Skill Level: Advanced
INTRODUCTION Each year on the first Saturday in May members of TFF get together to fish the Roanoke for Striped Bass. This year please mark your calendars for Saturday May 3rd. Due to the insurance related issues around trips with boats, this is NOT a TFF sponsored trip (therefore people will need to provide their own lunch).
To fish on the Roanoke for stripers you'll either need a boat or need to ride with someone who does. Boat owners will be in charge of filling their own boats, so if you have a boat and room available please let people know. If you want go but need access to watercraft, also please let people know. Meetup is a great forum for both… In years past we have had more interest than boats and organized the day into a morning fishing session (9am to 1pm) and afternoon fishing session (1pm on) with different individuals in order to get the maximum number of people on the water. This also helps to give people the opportunity to fish with people they may not have previously. Boat owners are encouraged to take this into account but not required. Exchange cell phone numbers ahead of time – things rarely work to plan on the Roanoke.
This trip is not suggested for novice anglers!!! It is not a very easy trip to learn the basics on - it can be especially hard trip to catch fish and can be discouraging to even the most experienced anglers (aside from Troy who always seems to be catching fish).
WHAT TO EXPECT This is a rain or shine fishing event, and depending on who you fish with it could be dawn to dusk (or later…). Plan accordingly. This is primarily a trip for intermediate to advanced anglers. There’s no test prior to coming out, but to do well throughout the day you’ll likely need specialized gear (covered below) and will need to be able to cast heavy rods with fast sinking line and large heavy flies. The casting methods required are very different from casting a typical trout outfit, so if you haven’t done it in a year it may be worth practicing in order to shake the cobwebs out before a #2 clouser minnow is attached to one!
Take the river seriously. There are several submerged rocks that boaters need to look out for. There are also generally a lot of boats on the water, so stay aware of others and be careful. The Roanoke has a strong current and is not the type of river to take out a non-motorized watercraft.
The boat launch is very steep and is three lanes. Never ask someone who has never backed up a trailer before to do so during a lightning storm as every boat on the river is trying to evacuate. If someone asks you to do so, say no to save yourself the embarrassment (at that’s my own personal experience…).
NECESSARY FISHING EQUIPMENT - Fast Sinking Line - 8 to 10 weight rod - Big Clouser Minnows (#2 & #4) in a variety of colors
During the early morning and evening hours you may be able to consistently hook fish on poppers, but throughout the majority of the day the vast majority of the action will be subsurface – and deep. Everyone has their own favorites when it comes to sinking lines, however a good starting point would be a 400 grain sinking line or 30ft of T-14 attached to a running line.
To cast your fast sinking line you’ll need a heavy rod. 8 to 10 weights are a good option. Anything lighter gets tough to cast. People catch stripers on a variety of flies, but the most consistent pattern is probably a standard clouser minnow. I’d guess that most of the clousers I see are at least three inches in length. Carry a variety of colors, as fish seem to really key in on specific combinations at certain times. Good color combos to have on hand include chartreuse & white, orange & white, pink & white, and chartreuse & pink. There are obviously more, but that’s a good starting point.
Leaders used with fast sinking lines are simple – 3ft of 10lb to 14lb test will work fine.
METHODS Probably the biggest reason beginners don’t catch fish on the Roanoke is depth, or lack thereof. Try to get your fly as deep as possible without snagging the bottom (increase the weight associated with your line and/or count down longer before you start your retrieve). There are a number of different retrieves that people employ, but most of them involve quick sharp strips. Experiment until you find what works, but if it’s your first time and you’re not catching anything try fishing deeper and using quicker, faster strips.
LOCATION & COMMON MEETING POINTS We will be fishing the Roanoke River at Weldon. The boat launch is just downstream of where highway 158/301 crosses the river. If you are looking for a rendezvous point we’ve historically met at Cracker Barrel in the morning before hitting the launch and have eaten at Ralph’s Barbecue after the day’s fishing to see how people did. However, some people like to fish early to hit the morning bite and others like fishing well into the night to target the big guys. To find the launch you can type the following address into Google maps: 1090 Rockfish Ln Weldon, NC
ETIQUETTE If you’re riding on someone else’s boat you might want to think about helping out with gas and/or kicking in something to eat. It’s probably more important to some boat owners than others, but I mention it because it’s something I overlooked when someone was nice enough to take me my first time out.
FINDING EQUIPMENT Again, this trip calls for specialized equipment. If you do not have the necessary tackle, but are interested in figuring it out talk to one of the local fly shops - Great Outdoor Provision Company, Orvis, or Bass Pro. Specifically ask about fast sinking lines and/or T-14. If you buy T-14 ask about how to add loops. Do not ask me for advice - as some may tell you, I have lost about 100ft of T-14 in the Roanoke...
Hopefully we will have better luck than last year!