04/16/06 — Striped bass season extended one week

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Striped bass season extended one week

By Gene Price
Published in Sports on April 16, 2006 2:15 AM

A week extension of the striped bass season in the lower Roanoke River has been announced by the Wildlife Resources Commission. The extension through April 22 was based on lower than expected catches of stripers into the river because of low water levels.

The season had been scheduled to close yesterday. (There is no closed season on the Neuse.)

The lower Roanoke includes those waters from the U.S. 258 bridge near Scotland Neck downstream to the Albemarle Sound.

The season for the upper Roanoke -- from the 258 bridge to Roanoke Rapids Lake dam - runs until 11:59 p.m. on April 30. There are no plans to extend that season.

Fishermen are allowed to take two stripers each per day. The fish must be at least 18 inches in length. None between 22 and 27 inches may be kept -- and only one striper larger than 27 inches may be included in the daily bag.

The "slot" requirement is to protect mature fish whose presence is important in the river during the spawning season.

Today's striped bass stock in the Roanoke River is a classic success story of fish management. Twenty years ago, fish biologists were alarmed over the dwindled stock of stripers making the annual spawning run up the Roanoke. The problem was being experienced all along the Atlantic coast.

The Wildlife Commission and the Division of Marine Fisheries joined in efforts aimed at recovery of the fishery.

They significantly reduced the annual harvest poundage and restricted when stripers could be taken by both recreational and commercial fishermen. At the outset, the overall harvest on the Roanoke was reduced by a drastic 80 percent!

That raised the hackles of some commercial fishermen, but limiting the catch of commercial and recreational fishermen worked. By 1997, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission declared the Roanoke River stock of stripers was "recovered."

Providing outstanding leadership in that effort for the Wildlife Commission was Pete Kornegay, a native of Mount Olive and now a regional coordinator for the commission's fisheries division.

Squadron to meet

The Goldsboro Sail and Power Squadron will get greater insight into the Coast Guard's role in Homeland Security and law enforcement on the state's waterways Thursday at the Country Skillet restaurant on Berkeley Blvd. Meeting time is 6:30.

The speaker will be Senior Master Chief Edward Spainhower who will represent the commander of the Coast Guard Station at Fort Macon.

The Coast Guard has been assigned far greater responsibilities since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Protecting U.S. ports and waterways is one of its primary assignments.

Tour de Neuse

The first Tour de Neuse led by the Neuse riverkeepers began more than a week ago near the Eno River. It will continue until canoers, kayakers and other participating boaters reach Oriental.

They'll be in our area during the coming week. Paddlers will leave Smithfield Monday and travel to Ferry Bridge, leaving there Tuesday and coming to Old Waynesboro Park -- arriving there Wednesday.

On Thursday, the riverkeepers will make presentations at Goldsboro city hall at 5:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.

The voyagers will leave the Wildlife boating access area on US 117 Friday morning and go to Price's Landing. They will be at Cliffs of the Neuse on Saturday. In a ceremony at 10 a.m., they will plant river birch trees donated by Casey's Garden Center and Waltham Gardens.

On Sunday morning, the paddlers will leave Seven Springs for Kinston.

The project is aimed at stimulating public awareness of the importance of our rivers -- and keeping them clean.

I have been unable to learn departure and estimated arrival times. But interested individuals might check: www.neuseriver.org.

It's fawn time

In the forests, fields and even in some suburban residential areas, it's "Bambi" time. And the Wildlife Resources Commission says the best way to protect little deer is to leave them alone.

It is not unusual to see tiny fawns in the fields and woods seemingly abandoned. But unless the mother deer has been killed, odds are that the little fawns have been left temporarily while the mother has gone foraging for food.

During the first two or three weeks after a fawn has been born, the doe will "hide" it in vegetation while it goes to other areas to browse.

Biologists say the mother will return to the little deer several times a day to nurse and clean it, but staying only a few minutes each time.

The little deer are not usually as helpless as they might appear. By the time one is five days old, it can outrun a human. And after a month, it can escape most predators, according to the Wildlife Commission.

During the first days after birth, the fawns not only have natural camouflage but are odorless.

Contrary to one popular notion, a mother deer will not abandon a fawn because it might have been touched or handled by a human. But the doe will not approach its offspring if it senses the presence of danger.

The commission suggests that if a fawn is observed in the same place for two days and bleating loudly, or is beside a dead doe, a call should be made to (919) 707-0040. Meanwhile, the fawn should be left where it is found.

Even in our area there have been some traumatic experiences resulting from fawns being "adopted" and becoming loving -- and loved -- pets that subsequently have to be taken away.

Fishing's good!

Fresh water fishing seems to be good in streams, rivers and ponds hereabout, according to reports reaching my home and office. There have been no reports of bream bedding yet, but there have been a number of bass, crappie and catfish taken.

The Neuse River has some monstrous catfish which experienced anglers enjoy taking fishing at night with live perch or chunks of meat as bait. If you go after the big'uns, make sure you have substantial tackle! A several-pound catfish might be too much for an ultra-light or Bream Buster.

Catching a striped bass also is not out of the question this time of year. They come up the rivers to spawn. Good catches were reported earlier in the New Bern area.

Let us know

If you have some outdoors items -- or pictures -- of interest, give me a call at 778-2211. If I happen to be in the woods or on the water, leave a message.