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Long awaited 'March Shadness' is finally here

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Throw back photo of Tight Lines’s dynamic duo with entries in the 2009 TASS Hickory Shad Contest, where Rick Goines caught a citation size winning hickory shad on a Custom Jimmy D Shad rig from J. W. Shearin’s dock at his cabin or the Roanoke River at Weldon. Linda Goines caught her hickory shad in the spawning pool of Chockyotte Creek.

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BY RICK GOINES
Tight Lines

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

From late spring, throughout summer, fall and early winter, we eagerly anticipate March Shadness.

For our new readers, March Shadness actually coincides with the madness of basketball in the month of March. It’s that time of year when the shad run on our rivers is reaching its peak.

The hickory shad and American shad, more commonly known as white shad in Eastern North Carolina, have arrived in measurable numbers, taunting and exciting anglers with rod bending, tightly pulling precious shad rigs, enticing anglers to cast over and over again, hour after hour, day after day during the month of March.

Bait shops, fishing clubs and municipalities up and down the Eastern Seaboard offer shad tournaments and festivals, literally offering something for everyone — until the shad return to their feeding grounds in the ocean. We have participated in several of those events, but none is as exciting as our own hometown tournament.

Registration is underway for the 19th Annual TASS Hickory Shad Tournament. Head on down to Roberson and Dupree Shoe Store, downtown on N Main Street during regular business hours before the deadline at 5:30 p.m. on the Ides of March, meaning the 15th.

Here are the details:

■ Fishing days commence on Saturday, March 16, and concludes at noon on the following Saturday, March 23.

■ Prizes are based on single heaviest hickory shad. Ties will be decided by first wade.

■ Weigh-in location will be from from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, until Friday, March 22, at Roberson and Dupree shoe store. Please use the rear entrance. Final weigh-in will occur from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 23, at Marrow Pitt Ace Home Center on North Main Street.

■ Only hook and line caught Hickory Shad may be weighed in.

■ Anglers are only eligible to win one prize in each category.

■ Entry fee is $10 per person. That is really a great value.

Adult category includes men and women 16 and over. The junior category is for anglers who are 16 and younger. There’s a special bonus for the top three lady anglers.

The Mid-Week Winner is will be awarded to the angler who posts the heaviest hickory shad as of 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19.

This is the week where it pays to be invested as a TASS member. Anglers who are not TASS members are not eligible for the bonus. That $25 membership fee can spell out the difference between a two hundred dollar first place prize and a nifty five hundred dollar prize. Trust us, as we have seen a young man win and leave money on the table for the lack of being a dues paying TASS member. So sad.

To the angler who posts the heaviest hickory shad as of 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, will be awarded the $100 bonus, the leading junior angler will win $50.

Throughout the week, drama increases, so stop by the shoe store to check the stats on the leaderboard. Then again on Saturday, come be a spectator at the final weigh in.

Trust us, a good time will be had by all!

Hopefully, these rains will have dissipated and the rivers will have returned to to normal levels. Wifey asked a marine biologist what happens to fish during a flood? Usually they hunker down in deep holes to avoid being stranded when waters recede. We would hate for March Shadness to be ruined by more flooding.

Rick's Soapbox — Changes in fishing and its rules should not catch our Tight Lines readers unawares. Don’t forget the new 26-inch rockfish rule has been in effect since Oct. 1, 2018, on the Tar River from Battle Park downstream to the railroad trestle in Washington.

Fishing Success? Good for you! Give us all the nice details at carolinaangler@gmail.com. Large-file, high-resolution fishy pix make us happy. We want to hear your reason for fishing story. Who got you started? Looking forward to your replies.

See you on the water, my friend.

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