There could be greater opportunities for striped bass fishermen in the Roanoke River in the years ahead.
Stripers in the Roanoke have been a showcase example of successful fisheries management -- thanks in large part to the leadership of Mount Olive native Pete Kornegay. He is a regional fisheries coordinator for the Wildlife Resources Commission.
The Roanoke is an important nursery area for striped bass. The stock was suffering until the Wildlife Commission and the Division of Marine Fisheries joined hands in an aggressive management program.
Today, the stock is regarded as fully restored.
But regulations on the taking of stripers can be a bit confusing. Seasons vary depending on whether one is fishing in the "upper" or "lower" portions of the river. The upper portion is that area upstream from US 258. They lower Roanoke includes the river and its tributaries downstream from the bridge.
The Fisheries Division of the Wildlife Commission is preparing a proposal to open the striper season in the entire river at the same time. It also feels the season should be extended by two weeks.
In addition, the Commission will propose increasing the harvest of stripers in the Roanoke Management Area by 100,000 pounds a year. The current recreational fishing allotment is 137,500 pounds. A final ruling on increasing the quota would have to be approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
The public will have the opportunity to present views on the proposals at public hearings if the Wildlife Commission adopts the recommendations now being drafted.
WRC Fisheries Chief Bob Curry sees the proposals as simplifying regulations and increasing fishing opportunities.
We'll keep you posted as this idea develops.