The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


January 4, 2013

Looking back on a very productive 2012 fishing season

TARBORO — My 2012 fishing season was a good one. Maybe my best ever! It was all about hickory shad, white shad, rockfish, and speckled trout. More important, than the fish themselves, were the people I met and fished with along the way. Old friendships were renewed, and new relationships forged every place I wet a hook. Anglers are some of the nicest, friendliest, and most helpful people you will ever meet. I say this with tongue in cheek of course, but I don’t trust a man that doesn’t fish.

By changing my usual format, I will focus on the four fish targeted in 2012, and a little history surrounding my involvement with each one.

Hickory shad – We kicked the season off with Tight Lines 2nd Annual First Hickory Shad Contest. Uber shad angler Henry Knight caught the first shad the last week in January, thus the season was underway. We enjoyed about 7-8 weeks of hickory shad action on the Tar River in Tarboro. The regulars would congregate at “The Shad Hole” on River Road adjacent to the Highway 33 Main Street Bridge to Princeville to fish, talk, belch, and tell lies. We had a large time. It was like belonging to an exclusive club, but not having to pay dues, unless you count those 2-3 dozen Custom Jimmy D Shad Rigs I sacrificed to the water gremlins.

The highlight of the hickory shad season is the annual mid-March TASS Hickory Shad Tournament that is always a challenge and fun, fun, fun.

White shad – The “Whites” would be the lead story on many shad fishing adventures last year. The Tar and Roanoke Rivers were chock full of American Shad, which locals call White Shad. The boat ramp at Battle Park in Rocky Mount was a White Shad hot spot for me last season. I even caught a few late-season “Caucasians” there in early June.

When I tell this story, I can just hear KWG (my Daddy) saying, “Richard, you need to get your head examined.” It was mid-March, the height of shad season. I got up at O’Dark:thirty and went to fish the Roanoke River at Weldon. Mid-day, I drove down I-95 to Rocky Mount and fished the Tar River at Battle Park. Late afternoon/early evening, I planted my blue chair at “The Shad Hole” in Tarboro, and fished until dark. I think I actually had a line in the water 12-13 hours that day and caught a caboodle of fish in all locations. Worn slam-out, tired, but very happy! Hey! Maybe dear ole Dad was right!

Rockfish – This Maryland boy loves to catch a rockfish. Yes, Chesapeake Bay folks, we do catch rockfish down here in North Cakalacky, believe it or not. I enjoyed several exciting trips with Bobby Mason on the Roanoke River at Scotland Neck. I stood there bug-eyed and watched Mr. Mason haul in a 40-pound striped bass on one trip.

I always anticipate with glee my annual Goines Rock-O-Rama on the Roanoke at Weldon with family and friends. A special treat for me was having two of my beautiful, precious “Grands,” Hali and Morgan, join me in the fun. Hopefully we can have an encore performance this April.

I partnered with Dempsey Dupree in the John Cherry Rockfish Rodeo on the Tar, and lo and behold, we won 1st place honors due to Dempsey’s skillful good fishing. I was good ballast in the boat to steady us and keep us from sinking while Demps was cranking in the fish.

Speckled trout - John Dupree played matchmaker and hooked me up with Greg Bottoms. We trout fished creeks off the Neuse River in Pamlico County, mostly Dawson Creek, near Janeiro. Catching specs is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and Greg really made it happen for me. So, thanks, John and Greg!

Greg and I participated in the fall TASS Toys For Tots Speckled Trout Tournament, and I had the honor of netting Greg’s 5.58-pound spec that won all the marbles.

Greg has been a “find” for me in 2012. His fishing expertise and friendship is truly a Godsend.

Rick’s Soapbox – Fishing, writing about it and getting paid for it is a dream job for me. The pay ain’t great, but it keeps me in bait, lures, and cigars. My situation reminds me of the guy that landed that much sought after job with Playboy Magazine. At his hiring interview they ask him if $25,000 would be ok to start, and he said, “Geeze, I’m not sure I can afford to PAY THAT much to work here.”

See you on the water, my friend!

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