Bob Kolb and the Speedy McSkiff crew find the fish
Fishing has been difficult.
It’s been difficult to concentrate, paddle or steer. It’s been difficult to catch, land or even release. With so many distractions on waters fresh and salt, fishing’s been difficult because things keep getting in the way.
It’s been difficult to pack a plug bag and hopscotch a long weaving sandy weed line from an overpriced publicly owned beach to the slinky throat of the Pettaquamscutt River. So many summer visitors can make the beach a bit on the overstuffed side but there’s fish in there for sure.
Parking is free only after beach security clears out and locals can move in with pizza and possibly wine. Fishermen looking to spend a few dollars on bait at a local shop need to save a few more to start their walk by paying to park.
The Ocean State can be difficult.
Night time is the right time on Narragansett Beach and through The Narrows as bass will stripe her edges, feeding on sand eels, crabs, shrimp and clams, but then occasionally there’s the pot-bellied visitor, wrapped in last season’s trunks with sunblock hand prints tattooing far reaches of his portly backside, hauling out a twenty pound beauty under a steamy July sun.
That’s a difficult image but it happens.
It was difficult writing about largemouth as RI Kayak Bassin’ co-founder RJ Alves had been laid up and off the fishing circuit while he got his own circuits rebooted.
Fortunately, Matt Tetrault had the helm to ensure a perfect day of friendly, competitive fishing at Burrillville’s Wakefield Pond.
Finding bass in Block Island’s kettle ponds has been difficult given all the honeysuckle vines lacing paths and shady shorelines where bass perch.
Fragrant, easy on the eyes, sweet on the tongue, patient hands are required for guiding steady fingers to retract such slight white bows, to discover tiny honey tastes so intriguing and delightful that several dozen more selections are required to satiate a new summer taste.
Difficult are the honeysuckle; the island’s Geoff Hall knows how to pick a handful and make quick work of them but it’s blackberries that slow him from his rounds.
Branches soon will be sagging from sugars bursting past tiny seeds with fishermen delaying pond approaches to stain their fingers. A few good South County anglers paddled a board and kayak in search of largemouth this week but were soon called off course by sights of wild blueberries, tart, tiny and strong. They were in there, almost, almost ready for the picking, behind thick wild rhododendrons flowering a few weeks later than their more cultured cousins. They were in there, tight to sandy edges were water lays against their roots. Bass and white perch were in there also but the hunt for wild blueberries won the day.
It’s been difficult to manage a complex social media catastrophe such as Fish Wrap, with so many postings, pm’s, texts, blasts and associated cacophony of bings and whistles chaining hand to keyboard.
Kayak fisherman Steven Fletcher led me to his blog, marshrat.wixsite.com/marshratfishing, showing readers how he’s been paddling shallow South County backwaters for schoolie bass and pedaling through endless acres of first cut eelgrass taking the high ground around a floating shellfish business.
Fishing’s been productive and less difficult these last few weeks as he recharges his Texas batteries, switching from redfish to bluefish, twitching a chattering top water bait, luring stripers off sand eels, crabs and shrimp.
It’s been difficult to organize an outdoors column while highliners like Capt. Ray Stachelek and his Castafly Charters customers are finding good sized bass around Block Island and in close when fog assumes control.
His reports and pictures are a delightful house of mirrors, drawing readers into his stories and away from the ones they’re supposed to be writing.
That’s why he’s a highliner.
It’s been difficult to mow the lawn when schools of bait are flying around Segar Cove in Potter Pond. They’re demanding little beasts, swimming in wide then tight swaths, chased by stripers racing like rocket ships pushing those peanut bunker to acrobatics in four feet of weedy water. Once exposing themselves on the surface, they left again, only to appear again in far off nervous waters along the eastern edge.
Lawns will blossom with yellows and whites of unwanted weeds as a lucky few fish, dig clams, throw cast nets or waterski their way to sore shoulders in a busy, sweet salt pond cove.
Fishing was difficult with loud ospreys overhead. Circling and circling, stalling in some millenia old adaptation, they soar high to see breakfast then pause, arch back and sit tight before making the difficult dive into shallow waters. A dozen worked overhead on Saturday but by Sunday they’d moved north to clear water, leading fishermen to more productive waters, if they knew to follow.
By week’s end, fishing was completely impossible because the dynamic duo of the Simpsons brothers were back on the water. Even after a 49 hour ride from the west coast to a new life close to South County, Michael and his younger brother Gabriel have this fishing thing pretty much wrapped up. They have Uncle Bob Kolb at the helm of F/V Speedy McSkiff, they have VIP status at Snug Harbor Marina and when those three pack a pail of bait and head for open water, they have fish on the run.
In reflection, it would be difficult to imagine a week’s fishing without so many scents, tastes, personalities and distractions or even such simple joys of watching young fishermen like the Simpson brothers catch ‘em up. They remind us of our own youth, why we still leave the dock or pay a fee to wade a shoreline. This week reminds me of how difficult fishing can be when the things getting in our way are the things we’ve come love the most.