The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


January 28, 2013

Let me take you to school with ‘Shad 101’

TARBORO — As you read this, thousands of Hickory shad and American shad, which we call white shad locally, are leaving the Atlantic Ocean entering the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, and heading up freshwater rivers to spawn.  Fish that live in saltwater, but travel to and reproduce in freshwater are classified as anadromous.  Striped bass, better known as rockfish, also follow this process several months after the shad.

This migration of spawning fish provides about 4-5 months of outstanding local fishing action in the Tar, Roanoke, and Neuse Rivers.  We will probably hit about 2-3 weeks in March when I would put up our excellent local shad fishing against angling anywhere.  It’s that good!  If you like to catch fish, an eastern North Carolina coastal river is the place to be during hickory shad, white shad, and rockfish season.

Henry Knight caught the first shad last year on the last Sunday in January 2012.  I expect a similar timetable this year.

The good news is that shad fishing is not complicated or expensive.  You do not have to have a boat.  A ton of shad are caught from the bank.  

Equipment can be as simple as a not-to-pricey spinning rod and reel combo, and a tandem shad rig.  My very biased opinion is that you need to see Tackle Joe at Greenville Marine.  Joe Varnell can fix you up with everything you need, equipment-wise.  My next stop would be either Roberson & Dupree Shoe Store or Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center in Tarboro to purchase a card of six Custom Jimmy D Shad Rigs.  I’ve tried everything out there, and Jimmy D’s work best for me.  I highly recommend them to anyone serious about catching shad.

Personally, I think most people use too much hardware on their line to shad fish.  I prefer a simple small snap swivel on the end of the line.  I see people throw lines with more bling-bling on it than a rap singer. I find that very unnecessary, and sometimes more of a distraction and hindrance than a help.  In fishing, as in most things in life, simple usually works out better.  I believe in KISS, as in ‘Keep It Simple Stupid.’

Shad anglers tend to be kind of bunched up on the river bank.  Give the person next to you a little room, and always be cognizant of where you are casting.  Tangled lines are never any fun for anyone.  It’s a simple cast and slow retrieve process.  When I say slow, I mean painfully s-l-o-w.  Retrieve all the way to the bank or boat.  I could feed a room full of hungry people on the shad I have caught right in front of me on my final reel-turn revolution.  In addition, it’s right darn exciting to see that fish nail that bait before your very own beady little eyes.

Shad fishing is not about strength, but more about finesse and technique.  I think that may be why the ladies excel so much at shad fishing.  Also, it’s a fishing outing the whole family can enjoy.  Fishing skill and expertise is always good, but not absolutely necessary when the river is teeming with fish.  Shad is a great fish to target for novices and youngsters.  Many a lifetime of fishing pleasure was launched catching a few feisty river shad during spawning season.

Rick’s Soapbox:  Congrats shout-out to Robert Cherry who caught a 10-pound striper in the Tar River last week.  Rocky was either an early member of the advance party, or he forgot to leave last spring.  When I asked Robert what he did with him, he just smiled and rubbed his stomach.  Rocky did not die in vain.  He fed a good man.  

I prepare this article in mid-week, and as I write this, no one has claimed the 2013 Tar River First Hickory Shad Contest prize package yet.  Why not you?  Go get ‘em!  

Care to share?  Tight Lines welcomes your fish snaps, tall tales, and outrageous lies at

See you on the water, my friend!

Text Only
  • Joe Miller.jpg Vikings make late comeback

    The Tarboro Vikings bats took a nap for the first five innings Thursday against the South Creek Cougars in Two Rivers Conference action until the sixth inning alarm clock woke seniors Wesley Hart and Joe Miller.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Montrezl Harrell.jpg Harrell returning to Louisville

    Former North Edgecombe basketball star Montrezl Harrell tweeted Monday that he was returning to Louisville for his junior season.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Staton Dupree.jpg NORTH PITT 9, TARBORO 3

    Responsibility and focusing on defense has been the two main priorities for the Tarboro Vikings this season.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brayden Morris.jpg NORTH PITT 7, SOUTHWEST 4

    The offensive struggles continued for the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars Friday night as they managed just four hits off of four North Pitt Panthers pitchers. The Cougars also left 12 runners stranded in a 7-4 loss to Eastern Plains Conference foe.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Katie King.jpg Tarboro beats North Pitt 5-0

    Different games mean different systems for Tarboro soccer.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lexi Rhodes.jpg Wild pitches, walks doom Lady Vikings

    Using the strategy of trying to save arms for pitching a conference game today came back to haunt the Tarboro Lady Vikings Wednesday night against county rival SouthWest Edgecombe Lady Cougars.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tarboro commits 8 errors; loses battle for 1st place in TRC

    The Tarboro Vikings were denied first place in the Two Rivers Conference Tuesday when the Riverside Knights defeated them 12-3 to gain the top spot.

    April 9, 2014

  • Chandler Harrell.jpg Harrell throws no-hitter

    Tarboro freshman Chandler Harrell was able to do something no other softball pitcher has done in quite some time for the Vikings – throw a no-hitter.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Trey Wells sports.jpg Wells sets tone in Tarboro win

    Relief pitching has been an issue for the Tarboro Vikings this season after they get past their No. 1 starter Jordyn Holland. Sophomore Trey Wells changed that pattern Thursday night when he manned the mound in the third inning while trailing 5-2.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sadarius Kelly.jpg Kelly earns complete game victory

    North Edgecombe Warriors coach Jason Miller saw a lot of fixable things his team needs to work on Tuesday when they overcame mental and physical mistakes to defeat the Rocky Mount Prep Jaguars, 13-8 in Two Rivers Conference action.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo