This post originally appeared in the Southern RI Newspapers.
Cold water, piles of trash bags, new flies, cold beer, stripers with lice and if you’re lucky, those mighty anadromous heros of Spring, river herring. So that’s Earth Day weekend, 2017.
Fisherman Matt Toker has a set up a Facebook page called 401 Fishing and has been promoting his Trash Pickup at Your Favorite Honey Hole 2. The cleanup started back on April 8 and runs until this Sunday, April 16. Matt has keyed in a real and recurring problem at many ponds and streams. We’ve all seen it, the spoils of consumerism and lazy folks who think it’s okay to discard their waste wherever they might be at the time. They get to drive away clean but we get to pay the price when the man takes away the parking or formerly obliging landowners swing through Jerry’s Hardware to pick up a chain and matching lock. Given that most of us are drawn to water and fishing out of pure love and enjoyment, why would we even want to leave behind an empty pack of Marlboro’s and a slimy Slim Jim sleeve?
Wide cracking wise man Glenn Hall once told me, “Sometimes it’s the trash in the house not the trash in the yard.”
Matt asks that you pick up and bag any garbage when you go fishing, then post a picture of someone else’s stuff on his page. None of this would be necessary if people just packed out what they packed in. Improper grammar I know, but you get the point.
According to economist Garrett Hardin’s First Law of Human Ecology: “We can never do merely one thing. Any intrusion into nature has numerous effects, many of which are unpredictable.” That stinky soft bait package someone throw in the rosehips because they’re too lazy to stuff it in a hoodie pocket, that non-biodegradable bag will outlast countless generations and only add to the waste. A clean beach means no organized cleanups would be necessary, which also means you’d be reading something very clever and witty about all the fish his members caught and not about a page full of garbage bag selfies.
Thursday, April 20 begins Welcome Back Stripers Weekend over at Aquidneck Island’s The Saltwater Edge. Peter Utschig will kick off Surf Night by sharing pictures and videos of his travels surfcasting for sharks, tarpon and stripers.
Stripers with a fresh coating of lice haven’t migrated this far north just yet so taking in Peter’s “Surfcasting Adventures” show will be the perfect way to stay focused on the thrill of casting for returning bass.
Now Friday is all about that cold water, local beer and talk of rivers. Narragansett’s Trout Unlimited chapter will host a Cold Water, Cold Brew event to celebrate, in addition to Spring’s return and all that she brings with her, World Fish Migration Day. There’s two solid reasons to attend. First, the event will be at Whaler’s Brewing which requires cold clean water for their excellent beers and it’s perched right atop the Saugatucket River. Certainly cold, the Saugatucket is far from clean and this event will raise awareness of alewives and bluebacks annual migrations to ponds they’d been shut out of for generations by walls.
The other reason is the hosts. Chapter 225 members will be available to answer questions certainly about fishing and rivers but also about what they do as a branch of a dedicated national conservation organization. In a nutshell, their vision is “To ensure that the habitats for coldwater and estuary fish thrive in Rhode Island for future generations.” Pretty clear. 225’s mission is, “To conserve, protect, restore, and sustain the coldwater fisheries and their watersheds in Rhode Island through collaborative, educational, and environmental activities.”
They’ll hold a raffle for a sweet one-weight fly rod and the United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island will be on hand to offer help at the vice. They’re hoping people will also bring along a favorite fish picture or piece of fishy art to show and tell. It’s Spring, we’re all relieved to have some clear weather so bring along a piece that makes you happy or takes you back to that special place where fish were rising up like birds.
World Fish Migration Day is just one day when our planet is supposed to recognize how critical clear water pathways are for migratory fish like eels, salmon and herring. Typically, Rhode Island does nothing to recognize the day so cheers to them for seeing and promoting something as essential as fish migration.
Cold Beer, Cold Brew runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 1174 Kingstown Rd in Wakefield and you can contact Emma Lundberg at email@example.com if you have questions. Most importantly, stop in to check out the brewery, the beer, the river and the art. Membership applications will also be available.
On Saturday, it’s The Saltwater Edge Trashbag Challenge. The poet Robert Hunter gave us, “One man gathers what another man spills,” so now fishing clubs are encouraged to walk beaches and access points to collect debris, as much as possible, then take an end game photo. The club with the biggest pile and most members wins one of three Saltwater Edge Gift Certificates valued at $200, $150 and $100. Send your shots to firstname.lastname@example.org or post your photos on Instagram and tag us @saltwateredge and also #trashbagchallenge. Winners will be chosen on Wednesday, April 26th.
TU 225, Emma Lundberg, Peter Jenkins, Matt Toker; they’re all encouraging us to clean up our space, to take in what’s all around us, to know that from that slimy eel on up, we’re in this together and to not just callously throw things away. Garrett Hardin also wrote, “There is no away to throw to.” Happy Earth Day.