Off the Porch: Sensitivity awareness training available now
We called it Sensitivity Awareness Training. It was a retreat for men to get away from the pressures of their jobs and spend some time in nature enhancing their level of sensitivity. In today’s modern world, with the pressures that go with being the family breadwinner and head of a household, men tend to get a little short tempered. They sometimes aren’t as considerate as they should be. They need to spend some time reflecting on what’s really important in life and sharpen their level of sensitivity.
That sounds pretty good provided you don’t know what Sensitivity Awareness Training or “SAT” really was. It is true that, to a man, every one of us came home refreshed and invigorated and I know I was a little sweeter after the experience, but don’t be fooled, this wasn’t a seminar where we all sat around in a circle discussing our shortcomings and counseling each other on how to be more sensitive. SAT was a fishing trip to the Roanoke River.
Not that we pretended that it was anything else to our families and close friends. We did, however, sometimes make references to the spring nature getaway in front of strangers while winking and displaying knowing smiles at each other. The fishing was better in those days but honestly, I’ve told so many lies in my life, I’ve lost my credibility. The fishing was so good that the tradition of SAT expanded every year to include more guys. Eventually, we had guys from Statesville to Jacksonville. We caught stripers on live bait, jigs, flies, and Zara Spooks, and we caught a lot of them. When we fished live bass minnows, we prided ourselves on getting one fish per bait and we stayed very close to that ratio. Having said this, I once bought 56 dozen bass minnows for six guys and we fished them all up in a 24 hour period. You do the math. It was reported that Jay Van Clodfelter and Tony Hunt caught 420 stripers in one day, and I believe it, having seen Jay Van fish. My son in law, Jeff Jordan, caught 18 consecutive stripers on 18 casts with a Zara Spook, and I witnessed that one.
Ok, so it’s not as good today as it was then, but it is still very good. This week, I talked to Jay Van and got a report from last Saturday and Sunday. Jay Van reported that he and Tony boated 89 stripers over two days, fishing jigs. I talked to Captain Rod Thomas this Wednesday and at 1:00 p.m. he had a limit of keepers in the cooler and his clients had boated over 50 fish.
The fish should be strong in the river until mid-May and now is the time to plan a trip. This wonderful fishing is the result of the spawning run of the salt water stripers that inhabit the Albemarle Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The fish that are in the Weldon, North Carolina area of the Roanoke River have traveled 160 miles or so up from the sound and are there to spawn. There are literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of stripers in the river, and they are all concentrated along about six miles of river.
Anglers of all skill levels can enjoy this kind of fishing, in fact, the Roanoke River striper spawn is a great way to introduce new anglers, since there’s almost always a successful trip. Entry level anglers can drift minnows or shad down the river and wait for a lurking striper to brighten their day. More skilled anglers can fish jigs, topwaters or flies while anchored up or drifting the banks. Some of the guides anchor up and fish live shad, a practice that produces a lot of really large fish.
While there are a lot of anglers, the river itself is a scenic stretch of water with very little development along its banks. In times of low water levels, there are rocks to watch for, but this year, water levels are quite high and there’s little risk of banging your bottom, provided you pay a reasonable amount of attention.
Although these are stripers, largemouth bass fishing tackle suits the task best. Most fish run between 16” and 24” so you’ll enjoy your day more with light tackle. Big fish are caught, but you can catch a very big fish on a very light rod. My friend, Dan Yates, boated a 17 pound fish on an ultra-light rod with six pound line.
If you don’t have a boat, there are still slots available with the out of town and local guides that fish the spring striper run. The drive from the Triad takes about three hours and the towns of Weldon and Roanoke Rapids have lots of rooms. If you plan to stay on weekend nights, you should make a reservation. Interstate 95 runs right through town and the rooms fill up quick on Friday and Saturday .
The striper fishing is on like ping pong at the Roanoke River and I have too much going on this week to get down there. It’s killing me that I can’t fish next week, but you still can. There will be a couple more weeks of great fishing on the Roanoke at Weldon; it’s probably the best fishing in the Eastern United States this time of year. Get down there and do it. I’ll be down as soon as I can get there.