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

Not much to report from the Roanoke River this week, mainly due to the windy and cold weather, which kept many fisherman off the water. With warmer temperatures on the way starting today, now would be a good time to fish if you’re hoping to catch shad this season.

According to Ben Ricks, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, there are still a good number of hickory shad around the Weldon area, although he expects those numbers to decline as the days go by.
Bobby Colston owner of Colston’s Tackle Box on Hwy. 48 south of Gaston said he has seen little fishing activity over the last few days due to the weather but reports he’s heard indicate that folks are still catching shad at the Weldon boat landing and up river, passed the railroad trestle, the first gut on the left. With water levels higher than normal, it’s easy enough to get a boat up that way.

Because anglers are still 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.

Jeremy McCargo, fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 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.

As for stripers, all reports indicate that striped bass fishing is starting to pick up from Plymouth to Weldon. Creel clerks, Pete Kornegay and Frank McBride, said that at Jamesville on Monday, anglers harvested nine fish and released 18; at Weldon, anglers released 22 and kept 2 and in Plymouth, at the Hwy. 45 ramp, 30 stripers were caught and released, and three were harvested.

Colston said that folks were catching stripers in the little river, which is right above the big rock.

Ricky Mobley of the Roanoke Sportsman in Williamston said that when the weather was good, the fishing was good, but as soon as the weather took a turn for the worse, so did the fishing.

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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