The peak of the spawning season on the Roanoke River has passed and while there are still stripers to be caught this week, it’s now or never for anglers looking to catch a striped bass this spring.

Jeremy McCargo and Kevin Dockendorf, biologists with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, collected 651 striped bass during their weekly sampling on Monday. They saw fewer fish than previous weeks, and according to McCargo, “the fish were concentrated in a relatively small area from the Weldon boat ramp down to Big Rock.” McCargo also added that the peak of the striped bass spawn appears to be over, and he expects fewer stripers will remain in the river as water temperatures continue to increase.

According to Bobby Colston, of Colston’s Tackle Box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston, anglers were still catching fish – in fact, over the weekend fly-fishermen were doing very well with one angler catching 50 fish right at the mouth of the little river. Colston said anglers were continuing to buy live minnows, flukes and bucktails this week so apparently the fish are still biting.

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.

Studies show that striped bass caught on small, barbless circle hooks are usually hooked in the jaw, which means they have a much greater chance of survival after being released than fish hooked in the throat or gut.

For more information on Releasing Stripers Safely, including a downloadable pocket-size card, click here.

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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