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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 - May 15, 2021 

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (F) Boat Ramp
5/03/21 Weldon 67 Weldon
5/6/21 Near Hwy 48 Bridge 68 Gaston BAA


Sampling Information for the Roanoke River:

Striped Bass were more abundant in our sample this week. The fish were concentrated from the rapids upstream of the railroad bridge downstream to Troublefield Gut. The majority of the fish captured continued to be between 20-inches and 24-inches, and we also collected small Striped Bass between 12 and 14 inches. We collected a few large females including one 50-pounder as well. Some females still had eggs, but many male and female Striped Bass we collected appeared to have spawned out, suggesting the annual spawning run is nearing its conclusion. American Shad abundance increased this week, but catches were still relatively low. Numerous boat anglers were observed fishing for Striped Bass at Weldon on Tuesday, and most were fishing between the Weldon boat ramp and Troublefield Gut. We saw many anglers having success. Anglers reported observing Striped Bass spawning activity throughout this week. Six angling parties were observed at Gaston on Thursday. Water temperature remained in the upper 60s this week despite the cooler air temperatures. Flows were steady around 7,300 cfs throughout the week and are expected to decrease over the weekend and next week. Please use Dominion Energy’s website https://www.dominionenergy.com/lakes-and-recreation/lake-gaston-and-roanoke-rapids-lake-nc/roanoke-rapids-dam-projected-flow-release for updated information on planned releases from Roanoke Rapids Dam.

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 346 29  
Min. Size (in) 11 15  
Max. Size (in) 48 21  
Max. Weight (lb) 50 3.7  
Sex Ratio (M:F) 195M 99F 67U  15M; 14F  


RR-051421-SM

Larger Picture

District 1 Fisheries Biologist, Christopher Smith, holds a 50 lb. female Striped Bass collected in the Roanoke River near the powerlines on Tuesday..

 

Creel Survey Information for the Roanoke River:

Upper Region (Roanoke Rapids Dam to Scotland Neck)

May 8–14: Over the weekend and throughout this week, anglers reported catching and releasing plenty of Striped Bass in the Weldon area. However, fishing success was variable given the changing weather conditions throughout the week. Angling effort has slowed some this week, perhaps related to the Mother’s Day holiday on Sunday and the gasoline shortage.

Lower Region (Scotland Neck to Plymouth)

No report this week. 

Striped Bass Regulations

Shad Regulations

 

Tar River - May 7, 2021 (Last Report of the 2021 Season)

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (F) Boat Ramp
5/3/21 Fishing Creek to Tarboro Town Ramp 70 Tarboro Town Ramp

 

Sampling Information for the Tar River:

Sampling on the Tar River was focused in the Fishing Creek/Tarboro area this week. We were unable to sample near Battle Park due to low water levels. The river was unusually clear, at low levels, and decreasing this week. One boat was observed fishing in the vicinity of Fishing Creek.  A few bank anglers were also observed fishing between Fishing Creek and Riverfront Park in Tarboro.  Moderate numbers of Striped Bass and a few American Shad were collected in the area sampled. All fish sampled were returned to the river in good condition. It appears the spawning season for both species is nearing completion in the Tar River, but some Striped Bass and American Shad will likely remain in the river for a few more weeks. Access and low flows will be the biggest challenge for anglers as we move into warmer, drier months. This will be our last report of Tar River sampling for 2021. Many thanks to Commission biologists Kirk Rundle and David Belkoski for providing weekly updates.

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 23 8 0
Min. Size (in) 16 15  
Max. Size (in) 28 20  
Max. Weight (lb) 10 3  
Sex Ratio (M:F) 2:1 0.3:1  


Larger Picture

NCWRC biologist, Kirk Rundle, with a 3-pound female American Shad collected just downstream of Fishing Creek.

 

DMF Creel Survey Information for the Tar/Pamlico River:

April 26 – May 2: This will be the last creel survey report of 2021. We thank NCDMF staff for providing weekly updates, and we greatly appreciate the many anglers who provided information about their trips.

