be increasing in numbers over the next several weeks. All fish sampled were returned to the river in good condition. The river was relatively clear at moderate levels and decreasing slightly. One boat was observed fishing in the vicinity of Swift Creek, while four boats were observed around Battle Park.  Several bank anglers were also observed fishing at Battle Park.

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 7 120 0
Min. Size (in) 18 15  
Max. Size (in) 26 22  
Max. Weight (lb) 7 4  
Sex Ratio (M:F) 3 0.8  


Larger Picture

David Belkoski, NCWRC fisheries biologist, with an approximately 5-pound male Striped Bass collected near Fishing Creek.

 

DMF Creel Survey Information for the Tar/Pamlico River:

Upper Region (Rocky Mount to Greenville)

April 5-11: The hickory shad bite was slow around Falkland and Old Sparta. American shad were still being caught upriver near Rocky Mount. Anglers started shifting their efforts towards other species including striped bass and started to catch some quality fish in Edgecombe and Nash counties.

Lower Region (Greenville to Washington) 

April 5­–11: Warmer temperatures made the weather more favorable for fishing this past week. Anglers mainly targeted shad and largemouth bass in adjacent creeks, while several anglers reported catches of striped bass in the main river.

Striped Bass Regulations

Shad Regulations

 

Neuse River - April 15, 2021  

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (F) Boat Ramp
4/12/21 Goldsboro 63 Cox's Ferry BAA
4/13/21 Smithfield 62 Smithfield BAA
4/14/21 Raleigh 59 Anderson Pt

 


Larger Picture

NCWRC Fisheries Biologist TD VanMiddlesworth with a Striped Bass from the Neuse River.

 

Sampling Information for the Neuse River:

Water levels are on the way down, and with warm weather this week, water temperatures should increase. American Shad are starting to show up in good abundances in Goldsboro and are beginning to be seen in Raleigh as well. Striped Bass—mostly smaller males—have started their migration to the spawning grounds, but spawning runs for both species are still in the beginning stagesWe collected good numbers of Striped Bass between Goldsboro and Clayton, and spawning has begun. Now is the time if you want to fish the spawning run.  American Shad were abundant, and their numbers continue to rise as well. The river level was moderate during sampling with increased flows coming from Falls Dam because of recent rains. The current level of discharge from the dam is expected to be maintained through the weekend but will likely drop next week unless we get more rainfall.

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 59 47 0
Min. Size (in) 16 16  
Max. Size (in) 26 22  
Max. Weight (lb) 8 4  
Sex Ratio (M:F) 10:1 1:1  

 

DMF Creel Survey Information for the Neuse River:

Upper Region (Raleigh to Goldsboro)

April 5–11: The Neuse River was down to 7-8 ft. last week near Goldsboro (the lowest all year) making the water slower and easier to fish. There were no reports of American or hickory shad, and a few striped bass were caught near Goldsboro. Anglers primarily caught catfish, black crappie, assorted sunfish, and bowfin. 

Middle Region (Core Creek to Seven Springs, Goldsboro Area)

April 5–11: Last week there were no reports of American or hickory shad in the middle Neuse area. Instead, anglers targeted largemouth bass, catfish, and assorted sunfish. The weather was very nice last week with temperatures in the mid 70's to 80's, however overall angling activity was low.

Lower Region (Spring Garden to New Bern)

April 5–11: Weather conditions were favorable last week, with mostly sunny skies and light breezes. Upper Broad Creek anglers reported catches of white perch, bluegill, and largemouth bass. Largemouth bass and sunfish were also reported a little further up the Neuse at Cowpen Landing. There were no reports of American Shad, Hickory Shad, or Striped Bass.

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Cape Fear River - April 16, 2021

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (oF) Boat Ramp
4/12/21 Lock and Dam 2 67 Lock and Dam 2
4/13/21 Lock and Dam 1 67 Lock and Dam 1
4/13/21 Lock and Dam 3 66 William O. Huske BAA

 


Larger Picture

WRC fisheries biologist April Boggs measuring a striped bass collected at Lock & Dam 1.

 

Sampling Information for the Cape Fear River:

Due to low streamflow preventing upstream passage, American Shad were very abundant at Lock & Dam 3. Striped Bass were abundant at Lock & Dam 1 and will likely be at peak abundance over the next week or two. Three boat anglers were catching shad at Lock & Dam 1, and one kayak angler was catching shad at Lock & Dam 3. Streamflow was steady this week, with 6200 cfs at Lock & Dam 1 during sampling.

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 46  57  1
Min. Size (in)  8  15   13 
Max. Size (in) 27 20    13  
Max. Weight (lb) 6.5 3.2    0.5
Sex Ratio (M:F) 6:1    2.5:1 1:0

 

DMF Creel Survey Information for the Cape Fear River:

April 5–11: The water level and weather cooperated with anglers on the Cape Fear River last week. Anglers at Lock and Dam 1 were able to catch American shad, white perch, and striped bass right below the rocks. Downriver from the dam, anglers were able to catch blue catfish using shad as cut bait. Lock and Dam 2 also produced American shad, white perch, and striped bass right below the rocks. Blue catfish were also caught downriver using shad as cut bait. Anglers fishing out of Elwell's Ferry caught a good number of blue catfish, assorted sunfish, black crappie, and largemouth bass. 

Striped Bass Regulations

Shad Regulations

 

 

Striped Bass Regulations

UPDATE FOR 2021: 

Roanoke River:  

Striped bass harvest season is open from April 10–16 in the lower river zone (downstream of the U.S. Highway 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the mouth at Albemarle Sound), and April 24–30 in the upper river zone (upstream of the Highway U.S. 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the base of Roanoke Rapids Dam)

The daily creel limit for Striped Bass is two fish per angler, and the minimum size limit is 18 inches. No Striped Bass between 22 inches and 27 inches in total length may be possessed at any time, and only one fish greater than 27 inches may be included in the daily creel limit of two fish. 

From April 1–June 30 in Inland Waters of Roanoke River upstream of U.S. Highway 258 bridge, only a single barbless hook or lure with a single barbless hook (or hook with barb bent down) may be used.

Tar River: Striped Bass season is closed in all water of the Tar Pamlico and its tributaries downstream of Rocky Mount Mill dam. 

Neuse River: Striped bass season is closed in all waters and tributaries downstream of Falls Lake Dam.

Cape Fear River: Striped bass season is closed in all waters and tributaries downstream of Buckhorn Dam.

Shad Regulations

Roanoke River: The daily creel limit per angler is 10 Hickory Shad and American Shad in combination, only one of which can be an American (white) Shad, in all waters and tributaries downstream of Roanoke Rapids dam. From April 1–June 30 in Inland Waters of Roanoke River upstream of U.S. Highway 258 bridge, only a single barbless hook or lure with a single barbless hook (or hook with barb bent down) may be used.

Tar River: The daily creel limit is 10 Hickory Shad and American Shad (white), in combination, per angler, in the Tar Pamlico and its tributaries downstream of Rocky Mount Mill dam. 

Neuse River: The daily creel limit per angler is 10 Hickory Shad and American Shad in combination, only one of which can be an American (white) Shad, in all waters and tributaries downstream of Falls Lake Dam

Cape Fear River: The daily creel limit is per angler is 10 Hickory Shad and American Shad in combination, only five of which may be an American (white) shad on the Cape Fear River and its tributaries.

Fisheries Reports from 2013-2020

NOTE: There were no reports during the 2020 season due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Roanoke River Fisheries Reports

Tar River Fisheries Reports

Neuse River Fisheries Reports

Cape Fear River Fisheries Reports