Spring Shad and Striper Run
The mighty Roanoke River starts in southwestern Virginia and flows 410 miles, crossing the Piedmont and Coast of North Carolina, before finally emptying into the Albemarle Sound. The river continually changes it's characteristics as it drains from it's headwaters in the Blue Ridge Mountains down to the swamps of NE North Carolina. Long before Europeans settled here, the Native Americans heavily relied on the river as a source for hunting and fishing. In the mid-twentieth century, we added a total of 6 dams along the river to harness it's energy for the growing local communities. And now, anglers flock to the river for it's world class Striped Bass, Shad, Largemouth Bass, and Catfish fishing.
"Although several species can be caught year round on the Roanoke, we tend to target the incredible spring time runs of Shad and Striped Bass between Plymouth and Roanoke Rapids."
Whether you want to catch shad on a 4wt fly rod, watch a "Rockfish" explode on a popper before sunrise, or introduce your child to their first Striped Bass in a kid friendly manner, we have you covered.
Hickory and White Shad make their spawning runs up the coastal rivers of North Carolina Feb-April of each year.
"In our opinion, the Roanoke River near Weldon NC is the best place on the planet to experience the shad run."
The hickory shad usually show up in the Weldon area during the first two weeks of March and hang around until mid-April.
Even a slow day shad fishing on the Roanoke, is usually more action than you will experience in other locations. Over one hundred fish in a day, is a definite possibility when fishing the Roanoke. Shad are great fun on ultra-light spinning rods, or 4-5wt fly rods with a sinking line. They earn their nickname “poor man’s tarpon” from their flashy silver scales and their ability to jump multiple times when hooked.
About half-way through the Shad run, the Stripers start to show up.
"Just like with Hickory Shad, Weldon is also probably the best place in the state to catch Striped Bass, or Rockfish, as they’re locally known."
Being anadramous, Striped Bass make a Spring journey up the Roanoke River towards their spawning grounds near Weldon. Stripers start to show up in April and usually hang around until mid-May. On a really good day, it’s possible to boat close to one hundred fish when the bite is on, although a couple dozen fish is more the norm.
April is the keeper season, and the Weldon area can be very crowded. Our favorite time to fish for them, is the first two weeks of May, when the crowds have gone home but the fish are still there. The majority of stripers are schoolie sized fish from 16-24″, but several large females up to 40lbs are caught each year. The stripers are great fun on a medium action spinning rod, or a 7 or 8wt fly rod with a sinking line. Early mornings and late evenings can produce a great top water bite. We can also fish live bait if you want to experience some insane action.
This year I am opening up March 25-28 and April 6-11 for Hickory Shad fishing out of Weldon NC. I will be booking May 1-15 for Striped Bass at Weldon. These dates will probably book up fast, so give me a shout if you’d like to fish the Roanoke with me this Spring. Thanks! John
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