How To Tie Tail Teasers and Tell Tall Tales On A Winter’s Night

by | Mar 5, 2017 | Block Island, Fresh Water Fishing, Striped Bass Fishing

Share This Article On…

                      Grilling steak tips marinated the air.

 Allman Brothers riffs fell from ceiling speakers.

Fishermen gripped tall bottles.

       Winter doldrums gripped us all.

Outside, roads were tight with dirty snow; it felt like years since we’ve been fishing. Each door opening carried in more frigid air and another angler answering a siren’s call. Peter Jenkins: shopkeeper, guide, tier of flies, relentless fisherman and consummate gentleman, stood shaking hands over the glass counter. Peter saw the need, held a Retro Fit Plug Night and created a temporary oasis on a February night.

Peter opened his Middletown fishing shop, The Saltwater Edge, to a cast of characters toting plug bags and coolers. What’s cooler than a gathering of like-minded, seawater-starved fishermen sitting around a few tables piled high with rusting hooks, threadbare swivels and hopes of rigging everything up right for a new season? Peter’s night of escape was a perfect distraction from the calendar.img_7143

Peter has that wonderful youthful exuberance you find with people who always have something to show you or just seem glad to see you. His excitement was contagious. There were stories of fooling largemouth with a green on green imitation frog, a finicky striper falling for a well worn yellow bottle plug on the fifty-third cast or T.J’s new tattooed pink tuna plug cradled in its case, waiting for a sweet summer day at The Dump. Throughout the night, as he hustled between tables, boxes of flies and displays of new gear, he easily tied a rainbow of feather patterns to new tail hooks.

peterjenkinssaltyfly-editedSurfcaster Dennis Zambrotta told some tales. His stories start quickly and can last a while. Dennis put in his time on Block Island, searching for stripers and later wrote a well respected book about his journeys out there. Passing on the bolo, this night was all about his bottle cap leather belt, a fine example of creativity and a daughter’s love. He seemed to spawn fishing chatter with anyone around him and much had to do with the island. “The water just erupts”, “10 fresh squid on ten casts caught ten bass”, “I could see my shadow on the bottom from the rock I was standing on…” Each line would serve as fine opening line to any fishing conversation.

Empty brown bottles stood watch from slot-wall perches, someone asked how many had been humbled by a live eel and T.J. held another fisherman’s Guppy lure in a classic herring pattern. “That’s my wife’s favorite lure,” he told me. He paused. “I borrowed it from my wife, it’s her favorite lure. I lost it.” His voice had softened. I inquired if he had asked for permission first. “No” he said. There was nothing more to be said with the deed done and disappointment surely registered back home.


While Peter tied, glued and spun the last of his amazing custom color matched patterns, the cooler sat nearly depleted. The room’s buzz of classic rock, sadly without a psychedelic spin through some promised stellar 1977 Cornell University show, was interrupted by the collecting of plastics and donning of jackets. Some had driven from as far as Worcester to get a taste of an impending season full of promise.


For a few hours that night, Peter Jenkins made winter go away.

1 Comment

  1. Alison

    I loved this! Thanks




The Sporting Shoppe at The Preserve is proud to sponsor The Preserve Fishing & Outdoor Report by Todd Corayer. The report is broadcast on WPRO 99.7 FM & 630 AM. Click to watch now.

About The Author

Todd Corayer is a lifelong fisherman and occasional hunter whose writing relies on poor penmanship, sarcasm and other people’s honest fish stories while seeing words as puzzle pieces that occasionally all fit together perfectly.

His work has appeared in The Double Gun Journal, On The Water MagazineThe Fisherman, The Bay Magazine,  So Rhode IslandSporting ClassicsCoastal AnglerNY Lifestyles, The Island Crier, and very often in the wonderful RISAA Newsletter.

You Might Also Enjoy…

How To Fish With Your Hands & Learn From The Sea

Long before inventions like propellers, power blocks or stern trawlers, men hauled heavy fishing nets by hand. Hard to believe for some perhaps, but ingenuity, grit and small boats were the common tools to catch, sort and sell a day’s catch. Photographer Markham Starr...

An Ode to E.B. White: Builder of Boats, Maker of Plans, Writer of Real Life

In the spirit of writer, farmer, clam digger and small boat builder, E.B.White, I offer a fishing man’s memorandum for Spring. ∗My words were inspired by my endless enjoyment of his “Memorandum,” from a favorite book and gift of my young son,  1941's One Man’s Meat∗...

spring cleanups, boat ramps and a spring line of camo

  There is a lot happening in preparation for spring and her greatest day: the opening of trout season. 6 am on the second Saturday in April marks the beginning of everything we have waited for this winter, while we shoveled, watched the plow truck drive by and then...

is it a tax or a fee? its it right? would you want to keep paying it?

this piece originally ran in the Narragansett Times back in March. Fishing today can be frustrating and it’s not what it used to be. There are hundreds of rules and regulations, there are trucks parked where you always parked to sneak into your secret spot that’s...

A Tale of Two Rivers In Two Very Different Towns

Bright red canoes were unloaded for late summer drifts down The Wood as scratched, dented canoes were loaded with garbage from The Woonasquatucket River. They are dramatically different waterways, both in need of some repair, both gladly supported by volunteers. On...

Consider sharing this article with your fishing buddies!

We appreciate you sharing the Fish Wrap with your fishing community.