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Angler Publishes 'Poor Boy' Shark Tale
In National Magazine
BY ERIC CARLSON
When Bob Preston returned to New Jersey last
summer after two weeks at Holden Beach, his
fishing club buddies could scarcely believe
the story he told about his adventures in the 12th annual
Poor Boy Shark Tournament.
"Man, you gotta write that one down!" they said.
So he did.
After reading his harrowing account of nearly being
killed while night-angling for sharks in the Cape Fear
River, tbey were even more amazed and urged Preston
to submit the story to a national fishing magazine.
So be did.
"After a few months. I didn't hear anything, so I
called and asked them to send it back." said Preston as
he relaxed on the porch of his family's Holden Beach
vacation home last week. "They said they couldn't do
that. Because it was going to be published in the June is
That's how Preston, who said he has "never written a
thing" in his life and "barely passed English," became
the unlikely author of the monthly "Fish Tales" article in
"Sport Fishing" magazine's June 1994 issue.
It all started last summer, when Preston contacted the
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries to get the latest fish
ing regulations Included was a list of annual sport fish
ing tournaments As an avid offshore angler who's been
coming to i'o'den Bcach for 20 yesrc, Prsstcn chcckcd
to sec if 'here were any events scheduled here during his
When he found out about the annual shark fishing
competition out of Shallotte Point. Preston called the
tournament headquarters at Hughes Marina and was
welcomed to join the crew on one of the boats The rest,
as they say. is "his" story:
"At the captain's meeting early Thursday morning. I
met my skipper Vem." wrote Preston (who changed the
names to protect the innocent) "He'd been fishing this
tournament for seven years. His pal Hank, who'd trail
ered his boat over from Fayettcville, planned to fish next
Preston goes on to tell of his bew ildering introduction
to sh*rk fishing (Brunswick County style), including de
scriptions of Vem's boat ? looking "like she needed lots
of TLC?* with no radio or Loran. the chum of choice ? a
50-pound bag of Gravy Train dog food; the drag
buoys? eight-gallon jugs attached to the line to help tire
the shark out. and Vem's sccret shark bait ? a dead
"One of my buddies fishin' this tournament would go
round and pick yp road kills for bait Fished possum,
coon, cats ? you name it," Vem assured me "
After rocking and rolling offshore with no success
(dragging anchor as bits of Vern's boat came apart be
neath them) Preston wrote of being relieved to hear that
they were heading toward calmer water in the mouth of
the ( ape Fear River, a favorite haunt for big sharks
But as it turned out, the fun was just beginning They
dropped anchor at the edge of the big shipping channel,
baited the lines, got the Gravy Train chum slick flowing
and settled down to wait for a big strike
I^ate that night, Preston recalled being awakened by
Vern, who calmly remarked that he thought their boat
might be drifting into the middle of the channel
"His words weren't completely registering in my be
ADRIFT AND WITHOUT POWER in the Cape Fear River shipping channel, Holden Beach vaca
tioner Bob Preston contemplates jumping overboard during a night of fishing in last year's local Poor
Boy Shark Tournament. He said illustrator Rick Martin captured the scene perfectly in a drawing that
accompanied Preston 's article about the experience, published this summer in " Sport Fishing" maga
fuddled brain when a long, picrcing blast had me bolt
upright," Preston wrote. "I struggled to see over the
transom. Less than a mile up the channel, coming right
towards us, was an occan tug. Her three vertical white
lights told me she was towing something and bearing
down on us in a hurry."
Suggesting that Vern might want to start the engine,
Preston said be grabbed the anchor rode and "started
hauling line for all I was worth." His anxiety increased
as he heard (he distinctive clicking sound of a starter at
tached to a dead battery With the barge bearing down
on them from 150 feet away, Preston watched Vern at
tach an auxiliary battery.
"Just then he turned the key " Preston wrote. "At the
click-click-click, Vern scratched his head and said,
'Doggone. I gutss this one's dead, too.'
"By now I had one foot on the gunwale and was ready
to swim for it," Preston recalled. "Then I remembered
that we were one of several boats in the channel which
had been calling sharks all night with dog food, pig's
biooa ano cnuriKN u 1 usu ? um to mcniicn that chickvii.
"As 1 tried to decide which would be the least un
pleasant way to die, 1 noted the barge had turned ever so
slightly. I waited, unable to breathe or move, as the enor
mous steel wall pounded by our little boat so close I
could have almost reached out and touched it."
Needless to say, Preston lived to tell the tale (and
even got it published). He remembers getting dropped
off in Holden Beach that morning and going out on a
pontoon boat wiih fiiends later in the day. As they en
joyed the leisurely cruise up the waterway he recalls
seeing Vern's boat motoring toward the Cape Fear, ready
for another night of shark fishing.
