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

Despite the dismal weather over the last few days, good numbers of hickory shad are still being caught around Weldon.

Jeremy McCargo, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, along with fellow biologist, Ben Ricks, sampled the river on Tuesday, collecting around 150 hickory shad during their weekly electrofishig survey.

Bobby Colston, owner of Colston’s Tackle Box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston, said there were still “right many” shad in the river, particularly around the Weldon area, although some anglers continued to catch white (American) shad right around the Hwy. 48 bridge.

He said anglers have been using silver and gold #3 spoons; and jigs with a pink head and white/pink tail and chartreuse head and tail.

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, McCargo said they have seen a few striped bass showing up at Weldon, although not many people are fishing for them yet. One angler, fishing for stripers at the Weldon boat landing, caught six, of which one was keeper-size, using a white fluke and ½-ounce jig, according to Colston.

Creel clerks, Pete Kornegay and Frank McBride, measured eight keeper striped bass at Jamesville on Saturday, and Ricky Mobley of the Roanoke Sportsman in Williamston said that while the poor weather had affected the fishing over the weekend, it has improved somewhat over the last few days, particularly around the newly built Astoria Landing Boating Access Area in Jamesville.

“The fishing’s just picked up in the last couple of days – just as the river started dropping, the bite started picking up,” Mobley said. One angler, yesterday, caught stripers on bait while others were doing well using blue/chrome and orange Bomber or Rapala crank baits.

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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