ice fishing

howard reed has had enough and that’s a damned shame

A new Penn Spinfisher V spinning reel lists for about $180 at a tackle store but Amazon will send you one for $130, no tax, free shipping. You’d be a fool to pass up that offer, right? “Are you going to get Amazon to spool that for you?” asked Howard Reed at Galilee Bait and Tackle. What’s the plan when you need some small repair or you don’t understand how to properly lubricate it? Will Amazon or Home Depot or some other big box that stocks tires, tablecloths and sporting goods give you a fishing report as well?

lots of us need guys like howard to tell us what bait is where and what's chasing them

lots of us need guys like howard to tell us what bait is where and what’s biting

Howard is a fine rod builder and rebuilds all types through his Narrow River Rods company. Showing me a pretzel bucket full of worn out guides, one or two from the hundred and fifty or so he repaired just this year, he spoke of the fishermen who skipped his shop to fish in Massachusetts for higher limits of sea bass. That’s a loss of bait, tackle, reels and some new rods, which adds up fast. Then there’s the construction out front, starting with a boat ramp and now a bridge, sewer lines and new road. It was a windy stretch of cold mud when we visited, not exactly the optimal path to a retail store. The boat ramp should have been a perfect neighbor, with all those potential customers needing bait and gear but it’s a hard business. It’s not the ideal small town lunch counter, bait and beer shop from Grumpy Old Men, where everyone spends a few bucks on coffee, grabs a bag full of cans and buys bait for the day, it’s a business being crushed under the internet’s relentless girth and the limited margins in green crabs and free fishing reports.

So he’s called it, closed up and hauled out the unsold tackle. With a change in seasons upon us and amazingly, the holiday shopping season closing in, maybe this is the right time to pledge a real portion of our tackle purchases to local shops. Whatever the number is, keeping those dollars in our towns would do so much for protecting some small businesses we need. Gas stations can sell Kastmasters and swivels, but we still need someone to put the pieces together with a wink and a tip to where the bite is. Years back, a local shop recommended a wooden egg and bucktail trailer setup; a combination as yet unknown to me. Despite being convinced they were playing me for a fool, I slung that rig into a tall surf line at Deep Hole the next morning and over the next few fantastic hours, landed a dozen big fat stripers. You won’t get that advice from the KMart. Having the many basic fabrics of our towns wiped away by the lure of a discount or a discounted lure will only leave us with a few deals and no place to go. Sorry to see you go, Howard.

you don't get to catch fish like this without some knowledge and lots of it starts with local tackle stores, like Galilee Bait&Tackle

you don’t get to catch fish like this without some knowledge and lots of it starts with local tackle stores, like Galilee Bait&Tackle

Several days of rain and relentless northeast winds have clouded the surf with weed sand foam and anything left loose along the shore, so fishing has taken a natural hit, with the exception of a few south facing spots. Largely the reports have been “all ahead slow” and after all this wind, even reliable Block Island will take a while to recover. Kevin Stone of the Narragansett Surfcasters mentioned that all the usual spots were unusually slow and whatever he did manage to catch was undersized.

After all the weeks of bass, bonito, blues and bait, hopefully the rough seas will not wreck our hopes for a strong fall season. Maine enjoyed a decent striper summer with most of the success coming near river mouths and outlets for migrating alewives. They have shared in our recent hard weather so the bite may slow for them as well. That same rain, however, was inspirational for Bob Glencross over at LL Bean. As a tongue-in-cheek ode to his determined fisherman/co-worker Brian Golding, who left work to face storm clouds and the end of a season, he penned:

Ode to the Soaked Angler

Yes, I went a’angling in the rain,

Against all sage advice.

That must be why they call me Brain

And other things not nice.

But I am committed,

Or I should be, anyway,

To the pursuit for which I’m fitted

To this, the very last day.

Though my skin be wrinkled,

My nose be full of snot,

My memories are sprinkled

With all the fish I got—or not

Fishing in the rain and wind makes good sense to us but from an in-doorsey perspective, we may look just plain crazy. And that’s ok.

Sadly, the body of 55 year old fisherman Chin Liao of Westford, Massachusetts, was pulled from the rocks around Beavertail on September 30. His family reported him missing after he failed to return from a fishing trip and his car was located in the parking lot. Jamestown’s Marine One assisted RIDEM and the US Coast Guard in retrieving his body. Our condolences to his family for their loss.

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