Anglers at fishing at Weldon boat ramp. 

The report from the Roanoke River at Weldon this week is good news for striped bass anglers. The fish are showing up in decent numbers, and according to the Commission’s creel survey, quite a few anglers have been catching their limit over the last few days.

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said he and fellow biologist, Kevin Dockendorf, collected around 300 striped bass during their weekly sampling on Monday. The majority of fish ranged in size from 16 to 22 inches, with a few larger ones running about 36 inches mixed in.

“The stripers have finally arrived on the spawning grounds, and their abundance should continue to increase over the next few weeks as the temperatures warm,” said McCargo.

Temperatures over the next few days are expected to hit in the upper-70s to lower-80s, which should continue warming the water from the current 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Striped bass begin to show up in larger numbers when water temperatures reach 62 degrees, and peak abundance usually occurs when water temperatures are between 64 and 70 degrees.

Although the peak of spawning may be a few weeks away, some anglers are doing relatively well in just a few hours of fishing. Bobby Colston of Colston’s Tackle Box on Highway 48 south of Gaston, talked with an angler on Wednesday morning who fished near Weldon about 300 yards below the big rock and caught 12 to 15 fish, two of which were keepers. He added that anglers fishing near the Gaston boating access area are also having success catching stripers, with the locations right behind the Hwy. 48 bridge and the “paper mill” bridge being the best spots. Many anglers were drifting downstream, pulling live minnows, buck tails and flukes.

Downriver near Williamston, Ricky Mobley said anglers were catching good numbers of fish, and he has also talked to a couple of anglers who have caught large fish over 15 pounds. Most anglers in the Williamston area use cut bait, but Rickey added that artificial lures such as Bomber crank baits and regular hairy worms were also working well.

Striped bass anglers are reminded that they need to use a single barbless hook or lure with a single barbless hook when fishing in the upper river 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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