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

With water levels up in the Roanoke River this week, shad fishing slowed down somewhat, although anglers were still catching fish despite the water levels. 

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said the hickory shad fishing has been steady in the upper river around Weldon. He and fellow biologist, Ben Ricks, sampled the river on Monday, collecting around 100 hickory shad during their weekly electrofishing survey.

Bobby Colston, owner of Colston’s Tackle box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston, said that with the water up, some anglers have moved upstream to the Hwy. 48 bridge and are doing well. One fisherman caught “right many” shad standing under the 48 bridge earlier this week, catching both white shad (also known as American shad) and hickory shad. He was using gold and silver spoons, although Colston said that it looked like the shad were hitting the jigs pretty strong around Weldon. “Fish are kinda crazy, though, so they might hit ‘em both, who knows?” said Colston, referring to both jigs and spoons.

He did suggest that with the water levels up, anglers might have better luck fishing Chockoyotte Creek.

Because anglers are catching both American shad (also known as white shad) and hickory shad, it’s important that they know the differences between the two species because they can keep only one American shad as part of their daily creel limit of 10 shad.

McCargo says 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.

On the striper front – not much has changed, according to McCargo, who says most of the stripers are still in the lower river and haven’t made their way to Weldon yet. “As the temperatures continue to warm, however, they’ll be there shortly,” McCargo said.

Creel clerks, Pete Kornegay and Frank McBride, reported that they’ve seen quite a bit of fishing effort at Plymouth, Jamesville and Williamston but not a lot of fish.  Some boats bring in fish and some don’t.

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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