Scotland Neck area is hot spot on Roanoke River for annual shad run

Hickory shad are making their way up the Roanoke River, and the Scotland Neck area has been a hotspot over the past week.

Fish moving upstream to spawn, hitting tiny jigs, spoons and flies

Despite last week’s cool temperatures, the shad run in the Roanoke River is still going strong.

“The Edwards Ferry boat landing (on US 258 near Scotland Neck) is a great place to access the Roanoke and catch a lot of hickory shad,” said veteran angler J.D. Fish. “We are mainly targeting creek mouths, but fallen trees in the river can be productive also. Any place where the fish can get out of the main current for a little rest can be good. Even a creek that seems too small is worth a try.”

Fish likes to run upstream of a creek mouth, drop anchor, and drift back close enough to cast into it.

“I like to position myself so I can throw into the mouth and the eddy around it. “Depending on the water temperature, shad may be in the creek or running in the deeper water of the river,” Fish said.

His go-to bait is a tandem rig with two eighth-ounce jigheads featuring 2-inch curlytail grubs, fished on spinning tackle.

“I’ll sometimes use a small spoon in place of the last jig,” said Fish, who also targets these sporty fish with fly tackle, using streamers and Clouser style flies that he ties himself.

“You’ll need a sinking fly line to get down to the fish, but if they start running higher in the water column, you have to strip fast to keep the fly up,” he said. “Bright pinks and chartreuse are good colors for flies or grubs – anything that gets the fish’s attention, because it’ll be a reaction strike. The shad will not be feeding on the spawning run.

“Most of the fish we catch are Hickory shad in the pound-and-a-half to 2-pound class, with several doubles. White shad are a lot less common, but we do catch them. The Roanoke is one of our best shad rivers, and we’re in the middle stage of the run. You can normally catch twice as many fish here as in other rivers.”

About Dusty Wilson 274 Articles
Dusty Wilson of Raleigh, N.C., is a lifelong outdoorsman. He is the manager of Tarheel Nursery in Angier and can be followed on his blog at

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