"Smaller stripers are at Weldon and up around Roanoke Rapids at the (N.C.) 48 bridge right now," said Bobby Colston, owner of Colston's Tackle Box at Gaston (252-537-6485).
Striped bass and American and hickory shad migrate each spring in the Roanoke River during March and April.
Shad fishing hit its peak about a week ago, while the peak of the striper spawn usually occurs about two weeks following the end of the shad run.
"There are lots of stripers in the river right now," Colston said, "but not a lot are keeper sizes. People aren't having any trouble getting their two per day, but it takes a while to sort through fish. Most of them are running 16 to 22 inches (in length)."
The daily creel limit for the Roanoke River Management Area is two striped bass per person. The minimum length limit is 18 inches, but no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches may be kept. Only one striped bass longer than 27 inches can be kept. Striper anglers also must use a single barbless hook or lure with a single barbless hook when fishing in the upper river until June 30. The upper Roanoke River is defined as the main river channel and all tributaries, upstream from the U.S. 258 bridge near Scotland Neck to the Roanoke Rapids Lake dam.
"I've heard of a couple of stripers in the 26-inch range," Colston said.
Best baits include white or chartreuse bucktails, white flukes and live minnows, he said.
"The shad run is slowing down some," Colston said. "There's not as many as there were a few days ago."
Shad darts, small spoons and white or chartreuse jigs are top lures of hickory shad.
The veteran tackle store owner said he expected the big female stripers to begin arriving next week.
"They could come earlier though," Colston said. "You never know. It depends on the water temperature getting a little higher than 60 degrees."