10/09/09 — Spot run passes fun through generation

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Spot run passes fun through generation

By Mike Marsh
Published in Sports on October 9, 2009 1:46 PM

My son Justin fished with me during his pre-teen years. But then the "wild child" decided fishing was boring. I told him one day, when his life got too busy to go fishing, he would cherish that way of being "bored."

Six years in the U.S. Navy aboard a ship with water, water everywhere, but not a rod to cast to it, made him long for childhood days. Helping me with my next book "Fishing North Carolina" stoked his fishing fever over the summer.

He borrowed one of my canoes after summer ended and carried it to Charlotte, where he is an engineering student at UNCC. He now goes fishing every chance he gets. While he had never shown an interest in pier fishing, I casually mentioned the spots were running at Kure Beach Fishing Pier during a phone conversation last weekend.

"Really? I'm coming home right now," he said. "I'd like to catch a cooler full for a fish fry."

Whether he remembered how good spots are to eat after becoming a "starving" student or just became homesick is debatable. In any event, he left for Kure Beach that instant and made the four-hour drive.

Word travels just that fast when the fall spots arrive. While most anglers call the migration a spot "run," you have to wonder where the term came from. Fish jump and swim ... some even fly. But they have no legs and feet, so how can they run?

But run they do when the miraculous southward migration occurs each fall. Nor'easters of September and October cool the water and blow the fish toward shore where anglers can catch them by the ice chests full from the beaches and piers, and from boats in the inshore waters.

Of course, by the time Justin arrived home, the wind had switched to the southwest. The weather was nicer than the rain and cold wind of the weather front. But the fish had slacked off as the schools were blown offshore.

Mike Robertson, whose family has owned the Kure Beach Fishing Pier for three generations, said not to worry.

"The spots will bite on the high tide at night," he said. "Night is a great time to fish if you have to work or have family obligations during the day. They might bite on anything -- bloodworms, artificial bloodworm strips, shrimp or canned corn."

My wife Carol had purchased a Roddy Rod at the grand opening of Rusty's Bait and Tackle in Holly Ridge just for the occasion. The pink rod has a reel that lit up with flashing lights every time she reeled in a fish. She has fished Kure Beach Fishing Pier since before she can remember. Her father, Lewis Jobe, carried her to the pier when he fished while she was only a toddler.

"I loved fishing with my daddy," she said. "This Roddy Rod might look like a toy, but it makes me feel like a little girl again. It's actually a great rod for fishing the pier."

Lewis had to leave early after a losing a non-winnable battle with ALS. But he had fished from the pier from his wheelchair for many years. Mike Robertson allows disabled anglers to fish the pier for free.

The spot bite was spotty during the day and into the evening. A dozen or so fish were in the cooler before the tide neared its peak. Justin called his girlfriend, actress Beth Connelly, and she joined us at the pier. She had never caught a spot before. But, like Carol, her father, Ned Connelly, had taken her fishing since she was a toddler.

Beth baited her hook with bits of bloodworm and cast it seaward -- red, wormy liquid finding its way under her carefully polished and manicured fingernails. Soon she felt a bite and reeled in her first spot. Taking it off the hook, she added it to the others bumping around in the ice chest.

"That was so much fun," she said. "I wonder how many we can catch?"

A dozen bloodworms later, more than 60 spots were in the cooler for the trip back to Charlotte to feed Justin and his fellow students a fall feast.

I wished aloud to Carol that her father could be there to see his family having all that fun fishing on the pier and experiencing the joy of the spot run as he had all those years ago.

"He's here with me, and with you and with Justin," she said. "Now he's right here with Beth, too. He's in our hearts, watching us and fishing with us right now. As long as were here, he's here, too."