I just got back from the upper Roanoke River a few days ago and wanted to share some photos and info from the trip. I was up there for a week this year and had a blast fishing mornings and evenings with a bunch of awesome anglers. We had a few trips where we had to work for them, and we had several days that were just pure epic. No matter the number of fish, every single trip was a bunch of fun, and I already miss being up there.
I arrived on the last day of keeper season to scout the river and set up for my first trip the following day. After checking into the hotel, I dropped the skiff in the river and made my way down stream watching the fish finder. On the third cast of my first drift, I hooked up to my first Rockfish of the year, and followed up with a second fish a few casts later. Everything was shaping up for an awesome trip the next morning. We had a water temp of about 66 deg that evening and the fish were schooled up about a mile downstream of the boat ramp.
The next morning I met my first anglers of the week and we were off. We had a major temperature drop over night and the air was chilly that morning and the water temps were down to 63. We worked our way downstream and started marking fish a few miles downriver. The fishing was alright but definitely not on fire. We worked our way upstream to the rapids and decided that 8000CFS was just enough to safely shoot the rapids and fish upstream. Upstream around the railroad tressles we found willing fish and started putting some Stripers in the boat.
The next day we were back with more pieces to the puzzle which allowed us to get on fish quicker and start bending some fly rods. The water temps were a little higher that morning which helped too (they were about 70 deg by the end of the week). The next few days we spent an equal amount of time fishing above and below the rapids.
A few days later they dropped the river flow from 8000CFS down to 6500CFS, which didn't slow the bite, but kept us fishing downstream of the rapids. We also started having some killer evening spawns. One night we had a half mile of spawning Stripers, boiling on the surface fertilizing eggs, in every direction you looked.
Although the main quarry on the Roanoke near Weldon, NC is Striped Bass, there are several other species to be caught. While targeting Stripers we also caught Common Carp, Bullhead Catfish, Channel Catfish and Largemouth Bass. We also witnessed an angler go to battle with a seven foot 300lb Atlantic Sturgeon...something that no one had ever seen on the upper Roanoke.
Not only can you catch a variety of fish, you can also watch a variety of wildlife on the river. We saw everything from Bald Eagles and Ospreys to Muskrats and Otters to Warblers and Tanagers. This river is wild, and one of the prettiest places to fish in North Carolina in May.
Although I love my Redfish, I'm definitely missing the mighty Roanoke. I'm already making plans for next spring and planning to book mornings and evenings on the Roanoke for 2 weeks straight next year. If you've never experienced this fishery or if it's been a while since you have, then you should really consider spending a day or two up there next year...I highly doubt you'll regret it.