It’s almost Spring again, which means that fishing on the Roanoke River is swinging into high gear. Early spring spawning runs of hickory shad, followed by striped bass, attract anglers from all over the state to the Roanoke River each year.

N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission staff will provide weekly fishing reports based on sampling results from the Roanoke River at Weldon and Williamston. The reports will be posted every Thursday morning.  Commission sampling programs include electrofishing surveys on the Roanoke River spawning grounds, as well as angler interviews at boat ramps along the river.  Local anglers have also agreed to share their time and fishing experiences again this year. 

We’ll start with today’s report on hickory shad and striped bass and continue into May when the last striper stragglers depart Weldon and make their way downstream back to the Albemarle Sound and Atlantic Ocean.

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the Commission, was on the river at Weldon on Monday and collected several hickory shad during routine electrofishing surveys.   Bobby Colston, owner of Colston’s Tackle Box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston, said he’s heard reports of anglers catching hickory shad below the falls at Weldon and down by the piers on the right hand side of the bank.

Colston said anglers were “doing good” using silver spoons, size 3, 1/8-ounce jig head with pink and white tails; and chartreuse and red spoon with chartreuse head and tail. “They’re getting thicker and thicker, and will hit most anything now,” Colston said.

Downriver, Pete Kornegay, a former fisheries supervisor with the Commission and a creel clerk, reported a few striped bass scattered between Plymouth and Williamston over the weekend. He interviewed anglers at Jamesville and measured five or six stripers over a period of three hours. Kornegay also said that limits were uncommon but most anglers were able to catch one or two stripers.

McCargo said a few striped bass were collected from the river near Weldon on Monday, but nothing “hot and heavy,” at least not yet.  He also mentioned that boaters should use extreme caution as flows in the river are presently very low, exposing rocks, logs and sand bars. 

Download and print a pocket-sized card on “Releasing Stripers Safely.” (PDF)

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.

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