The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will extend the striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area until midnight on Sunday, May 3. The season had been set to expire by rule on April 30. 

The Roanoke River Management Area includes the Roanoke River and tributaries from Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to the mouth of the river at Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers.

The Commission is extending the season to allow anglers additional opportunity to harvest the remaining pounds of the harvest quota for striped bass allocated to the Roanoke River. The quota of striped bass established for 2015 is 68,750 pounds. Through April 30, the end of the regular harvest season, the number of pounds projected to be harvested is about 56,000 pounds. The Commission calculates the harvest estimate by interviewing anglers as they complete fishing trips on the river.

“We have seen steady catches of quality fish throughout the river already this season,” said Chad Thomas, coastal fisheries supervisor for the Commission. “However, high flows as a result of heavy rainfall in the upper river basin, coupled with cooler water temperatures, contributed to lower harvest rates this past weekend. With the high flows that began the middle of last week, fish were redistributed throughout the river, which impacted catchability last Saturday and Sunday. In addition, the water temperatures dropped several degrees and are presently near 60 degrees Fahrenheit.”

With warmer weather forecasted for the weekend and flows holding steady near 12,000 cubic feet per second through the rest of this week, fisheries biologists expect better catch rates this weekend. Depending on additional rainfall this week, flows are expected to continue to move closer to the preferred spawning flow of 8,000 cubic feet per second by early next week. 

“Whether your preference is to harvest fish, or to just catch them for release, if you haven’t had a chance to get to the Roanoke River this year, this weekend should be a good time to go,” Thomas said.

During the harvest season, the minimum length limit is 18 inches, and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches may be possessed at any time. The daily creel limit is two fish, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches. To reduce handling stress on fish that are released, anglers must use a single barbless hook or a lure with a single barbless hook from April 1 through June 30 when fishing in the upper Roanoke River above the highway 258 bridge near Scotland Neck.