Just now, we take a look back at a piece written for the Southern RI Newspaper family which, due to reasons real and uninteresting, was lost for a while.
Time passes quickly in this digital age but I say taking a few minutes to read about good friends catching fish or even passing away helps keep us balanced.
Borrowing from the spirit of Guy Clark, who wrote, “forgive me all my anger, forgive me all my faults, there’s no need to forgive me for thinking what I’ve thought”
forgive me a few weeks of the calendar,
and read a few stories…
Big bass are all over the Bay, pogies are in the Pawcatuck, fluke are feeding on Newport’s Elbow Ledge. A few bluefish have ventured up into the lower Providence River by the hurricane barrier, fishing clubs are migrating from halls and lodges to stream sides and boat ramps, local guys are moving up the RI Kayak Bassin’ and Striper Cup leader boards.
April and May, with their endless rains and fifty degree waters are done and meanwhile, three friends all landed bass over 40” from their kayaks.
Take that, “Maypril”
Under the cloak of darkness, fishing firefighter Brian Hall peddled and paddled through hours of stiff currents to outlast even stalwart fishing partner Tom Adams and land a 46” beast of a bass, fooled by a live eel. That’s a lot of fish in a kayak, at night, with bullets flying past police lights flashing. With arms spent and legs burning up, he mustered the mettle to lay her gunwale to gunwale and take the best pictures possible, before letting her slip back to the deep.
Kubota Steve, Brian Hall and a bucket of eels
Using that same cloak and a clandestine nickname, Kubota Steve conjured up some eel rigging secrets shared by Brian at a recent Ocean State Kayak Anglers Association social to fish the same general location. Fighting fatigue and a 27” fish curse, he bested a 44” striper, posed for pictures then also returned her safely.
Kubota Steve remains adamant that Taylor Swift music had absolutely nothing to do with his fishing success, which really is an odd sentence for an outdoors column.
In a real trifecta, Three Belles Outfitters Kayak Team fisherman Thomas Houde worked the west side of Narragansett Bay and came up with a beautiful 44” striper. Tom outsmarted her with a Butchiebuilt tube and worm setup from local lure maker Guyton Thorne. A 16” and a 29” striper also came to the boat but that last one was the queen. Tube and worm setups work well from kayaks, especially if you’re pedaling and covering lots of water. Tom’s a big fan of Butchiebuilt’s because they’re rugged, made with quality components and have been proven to last and catch fish. That little bit of bling on the front end and a wiggle in the rear will attract even the laziest of stripers. Throw in some natural swing of tide and current and you’ve got a real winner.
Everything Guyton makes is backed by a guarantee which makes for peace of mind and loyal customers.
Mature female stripers need to stay in the population because they are fecund, producing between 500,000 and 3 million eggs; it’s believed a thirty-pounder can produce almost five million. What’s more, they tend to grow larger and live longer than males, so the quick math tells us that if you catch a big one, it’s probably a female.
Thankfully, all three big girls were released.
A few weeks back, fisherman Tim Benoit passed. I have yet to come to grips with that reality. He was one hell of a fisherman and a fine carpenter. He was a good friend. He was a character. So were Jimmy Gritman,
Captain Jimmy Gritman, part fisherman, part cowboy, part rock star
They had more in common than just bringing home fish, they shared a wonderful sense of character, of being natural characters.
Life often deals us little time to fully understand or appreciate these characters and then they’re gone, or so I’m learning.
The thing is, floating around a salt pond a few nights back, riding that sweet spot where an incoming tide just turns you in slow circles in an outgoing manner, beneath a fading sun’s canvas of wispy clouds in colors I can’t name, possibly enjoying a cold beverage, I got to thinking.
Jim McCusker and his gang
We know life is short, compared to mountains, rivers and the fight to save Bristol Bay salmon. Perhaps it’s age, maybe it’s finally cracking open a few doors of perception or possibly just some melancholy reflection saddled with the reality that a summer’s heat brings busy schedules, roads and ponds.
The High Point is, it’s easy to lose touch. We reach for phones to check a tide or forecast without realizing we haven’t spoken to someone in months or years.
Maybe that’s the person who taught us those first knots or how to tell fluke from flounder.
Maybe that’s the old guy in a flannel shirt and swordfish hat who’s rung more saltwater from his socks than most people have seen in their lives.
Life is short and apparently moves quickly.
Tim Benoit with the biggest little fish he ever caught
Embracing these temporarily long days, I hope we will all make time to lean back with someone we love, give up on figuring out those colors, call on an old character, drift along trusting a silent tide.
To bless us with moments of joy, fish don’t all have to be giants.
Life is short.
maybe with someone you know, maybe with someone you love, maybe with someone you don’t know at all.