Before the rains winds and big snows rolled in, local ice had been clear and smooth, like rolled steel, like the finest glass. In the old days, young kids old enough to know better would have spun old style straight body pickup’s in wicked fun circles all around our ponds, spinning off before the man shone his flashlight on plate numbers, leaving only the sound of huge laughter rolling through the night. Largely this winter has been a calm affair; with easy snow falls and wood stoves sending chimney smoke skyward to chalk soft, straight horizontal wind lines up where every star you can imagine shines, lighting up these very fantastic and special January skies.
Barber Pond appeared as a painting, with light snows hanging on the pine boughs and mirror images below. Last Wednesday, a lone ice fisherman relaxed there in his easy chair, watching tip-up’s, sipping something fine and waiting. For this time of year, it was the perfect image of the perfect January day. Worden Pond is finally full of augured inspection holes and orange flags. Sunday last, even before the post-snow sun had dawned, a few of the guys were already huddled over their gear, sighting with flashlights, waiting for the first fish. Thoreau gave us, “I cut my way through a foot of snow, and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes.” Fantastic.
For those willing to prospect for summer fishing, knowing that lots of brush is knocked back and plenty of vegetation stripped away by our resident deer population, this is a great time to hike in and fish small local ponds. Who can imagine what fishes you may find in that kettle pond you have often driven past and wondered, “I wonder if there are any fish in there?” Given our tremendous glacial scarring, remember that Tucker Pond, Long Pond, White Pond, Cedar Swamp Pond and Wash Pond are just some of the many water-filled kettle holes in South Kingstown. Work will always be work but it will be far more rewarding to look back at the day you hiked into that little something pond, cut a hole for a single jigging rod and under a warming sun on a freezing day, brought in the biggest largemouth you always thought was there, tucked in tight to those tree stumps and frozen greens. Not saying the end is near but in the wonderful words of Edward Abbey, “”May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” Everyone loves summer, I suppose, but for others happy to be relived of the tourist crush and new shiny signs telling us to go somewhere besides where we have always gone, this really is our time.
The Narragansett Surfcasters Used Tackle and Surf Day went off without a hitch with plenty of opportunities to stock up on new and used lures rods and gear. Like a snow day for children, getting to a fishing club meeting in the heart of winter is just what the soul needs: a chance to take a break, think about the things which make us the happiest and hang around with our friends. Fishing clubs usually have a philanthropic side so joining doesn’t mean just dues and an arm patch, it means you get to hang with like-minded folks, maybe pick up that little information nugget that gets you a new spot and quite possibly, give back to our town.
According to RIDEM’s Andres Aveledo, the Post Road fishway reconstruction project is on temporarily hold as the contractor, Narragansett Dock Works, waits for some custom bent rebar from a different contractor to get the wheels back in motion. Given the cold temperatures of late, they feel it’s prudent to wait until the rebar has been delivered before opening up any new ground. As of now the plan is still to have the project completed by March 1 so man and machine are out of the way for the herring’s return to their river. It won’t be long before Bill McWha and his loyal band of volunteers are back in the streams and brush lines of our critical herring runs, preparing for an unimpeded as possible passage for our most favorite forage fishes.
So now, a tip of the camo hat goes to Andres Aveledo. Throughout last year, as the Galilee boat ramp project unfolded and was completed, and through the ongoing fishway improvements along Main Street in Wakefield, Andres has been an open and agreeable spokesman for both projects. Writing with a deadline and a day job, combined with my perpetual affliction of consistent disorganization, can often times put this writer in a pickle when information is needed and time was not properly allocated. What’s the old and correct expression? An error on your part does not equal an emergency on mine? Well, Mr. Aveledo has answered all my emergency questions with details even I can understand, faster than you can possibly imagine. This column has called on RIDEM to accept some praise, consider some important changes and occasionally called them out on what we considered grievous errors but in this case, they have put the right person in the right job, someone who answers multiple questions before he has even had his first coffee. Cheers to you, sir.