It was nine months later before Preston's article in
"Sport Fishing" hit the news stands. He said the editors
left his story pretty much intact, although they embell
ished the language a bit to make it more folksy. But
what amazed Preston was the artwork, drawn by the
magazine's staff illustrator Rick Martin.
"When ! saw it, I couldn't believe it," Preston said.
"He captured the whole situation perfectly. I thought to
myself that this man had to have been with us!"
Winding up his latest visit to the Brunswick Isles last
week, Preston said he just retired from a career with the
New Jersey State Treasury Department and is "hoping to
be a Holden Beach resident within a few years. While
on vacation, Preston said he "can't go a day" without
fishing from the beach and also likes clamming and off
shore angling too.
"I don't think I want to be a writer. That's not my
forte," he said. "I'd rather go fishing."
A resident of Indian Mills, N.J., Preston keeps a 27
foot sport fishing boat at Toms River and likes to go
wreck fish fishing for sea bass, trout and other varieties.
In good weather, he often travels offshore for tuna and
yes, even shark.
"I'm no stranger to shark Fishing," he said. "Wo just
have a different way of doing it."
Preston said he has taken a lot of ribbing about the ar
ticle from his fishing buddies back home in Indian Mills.
He often hears friends hollering from another boat, "You
got any chickens on board?" But he admits that Gravy
Train is beginning to catch on up norih.
"Hey, whatever catches fish, right?" he said. "It's a
whole lot cheaper than a bag of chum!"
RELAXING ON THE PORCH of his family's
Holden Beach vacation home, Bob Preston of
Indian Mills, NJ., displays the national fishing
magazine containing an article he wrote about
fishing in the annual Poor Boy Shark
Tournament out of Shallotte Point last summer.
PHOTO BY BUI FAVER
AS BIRDS SUCH as this green-backed heron live out their lives in our midst, they don 't seek our
approval or seem to care what value we assign to them.
We Don't Take Bows!
BY BILL FAVER
Several years ago an interesting little book for chil
I dren was published with the title "Clams Can't Sing."
The theme explored in the book
I is that because clams can't sing
like some of the assembled group,
they must just sit and listen. As
the story develops, the clams do
put together a "song" and surprise
I the group! When their song is ap
plauded and the audience de
mands more, the clams response
is "We don't take bows!"
This storybook answer can re
FAVER mind us we ought not to expect
[ human-like responses from creatures which are not
I human. They have their own responses and contribu
I tions and ways of living.
We often try to define their lives based on our
judgements and values. We assess their performances
based on our understandings of what they do.
Perhaps we need to try seeing them for what they
are ? living organisms with a reason and a right to
share life on this planet. Perhaps we should overcome
the temptation of assigning a value to them based on
how useful ilicy may be to us.
It may be humbling for us to realize that birds and
worms and thousands of other creatures do not need
human beings in order to survive. In fact, they would
probably survive much longer without us and our in
terference in their lives.
One of the best ways to learn appreciation of other
life forms is to see them in their own environment do
ing their own thing! They aren't asking for approval
or playing to us as they live, reproduce, and die. And,
as they live out their functions of life, they don't take
Heart Walk Planned For October 1
Walkers throughout Brunswick
County will put on their favorite
walking shoes Saturday, Oct. 1, to
raise money for the Brunswick
County Division of the American
The walk will begin and end at
Shallotte Middle School on the
morning of Oct. 1.
Participants in the Heart Walk
collect donations from friends and
co-workers to raise money to fund
cardiovascular research. Cardio
vascular disease and stroke are
North Carolina's number-one killer,
accounting for 43 percent of all
" Walking can help
people get physically
fit and condition their
hearts and lungs. "
? Judy Seaboldt
The non-competitive, just-for-fun
event is expected to draw partici
pants of all ages. American Heart
Walk is a national event sponsored
by Lederle Laboratories and is held
in communities throughout the
Judy Seaboldt, event chairman,
said funds raised through American
Heart Association walk pledges and
donations will support the associa
tion research, public and profession
al education and community service ,
"We are trying to spread the word
that walking can help people get
physically fit and condition their
hearts and lungs," Seaboldt said. "It
is an activity the entire family can
For more information about par
ticipating in the walk, call Seaboldt
at NationsBank, 579-3550.
Chbjce of entree and 3 vegetables
(tea or coffee included)
Sunday Lunch Buffet
Relax, we'll do the cooking. 1 1 :30-2 PM
Closed Sunday evenings.
Seafood ? Sandwich Plates ? Prime Rib
Lunch Specials ? Salads ? Carry-Outs
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