The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Tight Lines

April 6, 2012

John Cherry Rockfish Rodeo upcoming on the Tar

TARBORO — Save the date, Saturday April 28! It’s the annual John Cherry Rockfish Rodeo On The Tar, and this year’s tournament promises to be bigger and better than ever, with over $4,000 in prize money.

This tournament is named in honor of John Cherry, son of Robert and Jo Cherry. After a courageous battle, John was struck down by Batten's disease in 1993 at the young age of 23. John was before my time in Tarboro, but several who knew him said he was a fine young man. It is heartwarming and a wonderful tribute to his family and friends that John Cherry’s name and memory is preserved and associated with this annual quality event.

One of John’s greatest pleasures in life was fishing on the Tar River with his Dad.

Tournament director, Jimmy Dupree, Jr., recalls that the last time he saw John, it was at the River Road boat ramp, and he was very excited and happy about the Rockfish success he and his Dad had enjoyed that morning on the river. What a great way to remember someone!

Proceeds from this annual event help fund The John Cherry Memorial Scholarship at Edgecombe Community College as well as other TASS supported community projects.

Registration is $100 per boat and gets under way at 9 a.m. on Monday April 16. The line will start forming that morning at the front door of Roberson & Dupree Shoe Store, on Main Street in downtown, historic Tarboro. Tight Lines will be there. You bring the coffee, and I’ll bring the donuts.

Changes to the event this year include fewer boats being allowed to sign up and payouts going to six top weight places. Of course, fewer boats means safer fishing out there and better chances of winning for all participants. Each boat is allowed to weigh in their two biggest rockfish. Cash awards will also be given for the biggest catfish and blackfish.

The single biggest rockfish award yields $750 and is named out of respect for the late Jimmie Keel, who was always a big supporter of all things TASS.

Hotspot of the Week – Goodbye, shad, HELL-O rockfish! It’s time to upgrade that equipment a little, put on that 20-pound test line and challenge those stripers that are hanging around the Tar and Roanoke Rivers doing that reproductive thang, or if you are a romantic, the continuing love life of Rocky and Rockette.

The highlight of my 2011 Rockfish season was witnessing Bobby Mason catch a 40-pounder in the Roanoke River. Temporary blindness (cough, cough) prevents me from being more specific about the location; that, and the fact Bobby Mason would probably slap the taste out of my mouth if I divulged our actual spot. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know exactly where we were, but you can bet your little tin booties that Mr. Mason can find that spot with a blindfold on.

Rick’s Soapbox – Jimmy Dupree, Jr., who has forgotten more about catching Tar River shad than I will ever know, informs me that it is highly likely that a second wave of shad will make an appearance in all their usual places here in May. Marine biologists, in the past, have confirmed that these are not left overfrom the initial run, but new fish from the Atlantic Ocean seeking spawning grounds. This run does not attract a lot of fishing attention because most folks are out chasing rockfish. These May shad will get my attention. You can bet thefarm on that.

Catching fish? Tell us about it. Better yet, send us a picture with all the details. We love to hear from you at

See you on the water, my friend!

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Tight Lines
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