The cold snap that ripped through North Carolina late Tuesday may have killed some plants and fruit-tree buds, but it fired up striped bass in the Roanoke River. "The push of water is bringing fish to Weldon,” said Rod “Capt. Ponytail” Thomas, a former cameraman for ESPN and The Outdoor Channel who guides out of Weldon during the spring striper run.

Thomas (336-240-5649) was excited because he said the spring of 2014 is a precursor to a perfect storm of fishing in the upper Roanoke.

“According to the biologists, this is the best condition,” he said. “Extremely high water pushing against their noses is perfect and sets us up for a fantastic spring.”

At the beginning of the week, stripers were scattered about midway between Weldon and the mouth of Albemarle Sound, some 120 miles to the east. They were lollygagging between Jamesville and Williamston, with a few showing up at Scotland Neck — until the rush of water smacked ’em in the face. 

Bobby Colston, owner of Colston’s Tackle Box in Gaston, said the gauge at Roanoke Rapids Dam was showing 20,000 (cubic feet per second) flowing from that impoundment.

“That’s flood stage,” Thomas said. “And Buggs Island is (full) and rising, so this water is gonna continue to pour down the river like it is now for quite a while.”

Colston said fishermen are having the best results using live bait; Thomas said the top live bait has been live herring and the best lures Flukes and bucktails.

“We had the first good school of stripers in the river (April 16),” Colston said, “but there are a lot of small fish. The biggest striper I’ve seen this spring was 27½ inches long.”

Thomas said the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission shocked up 97 stripers on Tuesday, and only three were females. “But we’ve had a couple of 100-fish days already. Nobody’s catchin’ ’em with fly rods yet. And the big ones are coming.”