Hickory shad fishing is hot on the Roanoke River this week. If you’re up for tangling with a mess of shad, now is the time to hit the river.

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, reported that he and fellow biologist, Kevin Dockendorf, saw quite a few hickory shad during their weekly sampling run this week. They collected about 200 for the day, which was quite a few more than last week. They also saw more female fish, which means the fish are definitely in spawning mode and are biting well.

Anglers at the Weldon boat ramp were catching shad right off the bank. The more successful ones were using shad darts and brightly colored crappie jigs. Boating anglers were catching good numbers down river around the “big rock.”

Bobby Colston, owner of Colston's Tackle Box on Highway 48 south of Gaston, said that the shad fishing continued to be good around the 48 bridge in Roanoke Rapids, with silver and gold spoons and pink and white jigs working the best. 

With temperatures soaring into the mid-80s by this weekend encouraging even more spawning activity, McCargo expects the fishing to get even better before it finally tapers off. However, the departure of hickory shad heralds in the arrival of the striped bass. In fact, stripers are biting, if only in small numbers.

McCargo said that clerks working the creel downriver in Williamston and Jamesville reported a few catches of striped bass. Ricky Mobley of the Roanoke Sportsman in Williamston said water levels have fluctuated over the last week so the water's muddy, slowing down the striper bite to a few here and there. There were a few stripers reported in the Weldon area, but not many. The water temperatures are a little on the cool side for good striper action.

Speaking of striped bass, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding folks to use a single barbless hook or lure with a single barbless hook when fishing in the upper river from today (April 1) until June 30. The upper Roanoke River is defined as the main river channel and all tributaries, upstream from the U.S. Hwy. 258 bridge near Scotland Neck to the Roanoke Rapids Lake dam.

While anglers can make their existing hooks barbless by crimping down the barb with pliers, the Wildlife Resources Commission, in partnership with Eagle Claw, is handing out barbless circle hooks to anglers fishing on the upper Roanoke River this spring. Informational cards with a single barbless hook attached are available from Wildlife Enforcement officers, fisheries biologists and creel clerks working in the vicinity of the river from now until the end of June.

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 look-out for these floating hazards!  Similarly, extreme low flows can expose rock outcroppings and make many areas too shallow to access. 

For additional safety measures, the Commission urges boaters to file a float plan before getting on the river. Filling out a float plan and giving it to a reliable person before you leave the ramp can be a life-saving decision.

Check out the North Carolina Boating Checklist to be sure you’re complying with on-the-water rules and safety recommendations.

American Shad Regulation Information

Within the inland waters of the Roanoke River and its tributaries, only one American (white) shad can be included in the daily limit of 10 shad per angler. Inland waters on the mainstem of the Roanoke River are  upstream of 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.

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