Angler out to defend her Roanoke River Grand Slam title

CorrespondentMarch 21, 2013 

At work, Jill Shearin is a registered nurse. At home, she’s a busy mom. At leisure, she’s a frequent angler on the Roanoke River.

This spring, the Roanoke Rapids resident also has the role of defending champion when she competes in the second annual Roanoke River Grand Slam fishing series on the waterway she has known all her life.

“I fish on the river more than on the lake. I don’t bass fish,” said Shearin, 43, who started fishing as a child with her late father, Ted Gray. “I like the Roanoke River. That’s pretty much what I fish all the time. And the ocean.”

Mayor Julia Meacham and event coordinator Bob Lufkin “have done a wonderful thing” in establishing the Rockfish Capital of the World’s Grand Slam series, Shearin said.

The Grand Slam starts with Saturday’s Shad Shootout hickory shad fishing tournament. The Rock the Roanoke rockfish (striped bass) tournament takes place April 20, and the 24-Hour Catfish Challenge is May 10-11. The series title is determined with a percentage formula based on fish weights.

Grand Slam anglers should register before Saturday. Grand Slam entry is free, and adult and youth tournament fees vary. Prize money exceeds $3,500. Teams and individuals can register at or call (252) 536-4836.

“This time of year, you’re almost guaranteed … to catch fish,” Lufkin said.

Last spring, Shearin was a few ounces out of first place until she caught a 37-pound catfish on cut bait to finish second in the final tournament and edge James Tolbert of Roanoke Rapids for the Grand Slam title.

“I knew I really had to do well with my catfish to win,” she said. “(The Grand Slam) made it more exciting and more competitive.”

Shearin is passing on her love for the river to daughter Grayson Dawes, 6, and son Dylan Dawes, 4. Shearin’s mother, Marlene Gray, lives on the river and fishes, too.

“There’s so much to do on that river,” Shearin said, praising the upgraded N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission boat landing and pier at the town’s River Falls Park. “It’s really nice.”

Save the date: The fifth annual Oriental In-Water Boat Show and Nautical Flea Market will take place April 12-14 at Pecan Grove Marina on the Neuse River at Oriental. Hours will be noon-5:30 April 12, 10-6 April 13 and 11-3 April 14.

More than 70 vendors with powerboats, sailboats, kayaks and gear have registered. Learn more at, or call Sam Myers at (252) 249-0228.

Seminar Sunday: Limited spaces remain for Sunday’s “Successful Soft Plastic Fishing,” a seminar on using DOA Lures to catch species from rockfish to drum. Guides Gary Dubiel and Dave Stewart will provide instruction, along with guest speaker Mark Nichols, designer and owner of DOA Lures.

The Coastal Catchin’ Seminars presentation will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Shrine Club, 2102 S. Glenburnie Road, New Bern. Tickets cost $60. Contact Stewart at 252-670-2841 or visit

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