A Day With Saltwater Fishing Royalty…..Back To Sneads Ferry
A few weekends ago, on a cloudy and windy day, the wife and I got in the car and headed to what we call “our special place”. It’s a place where we can escape our hectic world of producing an online saltwater fishing magazine, babysitting the grandchildren, and veterinarian visits. We were again heading to Sneads Ferry, NC to see all our fishing friends at a “meet and greet” get-together. So, we made our way around the busy traffic of Wilmington heading north on Hwy 17, going by Topsail Island and through the little town of Holly Ridge which is the home of Onslow Bay Boats and soon to be home of Blue Water Candy Lures, till we came to the sign that pointed us to Sneads Ferry.
We left plenty of time to stop by Millis Seaford in Sneads Ferry to get some fresh shrimp. Unfortunately, they were all sold out, which made for the disappointment of the day. We then headed over to the “meet and greet” to see what it was all about. We thought the attendance would be kind of small due to the weather. The wind blew furiously and there was an overcast and the air was damp.
However, when we got there, we were shocked to see a crowd of nearly 200 anglers, spouses, and children having the time of their lives. Live music was playing, and the great smell of BBQ and hot dogs cooking was in the air. The skies began to clear, and the sun came out. Walking up, we started to see familiar smiling faces that brought smiles to our faces as well. We were in Sneads Ferry, NC where life has a special meaning. It’s a place where Kathy and I have attended numerous “Pig Pickin’s” as well as weddings. All great times with great people. And today was no different.
After shaking a few hands, we decided to grab a bite to eat. We couldn’t decide between Eris Jones’ BBQ, which is the favorite of the entire Sneads Ferry population and beyond, or the hot dogs with Eris’ fantastic homemade chili. We made the easy choice and had both as well as seconds. Come on, it’s OK, we’re in Sneads Ferry. It’s about having a good time with friends.
Now here’s what you may not realize. This was not just a gathering of local fishermen and their families which is a great thing in itself, and nor was it just a group of local fishermen having a pig roast. It was much more. The organizer and cook was Captain Eris Jones, one of the top Southern Kingfish Association anglers. As a matter of fact, he was the SKA National Champion in 2015. Eris’ girlfriend, Brenda Cooper, was also the 2022 Lady Angler in the U.S. Open and winner of the SKA Lady’s Division 2 tournament. The host of the event, which was held at the New River Marina, was Captain John Cruise, the 2020 Big Rock Champion. John also recently caught a 900-pound Bluefin Tuna last December which is the current North Carolina state record. Also, there was Bob Carr the 2019 U.S. Open King Mackerel Champion, and others from the saltwater fishing community. It was a family reunion of saltwater anglers. Throughout the afternoon, we shook hands and chatted about everything from fishing to our families.
As I walked around the folding chairs filled with familiar faces, I suddenly realized that I was again in my “special place”. It wasn’t special because of the location or the weather. It’s special because of the people that surrounded me. We all shared one thing in common and that was our love of saltwater fishing and all the things that go with it. The following weekend the Master’s Golf Tournament was held in Augusta Georgia. It was attended by thousands of people rubbing elbows with golf royalty and millions of dollars paid out. That’s OK because the weekend before I was in Sneads Ferry rubbing elbows with saltwater fishing royalty and eating Eris’ BBQ and seeing my friends. I know I had a better time. It’s a place where life is enjoyed!