Striped bass fishing is beginning to hit its stride in the upper reaches of the Roanoke River, according to guide Richard Andrews of Bath.
“During a five-hour, half-day trip, we’re catching from 20 to 25 fish on a slow day,” said Andrews, who owns Tar-Pam Guide Service. “During better days we’re catching 50 to 100 fish.”
“I’ve been fishing from above the ramp at Weldon all the way to Halifax,” said Andrews, whose clients have mostly been catching male fish in recent days. “The bigger females haven’t arrived yet. The river is crammed with tons of smaller male fish. The sizes are running from 17 to 23 inches,” he said, “but a few 25- to 30-inch fish are being caught.”
Fishermen who head to the river this weekend will be able to keep stripers since the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission extended the keeper season until May 3. It was scheduled to end April 30, but because the annual recreational quota had not been reached, the season was extended for three days. Fishermen can keep two fish per day between 18 and 22 inches. They can keep one fish daily longer than 27 inches.
Andrews’ favorite way to tackle rockfish is to find a school of actively feeding school and use a ½-ounce jighead with a white Z-Man Streak, a soft-plastic lure that resembles a Fluke, cast upstream and across current at a 45-degree angle then bounce the jig across the bottom.
“When you find a school with a depth finder, you can almost guarantee a bite on every cast,” said Andrews (252-945-9715). “That doesn’t mean you’ll catch a striper, but they really slam those lures. And in the current, they really give you a fight.”
Andrews’ tackle includes a 7-foot medium-action spinning rod with a Penn Battle Spin reel spooled with 8-pound braid and 30 inches of fluorocarbon leader.
“Some people use live shad minnows and cut baits,” he said. “That’s anchored-up fishing, using Carolina rigs. But a lot of boats are drifting with live shad minnows.”
Because of upstream rains, water flow in the river was fast at 13,000 cubic feet per second on April 30. That flow covers the largest rocks at Weldon and makes safe boating dicey. The river’s height was 6.8 feet.