Fishing in the Rockfish Capital of the World

By John McBryde on April 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm EST

The fishing is world-class in the Roanoke Valley. Just ask any of the numerous fishing guides here who stay particularly busy during the spring.

“In my experience‚ striper fishing in the Roanoke Valley in April and May is as good as anywhere in the world‚” says Bob Caudle‚ who leads fishing and hunting outings through his company‚ Bucks Unlimited Outdoor Adventures. “It’s phenomenal.”

This area is considered the Rockfish Capital of the World‚ as each spring the striped bass – commonly known as rockfish or striper – make their spawning run from saltwater to the freshwater Roanoke River. The striped bass season can begin as early as mid to late March and usually runs through about mid-May.

Though many anglers come to the area with boat in tow and prefer fishing on their own‚ the Roanoke Valley has a long list of guides who know when and where to go.

“We furnish everything‚ and we know where the fish are‚” says Charles Robinson‚ who has run Charlie’s Striper Guide Service since retiring as a public utility contractor in 2004. “There’s a lot of preparation involved. It saves them a lot of time and effort‚ and they can just go and enjoy themselves. All they have to do is come with a fishing license.”

Robinson‚ 66‚ has been fishing this area since he was a child. So has 40-year-old John O’Briant‚ who has been guiding since 1998. He says he is the region’s only guide who uses a jet boat and can‚ therefore‚ fish in areas on the river where other guides who use traditional fishing boats can’t reach.

O’Briant offers half-day outings that last around five hours and full-day trips of about nine hours. He strongly recommends that people hire a guide.

“It’s kind of wild‚” O’Briant says of the Roanoke River. “You’ve got to know what you’re doing or you can get hurt. There are rocks everywhere. I’ve been fishing it all my life.”

Caudle‚ who has been guiding since he retired as a district attorney in 2002‚ says hunting is also a popular activity in the Roanoke Valley. He leads outings for turkey and bear hunting‚ but he stays busiest during the deer-hunting seasons (bow and arrow‚ muzzle-loading and gun) that run from September until January.

“We’ve always had good numbers of deer‚” Caudle says‚ “and our area has always been popular for deer hunting because of our long seasons and our liberal bag limits. And now we’re beginning to see an increase in trophy quality.”

Check out more on the outdoors in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

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