Capt. Richard Andrews, of Tar-Pam Guide Service in Washington said striper fishing in the lower Roanoke River hasn’t slowed from its hectic pace of before the keeper season opened, and now fishermen can take home some fish for dinner if they want.
“The fishing was really good for the last few weeks of February, and it may even have improved in the past few days,” Andrews said. “It’s really almost unbelievable. The river herring are moving up the river, and the stripers are following them and feeding. At the risk of oversimplifying it, having a great catch is simply a matter of finding a school that is feeding.”
Andrews (252-945-9715) said since the keeper season opened on March 1, his clients have had triple-digit catches each day, and he believes a 200-fish day isn’t out of the question. He said the last week of February and the first few days of March have produced the best fishing since he started guiding.
Andrews said several weeks ago, when the fishing was first firing off, there were a lot of short fish in the catch, but now it isn’t a problem to fill limits, and then practice catch-and-release for the rest of the trip. He said there are also good numbers of stripers out in the Albemarle Sound, but the fishing isn’t quite as good as up in the rivers. He also cautioned fishermen to pay attention to where they are fishing because the regulations are different.
The limit in the Roanoke, Cashie, Eastmost and Middle rivers and the rest of the Roanoke River Striped Bass Management Area is two fish per day, with a minimum size of 18 inches, a 22- to 27-inch slot limit with only one fish longer than 27 inches allowed. From the mouths of these rivers eastward into Albemarle Sound and eastward to the Outer Banks is the Albemarle Sound Striped Bass Management Area and the limit in these waters is two fish per person per day with a minimum size of 18 inches. Maps and regulations for striped bass can be found on the NC Division of Marine Fisheries website at www.ncdmf.net.
“The water is high right now, and the flood plain is flooded and river herring are moving through the trees and up onto the flood plain to spawn,” Andrews said. “The stripers are following them along the edges, but (they) don’t go up into the trees except around creek mouths and ditches that are flowing into the river. One of the things to look for is darker water flowing out into the river from the creeks and ditches. The herring concentrate in these places and the stripers follow them.”
Andrews said he had been fishing MinnowZ, StreakZ and DieZel MinnowZ soft plastics on 3/8- and ½-ounce Mission Fishin’ jigheads along channel and bank edges into deeper water. He said white, chartreuse, pink and combinations of them have been the most productive colors.