WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Fishing piers and boat ramps can get pretty crowded during the summer, as well as other locations where you will find an abundance of Red Drum and Flounder.
But the cold of January brings out fishermen hoping to catch Striped Bass, said to be, at one time, thick as flies in the Cape Fear River. One of the most popular Striper fishing locations is Point Peter, the place where the Cape Fear River and Northeast Cape Fear merge together, across from downtown Wilmington.
Sportswriter Mike Marsh says it is exciting when you hook onto a big Cape Fear Striper, especially when using light tackle, which he used when he caught this one several years ago.
"If you get something that looks like food in front of a Striper's face, he is going to eat it, and the strike is hard, and the fight is long and dogged, and he will really pull your line, that's for sure," said Marsh.
Stripers spawn up river, but their trips to their spawning grounds have been hampered for years by a series of locks and dams, one as close as Bladen County. And when the population of river Stripers began to decrease, a fish ladder, called a rock arch, was built directly in the rapids at lock and dam number one, near Riegelwood. It allows the fish to rest when fighting the swift current and get over the dam.
"It is a series of pools that allows them to climb up over the dam, just like they were going up the stairs in your house, and this will help their spawning effort, it will give them another twenty to thirty miles of river to spawn, and a Striper's egg needs flowing water to spawn, so that is why it is so important," said Marsh.
It is still illegal to keep stripers caught in the Cape Fear River and its tributaries below Jordan Lake. But with the rock arch now completed, marine biologists hope this will be the first year they can get evidence if what they have been doing is actually increasing the once abundant Cape Fear River Stripers.
To learn more about the efforts underway to increase the Striper population, the Cape Fear Riverwatch will sponsor the 2014 "Striper Fest", complete with demonstrations and exhibits, Saturday, at the Coastline Events Center in downtown Wilmington.
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