The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

June 8, 2012

Regrettably Tar River Shad season is over; proven productive

Rick Goines

PRINCEVILLE — I love shad fishing, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I am upset and a little depressed that the season is over. It has been a big, pleasurable part of my life these past four months.

I wet my first rig, and caught my first shad at the “Shad Hole” on River Road, behind the old Quigless Clinic building in Tarboro, January 25.

The “Shad Hole” was very productive for me this year, with about nine exciting weeks of fishing. Even on days I fished the Roanoke River at Weldon, or the Tar River at Rocky Mount, I ended most days at the “Shad Hole” in Tarboro. It was sort of like a delicious dessert after a good meal. I was rarely disappointed.

Life is all about choices, and during shad season everything else in my life gets put on hold. Chasing shad is my top priority. I’ll catch my favorite TV programs on the summer reruns. I retire early, and get up early.

I’m sure Tarboro police wonder what that fool is grinning and smiling about, in the pre-dawn hours, tooling down Main Street in his old red JEEP heading for the Tar River, “Shad fishing, Officer, it’s my legal drug high!”

For some people, shad are a simple diversion until the rockfish arrive in April. I know some serious fishermen in that Weldon area that considers the shad a trash or nuisance fish. Perish the thought! If I had to choose just one fish to pursue and catch year round, it would be shad, hands down. I just love those “Hicks” and “Whites.”

The real “story” of this shad season was the dominance of the American Shad. That’s the official name, but locally we call them White Shad. Years past, they were the minority to their cousin, the Hickory Shad. Not this year, pal! I can’t speak for anyone else, but 90 percent of the shad I caught this year were White Shad. Always a little bigger than the “Hicks,” they are an absolute pleasure to catch. A 3 to 4-pound White Shad on light spinning equipment will earn your respect and admiration very quickly.

Most years, my winter/spring fishing season ended with the close of rockfish season the last of April. Not this year, buddy row. I discovered a “shad second season” in May that lasted until early June for me.

Battle Park boat ramp was my hang-out, and most days in May, you could find me sitting in my fat-boy blue chair slinging my Jimmy D Custom Shad Rigs, counting snakes, and catching fish. A hard-to-explain weird goal was to catch a White Shad there in June. I caught 3, I am proud to tell you.

I have a new word for you. I need to “de-shad-er-ize” my old red JEEP. That means rods, reels, rigs, net, coolers, buckets, boots, rain gear, and a whole bunch of other stuff

I absolutely couldn’t live without during shad season, need to be removed from the vehicle, cleaned, and packed away for 8 months.

Much to wifey’s displeasure, the Jeep even smells a bit like shad. Pardon me, but I kind of like that odor. Think a new men’s cologne “Shad d’eau Stink-O” would sell?

Shad season 2012 was a good one for me. I thoroughly enjoyed every day of it. Thank you, fellow shadsters, for your help, friendship, and camaraderie out there. I would thank the shad, but they already left town. .

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See you on the water, my friend.