Danny Joe Humphrey of Carolina Fish and Fur in Kinston said fishermen should search for aquatic grasses that attract baitfish and check out the bridge abutments crossing the river and other local streams.
"The reason stripers are called 'rockfish' is because they love to hang around rocks, and that's what you've got at the bridge crossings and rivers," he said, explaining that stripers also like "grass" because it holds oxygenated water, which contains the baitfish they eat.
"Stripers always seem to hang around the railroad bridge (in Washington) and the old and new US 17 bridge pilings. They'll also be at Blounts Creek bridge," said Humphrey, a former BASS Federation national champion.
Several fishing techniques will catch stripers.
"One of the best is to cast a lipless crankbait, such as a Rat-L-Trap, then yo-yo it off the bottom back to the boat," said Humphrey (800-527-0918).
Anglers also can jig white bucktails or Hopkins spoons, picking them up about five feet off the bottom then letting them fall, imitating a wounded baitfish.
"If the fish are cruising and looking for baitfish schools, usually menhaden, you can catch stripers using topwater lures," he said, including Zara Spook Juniors, Pop-Rs and other surface-walking lures.
"Rogue or Pointer jerkbaits or any of suspending jerkbaits that get down 4- to 5-feet deep also will catch stripers that are schooled up," Humphrey said. "When they're schooled like that and eatin' baitfish, look for sea gulls hovering or diving.
"If you also see birds just sitting on the water, it's a good idea to ease over there and cast a lure. Sea gulls usually sit and float at one spot because something's usually going on beneath them. They don't just sit at one spot for no reason."
Stripers that are schooling and attacking baitfish also will hit soft plastics including finesse worms and 3- to 3 ½-inch paddletails in white and natural baitfish colors.