This Saturday looks to be a very busy fishing day.
A thousand or so fishermen, boaters, kayakers and lots of good people will pour into our coastal waters for the Green Hill “Fluke Till Ya Puke” Fishing Tournament. Headquartered at Point View Marina in South Kingstown’s Snug Harbor, the show runs from 5am to 9pm and forty-five dollars gets you in, a t-shirt and an old fashioned BBQ. This is a big day all around, with the fishing, the competition and a grand prize of five large. There are several calcuttas to up the ante and other prizes including a Yamaha 6hp outboard and an inflatable boat. Not to be out-thought, they also have a trash fish”calcutta for the “Biggest Non-Game Fish”. Lines have to be out of the water by 1:00 pm so you can weigh in at 2:30.jimmy
This is definitely not a catch and release event but they do encourage you to donate your catch to the Rhode Island Food Bank, which is a top notch idea since there could be a thousand fishermen out there and you can only put just so much in freezer. Donated fish will support the “RI Center Assisting Those In Need” program and whichever boat donates the most fish wins a $1000.00 inflatable.
Tom at Snug Harbor Marina said fluke fishing had slowed due to the wind and even some of the commercial fishermen were not catching their fifty pound quota. One customer did land an eleven pounder so there are a few out there. The best spots seemed to be along the south beaches near Carpenters in that magical thirty to forty foot depth.
That same Saturday, RIDEM will host a Introduction to Freshwater Fly Fishing at Addieville East Farm in Mapleville from 9am to 3pm. Fifteen dollars gets you lunch, which is always important, lessons in fly-tying, great information about the best spots to fish, equipment basics and how, most importantly, to cast a fly rod. Those first few hours, absorbing your stance, seeing how your arm bends, understanding how the rod feels in your grip, are essential. Everyone comes to sport, like art, differently. Norman Maclean in his wonderful “A River Runs Through It” wrote, “All good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
Fly fishermen are notorious for sharing, for passing along fly patterns with a few words about what’s catching or what’s not, but there’s no denying they also look over their Simms jackets to see your form. Mandolin master David Grisman once related how Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass said, “The best thing you could do if you learn to play bluegrass is then go get your own style.” True words that work for casting a fly rod of any weight but you’re going to need the base elements of style before you set off with the confidence to wade a shoreline and start refining your own cast. This class is part of the state’s Aquatic Resource Education program, guided by Kimberly Sullivan and her next offering is a tour of the Lafayette Fish Hatchery in North Kingstown.
Wherever you stand on the issues of stocking, the state does a fine job keeping our waters thick with trout. How long they live outside of the hatchery and where they are stocked, well that’s a discussion for another week. While not exactly a moment for an Occupy Wall Street situation, if you have questions about how and why RIDEM stocks certain fish in certain places, a few of which Nature clearly did not place in our local waters, this would be the time. Stepping aside from the politics of stocking, getting to see the cycle of life, to see how breeders and fry are managed, how fish are reared for placement into rivers and ponds, is a wonderful opportunity. The biologists and hatchery managers work hard to raise fish so if you like to spread out a blanket at your local pond and maybe catch a few for the cast iron pan, taking this tour will help your understanding of how it all happens. To reserve a spot, you can call Kimberly Sullivan at 401-539-0019.
Speaking of trout, Charlestown’s Brian O’Connor has noticed water temperatures approaching seventy degrees on the Pawcatuck River, “one week earlier than last year and two weeks earlier than the year before that”. Brian is a guy who sees what’s obvious only to a few, he knows a poor day of fishing from his sturdy, salvaged canoe likely has more to do with the big picture than fickle fish. Global warming? Donald Trump’s “weather”? Nothing to worry about? Late day breezes had been heavy with whiteflies, Yellow Sally Stoneflies and Chocolate Duns, all favorites for rising trout but there were none feeding. Trout are smart, they have a distinct comfort zone and give or take, 70℉ is too warm for them. Warm water hold less dissolved oxygen, which can cause life-threatening stress so they move to cooler waters, typically farther up the river system and her tributaries. This does add to the adventure of locating them as you explore more of the upper river but with this early departure, they might just be telling us things are changing.