Richard Andrews of Tar-Pam Guide Service said striper fishing in the lower Roanoke River has been good for a solid month, with slow days producing catches of 20 to 50 fish and good days reaching triple-digit numbers of releases, very promising action with the opening of keeper season slightly less than three weeks away.

“It really has been good to excellent fishing,” Andrews said. “The fish are already up in the river, and it’s simply a matter of finding an aggressive group to move a day from merely being good to one that lives in your memory for a while. With this many fish around already, I’m expecting lots of quickly filled limits when the season opens on March 1.”

Andrews said 16- to 18-inch fish were the dominant part of the catch, but good numbers of 18- to 22-inch fish have been showing.

“According to the biologists, this is a good mixture and a sign of a healthy population,” Andrews said. “They have swollen bellies and are obviously eating well, which is another good sign. Some already have roe and milt, so the makings are there for this to be a really good spawning year and continue the growth and rebuilding of these fish.”

Andrews (252-945-9715) said stripers are holding in deeper water along the channel edges and breaks in the bottom that roll off into deeper water. He prefers Mission Fishin’ jigheads with soft-plastic Z-Man trailers; he goes with a 3/8-ounce size to help get the bait down into the deeper areas.

"When the temperature is dropping or is already cold, I have good luck using the paddletail shapes,” Andrews said. “I work them pretty slowly and deliberately. There is something about the vibration of their tail when it is barely moving that gets fish excited and convinces them to bite. When the cold weather breaks and the temperature is rising or has warmed, I switch to the jerkbait shapes and fish them at a slow medium pace, but mainly twitching them and then taking up the slack.”