The mighty Roanoke River is heaven for the Rock Fish Fisherman
Check for dates for when the Roanoke River basin is open for Rock Fish fishing or Stripers with some rules, of course. The minimum limit is 18 inches and only one river bass above 27 inches can be kept, in the creel, as they say.
After April 1, there are certain other rules concerning what hooks you can use for the Upper Roanoke. This is serious fishing, no doubt – a guide is a good idea. And the fishing will be great through June.
Captain Mitch Blake (below) at FishIBX is one of the best. IBX is the Inner Banks. Many of his fishing folks stay at Big Mill Bed and Breakfast, so I hear all the good fish stories and see the photos. The access areas are really close to the inn.
Years ago, Carolyn Roberson at Roberson's Marina on Gardner's Creek gave me this recipe. She told me that you can make it with most any fish you have, even shrimp or crabmeat. In eastern North Carolina, we eat what we catch. Carolyn also added a layer of corn meal dumplings to her stew.
- 1 quart water, approximately
- 3 bunches green onions tops and bottoms, chopped (reserve 1 cup tops)
- 2 large sweet onions, peeled and sliced
- 4 hot red peppers about an inch in length, crushed (like Thai hot)
- 1 pound bacon, fried & crumbled, reserve drippings; set bacon aside
- ½ pound skinned fat back, cut into cubes and fried, reserve drippings
- 5 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
- 5 cups rock fish, cut into bite-size pieces (approximately 3 pounds)
- 10 boiled eggs, peeled and diced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Put water, chopped green onions, sliced onions, red peppers, bacon drippings, fatback and drippings in a large stew pot. Cook uncovered over medium heat until onions dissolve, about 30 minutes.
- Add potatoes to the pot. Layer the fish on top of potatoes. Do not stir. Carolyn put a layer of corn meal dumplings on top of the potatoes. For Dumpling recipe, click here.
- Cook until potatoes are tender and fish is flaky, about 20-30 minutes. You might want to shake the pot, but do not stir.
- When pot contents are done, remove from heat. Combine boiled eggs, bacon, reserved green onion tops, salt and pepper. Pour evenly over contents of pot. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. When serving, gently spoon out in sections because the stew will be in layers.
- The amount of water to add to the pot is a matter of judgment. Make sure the water does not boil out because the stew will burn. Also, gently shake the pot from time to time to make sure it is not sticking. But do not stir!
My favorite story is from a fellow who stayed here and wrote a great review for Big Mill B&B. He called and told me he was so sorry but he misspelled Striper and confessed that in his review he said he had ridden up and down the Roanoke River looking for strippers. He certainly didn’t find any strippers that day.
If you have a hankering to catch a striper or river bass — rock fish, as we locals call them — give Captain Mitch a call: 252-495-1803. If you have a hankering to eat some Fish Stew made from the Rock Fish of the Roanoke River, then check out the Cypess Grill in Jamesville, NC.
Gardner’s Creek is 7.5 miles from Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in Williamston, NC 252-792-8787
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