Striper anglers are having 100 fish days on the Roanoke River

A happy Tar-Pam Guide Service client shows off a Roanoke River striper. (photo courtesy of Tar-Pam Guide Service).

The rockfish are biting, despite high water levels

The Roanoke River has been producing big numbers of stripers for the past couple of weeks, and anglers like Capt. Richard Andrews of Tar-Pam Guide Service are experiencing their share of 50 to 100 fish days.

Andrews said the water has been extremely high lately, and that doesn’t help when trying to find schools of stripers. But he said they’re still finding plenty of fish.

“We’re finding them, but just having to look more than I’d like. We’ve consistently been producing 50 to 100 fish per outing. We had one trip (last week) where the fish seemed to be a little more scattered. So we never really found that one big school which makes our day. We still caught about 30 stripers, which isn’t a bad day of fishing,” he said.

Andrews (252-945-9715) and his clients have been catching most of their fish on Z-Man soft plastic lures like the 3-inch MinnowZ and the 5-inch StreakZ. The StreakZ is his favorite, but he said the MinnowZ is easier to fish, especially for those who don’t fish often.

“Day in and day out, I prefer the StreakZ. But for more inexperienced anglers who are not used to soft plastics, I always start them out with the MinnowZ because the shad tail has so much action just cranking it through the water column. The only action to a soft plastic jerk bait like a StreakZ is what the angler gives them. But overall, I think stripers in river current respond a bit better to the vertical motion of the StreakZ,” he said.

Annual spawning run concentrates these fish

This time of year, the stripers in the Roanoke River are making their annual spawning run. This river is relatively shallow and narrow. This means these fish are tightly packed in to the full length of the river from Albemarle Sound to the town of Weldon just below Roanoke Rapids.

But that doesn’t mean the fishing is as easy as casting a lure anywhere you please. That’s especially true with the fluctuating water levels. And that’s where the experience of a guide like Andrews comes into play.

The water levels in the area he’s been fishing are impacted by what happens hundreds of miles to the north due to recent rainfalls in Virginia. Those levels don’t stop the fishing, but it means you have to know where to fish under certain circumstances. Adjustments are crucial.

“Knowing where to be under different water levels is key. We had epic fishing early last week, catching all the stripers we wanted. Then about mid-week, the water got a little too high for where we were fishing and the fish seemed to scatter out a bit. It dropped our catch to about 30 to 40 fish instead of the normal 50 to 100-plus. We made the adjustment and started fishing a new area, and bam, we were back on good numbers of fish,” he said.

Andrews expects the water level to fall to a much more favorable height this week.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1363 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.