Trout season opened warm clear and bright; a real bluebird morning. Boats of all shapes sizes and materials ground their way down ramps all over South County. Stocked ponds were packed to the gills for the first few hours and the Occupy Barber Pond movement was its usual strong force, with more than a few hundred licensed fishermen and on-lookers, all under the watchful eyes of RIDEM Officer Mike Schipritt. Polite and thorough, he ensured fishermen were safe and licensed. The Saugatucket’s small dock leaned with the weight of happy kids casting, jumping up and down at the first sight of fins. No sound fills a heart like that of a laughing child reeling with a tight fist or swinging a fish up from the bottom. Even for those seeking silence, it is something to be heard from across a pond.
Driving dark roads to your pond, you probably didn’t notice pickups parked where usually there are none. With engines long gone cold, these drivers are those in the know, who followed a path you never noticed to where there will be no crowds. Under a canopy of easy morning breezes, they had no need to check their watches; respect for tradition always trumps regulation. Silent moments waiting for the right light are as important this morning as the trout for which they search. At days end, any reports will be limited, about colors and patterns, not numbers. Those trucks will be gone when you drive home with your windows down.
In the quiet, bare light of false dawn, my young son and I sat motionless amongst tree frog conversations, watching swirls from hungry trout surround our small canoe. The morning commute was heavy, with a drifting cross section of anglers waiting for the clock to strike six. We have started our season here long enough to recognize boats and captains returning to the same spots each year, anchoring up in honey holes and hot spots.
When man had a smaller footprint and Nature still balanced the books, strong numbers of native brook trout inhabited coastal streams, moving down into salt waters during spring and early summer months. The numbers of anadramous brookies has declined in recent years as they face a myriad of natural and human impediments. Whether you are a fan of hatchery produced fish or a traditionalist who feels they stain local gene pools, our state does an admirable job raising trout to repopulate the waters.