Upper Region (Rocky Mount to Greenville)

With water level dropping, anglers fishing from boats had a difficult time navigating the Tar River in the Edgecombe/Nash area last week. Bell’s Bridge Boating Access was effectively blocked by a sandbar. Anglers who took on the shallow water challenge were rewarded with good catches of sunfish and catfish. Anglers targeting striped bass where most successful in the Rocky Mount area.

Lower Region (Greenville to Washington) 

Last week in the lower Tar-Pamlico River, anglers targeted striped bass, red drum, largemouth bass, and spotted seatrout. Anglers reported “steady” conditions for catching fish.

 

Striped Bass Regulations

Shad Regulations

 

Neuse River - May 7, 2021  (Last Fishing Report of the 2021 Season)

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (F) Boat Ramp
5/03/21 Goldsboro 70 Cox's Ferry

 

NR-050721-SM



NCWRC Fisheries Biologist Ben Ricks with a Striped Bass collected from the Neuse River.

 

Sampling Information for the Neuse River:

Striped bass abundance was greatly reduced this week. American Shad were still present in the Goldsboro area, but many were spawned out. It appears spawning activity for both species is nearly complete.  This will be our last report for the year. Many thanks to Commission biologists, Ben Ricks and T.D. VanMiddlesworth, for providing weekly updates of their sampling activities. 

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 7 69 0
Min. Size (in) 20 13  
Max. Size (in) 29 22  
Max. Weight (lb) 8 4  
Sex Ratio (M:F) 1:1 1:2  

 

DMF Creel Survey Information for the Neuse River:

April 26 – May 2: This will be the last report for the year. Many thanks to NCDMF staff for providing weekly updates, and we appreciate the anglers who participated in the creel survey this year.

Upper Region (Raleigh to Goldsboro)

The weather was fair all week and anglers reported catches of sunfish and bowfin.  A few black crappie were also caught near Raleigh.

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

Warm and sunny weather brought many anglers to the river last week. Anglers were catching plenty of shellcrackers, bluegill, and black crappie with live bait (worms/crickets). Over the weekend, anglers fishing overnight were rewarded with good catches of blue catfish and channel catfish.

Lower Region (Spring Garden to New Bern)

Lower Neuse anglers did well this past week with catches of largemouth bass and sunfish. No reports of striped bass or shad, as anglers seem to be switching gears to target other species.

Striped Bass Regulations

Shad Regulations

 

Cape Fear River - April 30, 2021

Sample Date Area Sampled Water Temp (oF) Boat Ramp
4/26/21 Lock and Dam 2 64 Lock and Dam 2
4/26/21 Lock and Dam 3 64 William O. Huske BAA
4/28/21 Lock and Dam 1 67 Lock and Dam 1

 


Larger Picture

Low water at Lock & Dam 3 signifies it is the farthest upstream most American Shad will be able to migrate.

 

Sampling Information for the Cape Fear River:

American Shad were very abundant at Lock & Dam 2 and Lock & Dam 3, and a few shad were also present at Lock & Dam 1. Shad anglers were reporting success at all three locks and dams, and we observed anglers catching shad during our sampling. Few striped bass were observed. Streamflow was well below normal with 2200 cfs at Lock & Dam 1.

Species Striped Bass American Shad Hickory Shad
Number Collected 19  159  0
Min. Size (in)  11 13  
Max. Size (in) 24 21     
Max. Weight (lb) 5.9 3.8     
Sex Ratio (M:F) 7:1    1.9:1  

 

DMF Creel Survey Information for the Cape Fear River:

April 19–25: Last week the water level remained low and the temperatures were also cooler than usual. At Lock and Dam 3, American Shad, Largemouth Bass, and White Perch were caught right below the dam on either side. You could see the shad by the 100s swimming against the wall. Lock and Dam 2 produced a good number of American Shad from both the bank and from the boat. Anglers were still able to catch their limit and more right below the rocks. Anglers at Elwell's ferry were able to catch Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Black Crappie, Blue Catfish, and some White Perch fishing upriver.

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