From Weldon down to the mouth of the river, reports from the Roanoke River this week say the same thing: anglers are catching fish – some more than others, but the majority of fishermen are catching their limits and then some.

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, sampled the river at Weldon on Monday. He and other biologists collected about 450 striped bass. Most of the fish he collected were between 16 and 24 inches, but around 20 of them tipped the scales at 25 pounds and up. One large female striper even weighed in at a whopping 52 pounds.

McCargo said he heard of lots of fishermen catching stripers around the “big rock,” as did Bobby Colston, of Colston’s Tackle Box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston. Colston said that anglers were also catching fish around the “powerline,” which is about 2 miles below the “big rock.” Many were drifting with minnows. One angler caught a nice-sized 24-pounder on a white bucktail, which is a pretty good catch for artificial bait.

Downriver at Williamston, Ricky Mobley said the fishing has been “pretty good” from 6 or 7 miles above Hamilton all the way down to the mouth of the river.

This is the last weekend that anglers are able to harvest fish. The season ends next Friday, April 30.

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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