Lakes and Rivers in Roanoke Rapids, NC

By Betsy Williams on April 28, 2011 at 11:40 am EST

For world-class fishing, it just doesn’t get any better than the waters found in the Roanoke Valley. Whether they swim in the shoals of the Roanoke River or the lakes of Roanoke Rapids, Gaston or Kerr, the fish are large, plentiful and lively, adding up to a fisherman’s dream. Thousands of fish make spawn runs in the river, starting with the hickory shad in March.

“These hickory shad come all the way up to the dam to spawn,” says Bobby Phillips, owner of Carolina Sportsman Guide Services, which provides guided fishing tours. “You can catch 50 to 60 an hour. It doesn’t take a lot of experience, but this acrobatic fish is fun to catch.”

The striped bass, also known as rockfish, follow the hickory shad, and they create quite the fish story. It isn’t unusual for striped bass to run in schools more than six miles long, with several specimen weighing between 20 and 30 pounds, Phillips says.

“If you’ve ever been on a boat on the Roanoke River and caught 250 fish that weigh at least 10 pounds, it will spoil a man,” he says. “Trust me.”

For his time, he goes after the walleye.

“I enjoy catching fish that require a lot of skill level,” Phillips says. “The walleye are plentiful here but very hard to catch. Catfish are also very plentiful, and they’re easy to catch. We have everything – white and yellow perch, bream, striped bass – just about any freshwater fish you can think of.”

“I tease my family and friends and tell them to send my mail to Weldon during rockfish season,” says Rick Goines, author of the “Tight Lines” fishing column. “Honestly, I do spend a lot of time in Weldon during April and May.”

Roanoke Rapids Lake

In addition to Roanoke River, Lake Gaston’s 20,000 acres and 350 miles of shoreline offer pristine waters, with Roanoke Rapids Lake offering an additional 4,600 acres of surface water.

Bobby Colston, owner of Colston’s Tackle Box, has earned his reputation as a fishing and hunting authority in the region. After almost 32 years in business, he knows when the fish are biting and when they aren’t.

“I’m closed on Tuesdays, and I usually go fishing,” he says. “But I also talk to a lot of fishermen. I know the questions to ask, and I find out information my customers will appreciate.”

Colston, a bricklayer by trade until a scaffolding accident three decades ago, now uses his considerable mechanical skills to repair hunting and fishing equipment, offering plenty of fishing advice. He says it’s never an off-season when it comes to enjoying the area’s multitude of recreational offerings.

“I’m busy year-round,” he says. “Hunting season runs from September until the end of February, then the shad run up the river in March, then the rockfish come. By the time they leave, the lake fishing picks up, bow hunters start practicing in August, and then it starts all over again.”

Click on the video below to see Roanoke's rapids.

Find more water activities in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

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