Roanoke Bass

Illustration by Duane Raver
(Enlarge image)

Scientific Name: Ambloplites cavifrons
Classification: Game Fish

Abundance: Found primarily in the Tar and Neuse River drainages of NC.



Roanoke bass (Photo by NCWRC)

Roanoke bass state record (2 lbs., 11 oz., from Nash County Fishing Creek in 4/27/1994

Additional Information

A sunfish rather than a true bass, the Roanoke bass is shaped similar to a rock bass but is dark olive-green to olive brown, fading to grayish sides with a white belly. The Roanoke bass has smaller scale spots than the rock bass and small, lighter whitish or yellowish spots on its upper body. It is scaleless or nearly so on its cheeks.

Roanoke Bass are uncommon in North America. Their native range is restricted to the Roanoke and Chowan River drainages of Virginia and the Tar and Neuse River drainages in North Carolina. Isolated, introduced populations also exist in North Carolina, most notably in the Uwharrie River in the southern Piedmont. The rarity of Roanoke bass throughout their native range has prompted listing of these sunfish as significantly rare by the N.C. Natural Heritage Program. Loss of habitat that accompanies impoundment construction, pollution and siltation is mostly responsible for their decline. Roanoke bass prefer habitats in large creeks, streams and small rivers that have moderate flows and rocky substrate. Young Roanoke bass eat insects and crustaceans, while adults feed on crayfish and small fish.

The following fishing regulations are effective Aug. 1 of each year.

Inland Fishing Regulations
Regulatory authority between the Wildlife Resources Commission and Division of Marine Fisheries. Inland game fish regulations include Manner of Taking, Seasons and Using Trotlines and Set-hooks.

Warmwater Game Fish
Game fish size and creel limits. Also, Bass and Morone (striped bass) Identification Charts.

Fishing Tips:

Anglers should use light spincasting tackle. Popular lures include tiny jigs, doll flies, streamers, small crank baits that imitate minnows, small spoons and spinners. If live bait is used, small to medium minnows work best. Anglers should also try fly-fishing for Roanoke bass.

Places to Fish:

• Eno River

• Little River (Durham County) 

• Tar River (Granville, Franklin and Nash counties) 

• Fishing Creek (Nash and Edgecombe counties) 

• Little Fishing Creek (Halifax County)

None at this time