The striped bass spawn at the upper Roanoke River is two or three weeks away from hitting its full stride, but anglers already are catching fish.

"We've been having half-day trips where we've caught 20 to 50 stripers," said Richard Andrews of Tar-Pam Guide Service, one of several saltwater guides who spends April and May inland on the Roanoke.

According to Andrews, most anglers are fishing from below the Weldon ramp downstream about eight miles to the town of Halifax.

"The dominant (size) right now is 16- to 18-inch fish, but we're catching plenty of 19- to 22-inch fish," he said. "We're also catching a few slot fish in the 22- to 27-inch range."

Andrews (252-945-9715) said the spring striper run has started slower than usual because of cool water temperatures.

 

"It's hovering around 58 to 60 degrees, but it needs to be 66 to 68 for prime spawning temperatures," he said. "I think it's going to be a really good May. Decent fishing is going on near Halifax, so more fish are coming (upstream)."

 

Normally, when striped bass are spawning, they swim up the river in waves, but that hasn't happened yet.

 

"Right now, fish are scattered, and age classes are mixed," Andrews said. "We've caught stripers from nine to more than 20 inches long, but most of the stripers are fat. The males are full of milt, and the eggs in the females are immature."

 

Andrews said it's too early to have much success fishing artificial lures. He's been drifting or anchoring and fishing live shad minnows on a Carolina rig, drifting with a 3/8-ounce egg sinker and using a ¾- to 1 ½-ounce sinker when anchoring.

 

Andrews said he expects the striper spawn to hit its peak the second week of May.

 

The "keeper" season runs through April 30, with fishermen allowed to creel two fish per day, with an 18-inch minimum size, a 22- to 27-inch slot limit, and only one fish longer than 27 inches daily. Fishermen are also restricted to single, barbless hooks upstream from the US 258 bridge to Weldon.