Fishing rods, and my collection of them, are quizzical things, very much like my wife’s shoes and respective stockpile. Equally we require certain general design specifics, rarely in similar price ranges, although we do not share technical or fashion related needs. She and I can both justify our separate acquisitions, through purchase or passage, but rarely are the two spoken of while sharing the company of the other; we choose to largely remain silent, avoiding pointless confrontation. I do, however, believe that fishing rods are more practical and therefore more logical purchases, obviously more valuable overall. One rod can, if necessary, be called upon for performance in hard weather, on rocks beaches or aft decks, whereas my better half surely would drag along several bags protecting several pairs in various patterns, none of which are camo, for each scenario. Many have been my highly enjoyable days catching fish without the benefit of footwear.
For most of us, there are two schools of rod owners: the Cabellas/BassPro/LLBean/Benny’s crowd, who purchase a decent rod for a fair price and call it good. If it should break mid-season from an aggravated striper or a poorly timed door closing, no large amount was invested and another is purchased. The other crowd more intimately understands what they require in a rod, what a rod can and cannot do and most importantly, where to get it built correctly. Inspired by my getting to know Howard Reed at Narrow River Rods and the Protect Rhode Island Brook Trout gentlemen, this week I, well we actually, will begin the patient process of building a serious striper rod, a nine foot nine weight four piece fly rod, to be precise.
Over the next few months, and not more I hope, this dark green St. Croix IV will be built by low key underground master rod builder extraordinaire, Steve Babcock. Steve’s lifetime of commercial and recreational fishing led him to begin crafting unique, ideal rods for particular situations. While limiting his art to close family and a very select and thankful few outsiders, he recently built a 6’ St. Croix IV smallmouth rod for my young son. His attention to detail and vision for the final complete look worked seamlessly with his eye to simplicity, weight, balance and feel. Every detail and subsequent weight, no matter to how miniscule, was considered. As a father, it was both supremely pleasurable yet a tiny bit frustrating to see my young son with gear far superior to my own; such is our burden.
So, we will walk our way through the process as a hopefully interesting learning experience into the fine art of rod building. For those keeping score, the blank is a St. Croix 4F909.4, now discontinued but available through the folks at Get Bit Outdoors. Next will come the reel seat and fighting butt, then the arduous process of choosing guides.
Ice fishing report goes something like this: there is no ice and what thin sheens have appeared fleetingly over the last few weeks weren’t safe. As if tackle stores don’t have it tough enough already, there’s a lot less hard water gear going out the doors this season, but there’s still time. We all know the best way to bring about change or improvements in our fisheries regulations is to be part of the process. Doing so is not difficult and quite often, even pleasing. On Tuesday the ninth over at URI’s Coastal Institute Building, there will be a workshop at six o’clock to discuss, off the record, the recreational regulations for summer flounder, tautog, scup, black sea bass and striped bass. Then on the sixteenth at six o’clock, RIDEM will hold a public hearing in the same room. As of this writing, there are no major changes planned for the tautog, scup or striper regs but black sea bass has an impending reduction and there is a potential reduction for summer flounder. RIDEM deserves credit for opening up the process with workshops before official hearings; they are the best opportunity for stage fright-afflicted fishermen or those of us who need to ask questions without being recorded or entombed in the State record. The complete agenda can be read at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/pn021616.htm.
We would be remiss without mentioning the recent loss of our man Fish, aka, Abraham “Abe” Vigoda. Certainly known for his roles as King Alonzo in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” or in “Richard II” being John of Gaunt, it was his timeless, thick jawed, world weary, hemorrhoid-suffering man of few words character, Detective Phil Fish, on the great New York cop sitcom, “Barney Miller”, which endeared him to so many. Sure, he played a key role in “The Godfather” where he got whacked for disloyalty and then killed it alongside Martin Sheen and the ever so cute Kim Darby of “True Grit” fame in “The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd”, but it really was the role of Fish that made him so beloved. What’s more, Abe scored the ultimate nickname and made it stick. In an age of P-Whatever and someone who can’t spell Fifty, nicknames are fleeting; sadly there are far less “Chippy’s”, “Chauncey’s” and “The Gov’nor” on the docks. Rest in peace, Abe and “May God comfort you together with all those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.”