STATE: Harvest Season announced for striped bass on the Roanoke River

Published 1:30 am Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Cameron Ingram has signed a proclamation outlining the 2023 striped bass harvest season in the Roanoke River Management Area. The entire Roanoke River Management Area will be open for harvest of striped bass April 14-17 and April 22-23. The daily creel limit is one striped bass per day. The minimum length limit is 18 inches, and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches may be possessed at any time.

The Roanoke River Management Area includes the Roanoke River and tributaries from the Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to the Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle and Eastmost rivers.

In 2020, a stock assessment of striped bass in the Roanoke River/Albemarle Sound indicated that the stock was overfished, and overfishing was occurring. To conserve and rebuild the striped bass population in the Roanoke River, this year’s harvest quota is 12,804 pounds. The six harvest days outlined in the proclamation were selected using past angler creel data with the goal of anglers having an opportunity to harvest fish throughout the river.

“Since 2006, we’ve seen declines in the abundance of Striped Bass, specifically, dramatic declines in the abundance of fish larger than 30 inches. These larger, older fish can produce over 1 million eggs per spawn. River flow is also important to having a successful spawns and high egg survival rates. NCWRC staff work weekly with staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide the best possible flow for spawning fish on the Roanoke River. Larger fish and river flow during critical spawning periods are keys to rebuilding the Roanoke River-Albemarle Sound Striped Bass population,” said Chris Smith, District 1 fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Commission. “However, appropriate flows alone will not help. The current management actions are intended to increase striped bass survival on the spawning grounds. Over time we anticipate the population will rebuild including larger older females which are very valuable to the population.”

Anglers can continue to catch and release striped bass throughout the spring. To reduce handling stress on fish that are released, the Wildlife Commission recommends anglers use a single barbless hook or a lure with a single barbless hook, which is a requirement when fishing in the upper Roanoke River above the US Highway 258 bridge near Scotland Neck from April 1 through June 30.

Signage will be posted at boating access areas (BAAs) along the Roanoke River to notify anglers of the changes to the open harvest dates. More information about BAAs on the Roanoke River,  can be found using the agency’s online BAA locator.