Despite the wicked winter storm that knocked most of the state to its knees earlier this week, spring fishing on the Roanoke River is almost upon us. And with it, the start of the annual Roanoke River Fishing Report at Weldon.

This year, as in past years, several folks have graciously agreed to provide weekly updates from a variety of points on and along the river.

Kevin Dockendorf and Jeremy McCargo, fisheries biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, will be sampling the river for hickory shad and striped bass in the Weldon vicinity of the Roanoke River every Monday over the next couple of months. They will provide information such as average water temperatures, numbers, sizes and sex of the fish collected, and what other anglers are catching.

Bobby Colston, owner of Colston's Tackle Box on Highway 48 south of Gaston, will provide a snapshot of what anglers are catching at the Wildlife Commission’s boat ramp at Weldon while Ricky Mobley, of the Roanoke Sportsman, will provide insights into fishing opportunities downstream in Williamston.

While it’s still a little too early to see any fish in big numbers, the hickory shad run is right around the corner. A few of these early spring aerial acrobats have been hitting here and there although Dockendorf expects bigger catches as water temperatures rise, which they’ll do this weekend when air temperatures are forecasted to be in the mid-70s on Saturday and Sunday.

According to Colston, an angler fishing for shad at the Weldon boat ramp caught 14 early in the morning last Friday, while a boating angler caught 60 fish down river.

“There’s a school of them here, but the weather’s been bad lately so nobody’s been out but with the pretty days coming up, I’m sure they’ll be a lot of fish caught,” Colston said.

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 Hwy. 258 bridge.

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

Peak hickory shad fishing near Weldon varies from year to year but is usually from mid-March to early April when water temperatures are between 52 F and 58 F. If their timing is right, bank-bound anglers frequently can catch fish along the shorelines adjacent to the Commission’s boating access areas at Weldon and Williamston on the Roanoke.

A few striped bass were caught down near Hwy. 45 bridge near Plymouth on Sunday, which just happened to be opening day of striped bass season. Some people were catching them by jigging; others were using cut bait.


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