Although we are in the thick of the winter Redfish season, I'm always prepping for what's coming next. We are in a time of transition... cold nights, clear water and schools of Redfish, while at the same time we have Cherry Trees blooming and pollen is starting to fill the air. Water temps will be on the rise soon, and with that, several new species will arrive that we can chase on fly and spin.
One of my favorite early spring-time targets are Shad. Both Hickory and American shad start migrating up river this month and will be available in the upper reaches of our rivers in March and early April. When you hit them right, you can catch fish after fish on fly or ultra light tackle, and watch them jump and run with the current as they try to get away. It's not that uncommon to catch up to a hundred shad in a single day at the height of the season. They may not tail like Redfish, or blitz like Albies, but these fish are so much fun! Aggressively attacking bright colored flies and jigs, and leaping like baby Tarpon. I am trying to build a yearly short season for my guide service each spring where I can take anglers to target these fun fish. I'll be on the Roanoke River at Weldon for a few days this spring. Don't miss out!
I have March 29, 31, and April 2 remaining for Hickory Shad trips on the Roanoke. We can fish fly or light tackle and I will provide all the gear needed. Give me a call or shoot me a message if you have any questions.
When I get back from my Shad trips, I'll be focussing on our nearshore fishery for most of April. The Bluefish will already be here, and there should also be False Albacore and Atlantic Bonito on our wrecks and hardbottoms. Depending on the best bite, we will leave very early morning from either Beaufort Inlet or Bogue Inlet and fish nearshore structure for these fish. Its worth leaving in the dark for a shot at the hard fighting and delicious Bonito, whether you want to catch and release them or take some home for sushi or ceviche.
The goal is to be in the ocean before the sun rises and on blitzing fish at first light. By the time the sun rises this popular fishery will bring lots of other boats to the nearshore structure which can cause the fish to stop feeding on top. When this happens we switch tactics and throw sinking fly lines or jig them on spinning rods. Some days the bite slows after a few hours and some times it goes all day. Once the bite does slow we have several other species we can go chase.
The False Albacore are usually also around and are more willing to blitz through the day. These are the same fish that show up in the fall that everyone raves about. The spring Albies just have a shorter window that is a little less predicatable, so they don't get as much publicity. That being said, I have seen days in April that blow the doors off the fall bite.
Depending on the weather we can also go looking for bigger quarry like Sharks and big Bull Reds...both available during April on the Crystal Coast.
I have dates available for the Spring Nearshore Fishery from April 3 - 22. I'm happy to discuss my thoughts on the different opportunities and the best dates for them.
I'll be leaving the Bonito behind in late April, to head up to Weldon for one of my favorite fisheries, the spring Striper run. NCWRC has announced that the Roanoke River harvest season will be April 14-17 and April 22-23 this year. Unless I have any anglers requesting to harvest Stripers, I will start my first charter up there on April 24, to avoid the keeper season crowd. I will be on the Roanoke for about 18 days running morning, evening and full day charters. 50-100 fish days are not uncommon on the Roanoke. Add in to that the possibility of hitting a good morning or evening topwater bite, and it doesn't get much more fun. Most of the fish we catch are going to be 16-24" long, but we regulary catch fish up to 30", and there are some real monsters hiding in the river.
I'll be loaded up with 8wts rigged with floating lines and poppers, along with rods with sinking lines and Clousers, ready for whatever comes up. I'll also have plenty of spinning rods and an array of soft plastics and topwater plugs ready to go. Although Striped Bass are the target, we also hook into everything from Largemouth to Carp to Suckerfish, along with a few other surprises. And if you want to try something different, or in combo with a Striper trip, ask me about opportunities to sight cast Common Carp on fly on some nearby flats.
I am now booking trips for the Roanoke Striper Fishery. I'll be offering AM or PM long half days (5hrs), and long split full days (5hrs AM/mid day break/5hrs PM). Available dates will be from April 24- May 10. I have a feeling these will go quickly, so don't wait too long to come experience this awesome fishery.
Here's some more info on the Roanoke Shad and Striper Trips with pricing, etc.