Upper and lower jaws even on American shad (above).  Lower jaw protrudes beyond upper jaw on hickory shad (below).

Roanoke River anglers are still catching plenty of hickory shad, despite the fluctuating water levels and the relatively cool temperatures over the last few days.

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said the hickory shad fishing has really picked up at Weldon.  While working on the river at Weldon on Monday, he noticed bank and boat anglers catching quite a few hickory shad.  Additionally, he and fellow fisheries biologist, Ben Ricks, collected around 100 hickory shad during their weekly electrofishing survey. 

According to Bobby Colston, owner of Colston’s Tackle Box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston, most hickory shad were being caught right around the boat ramp at Weldon and downriver to the Big Rock, although some anglers were having luck catching them upriver in Chockoyotte Creek.

He said the fish were hitting #3 spoons, either silver or gold, and anglers continued to do well with 1/8-ounce pink head with pink and white tails; and chartreuse spoon with chartreuse head and tail.

McCargo also noted a few American shad are making their way upriver.  American shad, also known as white shad, are much less abundant than hickory shad in the Roanoke River. Anglers should be mindful that only one American shad can be included in their daily limit of ten shad.  To differentiate between the two species, anglers can look at the shape of the mouth. On American shad, the upper and lower jaws come together when the mouth is closed, while the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw on hickory shad.

As for the striped bass, Commission creel clerks report that the fish are still in the lower river, around Plymouth and scattered up through Jamesville and Williamston. They measured a few fish over the weekend but no big numbers, yet. Colston, too, said he heard reports of fishermen catching one every now and then on shad spoons, but again, the catches were small and nothing consistent.

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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