TU 737 leads the way, teaching good kids about fish and fishing

by | Aug 5, 2016 | Fresh Water Fishing

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Some would have you believe it’s a grim, hugely horrible world out there, but it’s not.

In a sleepless, loud 24 hour news cycle we are bombarded with bombings, shootings, terrorists, ancient politicians who just won’t go away, those pesky immigrants who want a piece of the dream and people marching, screaming in the street. What we don’t always see is the good news because good news doesn’t sell as well. It’s time for some good news.


TU 737 leads the way, teaching good kids about fish and fishing

Trout Unlimited’s Northern Rhode Island Chapter 737, joined forces with Blackstone River Cruises, RIDEM and the fabulous Bonnie Combs to take some deserving second graders fishing Friday. TU members Wes Wyatt, John Fisher and Scott Travers, who also works for RIDEM, took the time to show kids the magic and joy of fishing on a perfect day at Festival Pier in Pawtucket.

Scott also brought the poles and Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle provided gear for the 17 kids, all part of Pawtucket’s Children Opportunity Zone. It seems the Empowerment Factory’s Gail Ahlers was planning an adventure for the kids so she reached out to Bonnie, knowing about all her good work with recycling fishing line and cleaning up lazy fishermen’s trash. “She had asked if I knew anyone who could do this and I knew just who to call…Wes at TU”, Bonnie wrote in an email.


a few minutes on a dock can make a huge difference. believe me.

That statement alone says volumes about the reach of TU and their chapters. Trout Unlimited is well known not just for their focus on cold clean waters and the trout who depend on them but on kids and those new to fishing. Local chapters like 737 spend plenty of time spreading the good word to our state and not just fly fishing either, but the joys of the pursuit we all love and the lifelong memories made on the water.

Not to miss a beat while the riverboat Explorer motored along, Bonnie helped the kids collect discarded fishing lines and trash our less considerate fishing public leaves behind. “While a second group of students were waiting for their boat, I gave them a presentation and each got a can. I challenged them to walk the pier, looking for line”, she said. Bonnie is the Marketing Director at Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc, teaches the Fish Responsibly programs and as we have highlighted in these pages is welcome force of positive energy, especially when it comes to protecting our environment. “Seeing kids come running back with smiles and hands full of line made my day!” she added.


just some of the trash we leave behind

Standing on a dock with a rod and line is a simple pleasure, one lots of us experience regularly. For some inner city kids, it has the real potential to be something different or better, a turning point. We’ve all heard those retrospective speeches of how just wading a stream, playing at the beach or even running under a sprinkler fostered a lifelong love of water and a desire to learn more about it and the animals it supports. A few hours in a boat, on a river, with good and generous guides like the TU fishermen surely made a huge impression on those young people. Even better, those hours may open doors to understanding conservation with the importance of protecting our great outdoors. All this was good news all around.



a perfect day, learning to fish the blackstone river


The Pabst Blue Ribbon Northeast Catch and Release Tournament is in full swing with this week’s winners, John Hanecak with a 50” striped bass, Gary Stephens with a 27” fluke and Justin Viesta with a 36.5” bluefish all taking home checks. The contest’s largest caught and released bass, bluefish and fluke are worth five grand each to the winners. The real winners here are the fish, since the contest is one hundred per cent catch and release, which is great news to a fishery feeling lots of pressure. We’ve come along way since the days of slaughter and high grading to get a winner. What’s more, Pabst has again chosen to support The Lion’s Club and their Visually Impaired Fishing Tournaments for 2106. Funds donated by the tournament will help the Lions do even more good work with the visually impaired and our veterans. Solid support of a wonderful charity, catch and release only: well done Pabst Blue Ribbon, that’s a real good news story.

Snug Harbor Marina has a shark tourney each year for makos and threshers only, since they are the only two local species we eat; no sharks are killed just to hang from the gantry. They also post the winning weights from day one and set them as minimums for day two, eliminating needless killing of smaller sharks. That’s a good news story. Dave Henault at Ocean State Tackle sells worms in little recyclable cardboard boxes instead of Styrofoam. That’s an easy good news story. The RI Saltwater Anglers Association has, just this year, made donations to Access Point RI, Amos House, the Children’s Center of Blackstone Valley, Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, Veterans Helping Veterans and the RI Center Assisting Those In Need, not to mention the individual persons and their contributions to environmental efforts, like the new fish ladder at the ancient Main Street Bridge in South Kingstown. Bay Day was good news for free beach passes and a chance to fish the sea like we used to do before there was a fee for everything. Ok, sarcasm is not always good news, but it’s fun. Sol Schwartz and John Swienton at Twin Maples on Block Island regularly donate to the local church while providing rods and t-shirts for the island favorite bi-monthly charity bingo. That’s good news, island style.bonniecombsBonnie spends lots of her time picking up remnants of our discarded everything on docks and shorelines, preaching about doing the right thing, TU members donate time and considerable knowledge, even small tackle stores who are feeling the burn of big box stores make the time to donate. It’s not that bad out there. In fact, fishermen remind me of just how much good news there is out there. 

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