North Carolina striped bass harvest restrictions in place as population decreases in Roanoke River

North Carolina

HERTFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Anglers in North Carolina, listen up: Striped bass harvest season begins for the upper zone of the Roanoke River this weekend but there are some changes this year. 

A map provided by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission helps break down the different harvest zones.

The dates are below:

  • April 10-16 (downstream of the U.S. Highway 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the mouth at Albemarle Sound).
  • April 24–30 in the upper river zone (upstream of the Highway U.S. 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the base of Roanoke Rapids Dam)

Why are the harvest periods shortened? Wildlife officials tell WAVY it all has to do with conservation. 

What we’ve seen is the striped bass population is on a decline,” said Coastal Fisheries Supervisor Chad Thomas with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Thomas said because of the decline, the 2021 season is shorter and separated into two segments. 

In a press release, NC wildlife officials say the striped bass harvest quota in the Roanoke was reduced significantly — 68,750 pounds down to 12,800 pounds.

“A lot of that has to do with several poor years of reproduction,” Thomas said. “So, obviously they are up here to spawn and if they don’t make a lot of babies then those babies aren’t going to return.” 

That’s the reason for the shorter season. 

“That does create kind of a derby atmosphere where there’s a lot more people fishing over a shorter period of time,” he said. “That’s one of the drawbacks you have when you’re trying to protect and preserve a population.” 

The shortened season may not be welcome news for some anglers, but he adds they have a big role in conservation. 

“They’re a big part of protecting these populations,” he said. “If we go over this year, then there are consequences for the following years, so we’re watching this very closely. If we go over substantially, it may mean reductions in the number of days or potentially the number of fish per day we can keep in 2022.” 

During the two separate harvest periods, the minimum length limit is 18 inches, and officials said no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches (the protective slot) may be possessed at any time. Officials added the daily creel limit is two fish, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches.

Despite the shortened harvest season, anglers can continue to catch and release striped bass throughout the spring.

To find more information, such as boat ramp locations, click here.

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