Local News

Drought May Hurt Spring Fishing On Roanoke River

Posted April 11, 2006 7:31 a.m. EDT

— Wet a line on the Roanoke River at the Weldon boat landing and there is no telling what you'll catch. One of the most sought-after game fish - the striped bass -- is near spawning time, and fishermen are getting antsy. But it's not just anticipation.

"I am waiting," said one fisherman. "About another week or week and a half, they will be here."

Weldon is recognized as the "Rockfish Capital." Around there, striped bass are called rockfish or stripers. In the spring, they swim up the Roanoke River to spawn.

"The fish really pack in here at Weldon and the fishing is really good," said fisherman Bill Fowler. "I mean, 80 to 100 fish a day."

This year though, there is a big catch. It's all about water flow, the drought and dropping lake levels. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates the water release from Kerr Lake into the Roanoke River, may not raise the river level during the critical spawning season.

"The striper fishing won't be as good if they don't release water," said Fowler. "The fish don't come up if there is no current. They won't come all the way up to Weldon. Plus, it will hurt the spawning fish."

The Corps told WRAL some additional water may be released if there is more rain soon. But that is no consolation to the eager fishermen, and no help to the fish that are about to spawn. The hottest time for catching striped bass is April 15-30.