Jeremy McCargo, holds up a 52-pound striped bass
collected from  the Roanoke River at Weldon on Monday.

Striped bass anglers fishing the Roanoke River have until Friday at 11:59 p.m. to harvest their limit of two fish. Although tomorrow is the last keeper day, catch-and-release fishing should continue to be terrific, particularly for this weekend, when the temperatures are forecasted to be in the upper-80s, low-90s.

Like last week, most reports from the river say that the fish are pretty much everywhere, from Weldon down to the mouth of the river.

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, along with fellow biologists Kevin Dockendorf, said they collected more than 1,000 fish during Monday’s sampling effort, the highest number to date. The majority of the fish were between 16 and 22 inches, but they also collected larger fish.

McCargo observed the heaviest fishing pressure and largest concentrations of fish around the big rock and right below, although anglers were catching fish from the boat ramp down to Halifax as well.

Many anglers were using live bait, although jigs and flukes were landing fish too. McCargo expects the fishing to be good at least for the next couple of weeks. Water temperatures are right for spawning activity, and although he and Dockendorf didn’t see any spawning activity during their Monday sampling, they did hear reports from anglers of spawning activity on the surface.

Bobby Colston, of Colston’s Tackle Box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston, agreed that there were lots of fish in the river now, particularly from the big rock down to the powerlines. He also said he heard reports of fly-fishermen catching stripers close to the surface.

Down river at Williamston, Ricky Mobley from the Roanoke Sportsman said that fishing was “pretty good” as well with many anglers casting lures or fishing with large minnows.

McCargo reminds anglers to be extra vigilant when putting their boats in and out of the water at the various boat ramps due to the increase in expected boating traffic, particularly at Weldon, which is always a busy boating ramp during the striped bass season.

With catches expected to be high and numerous striped bass of varying sizes in the river, anglers should remember to properly measure any fish they intend to keep within their limit and according to the striped bass regulations. Click here for a printable document that shows the proper way to measure a fish.

A special thank you goes out to Frank McBride and Terry Boyce, who worked tirelessly this season running the creel survey and collecting data during the harvest season.  Also, a big “thank you” to all the anglers who took the time to participate in our creel survey. The information gleaned from these surveys goes a long way to helping the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission better manage the resource for anglers to enjoy for years to come.

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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