Last week’s RI Kayak Bassin’ tourney stop at South Kingstown’s Indian Lake was a fantastic opportunity to go fishing with some of the best people on the water and realize how fishing is important to all ages. Fourteen kayak fishermen hit the water at 7:00 am ready to fish for points, bragging rights and a bit of prize money while two young boys caught fish after fish from a small wooden dock.
RIKB has grown to be a popular freshwater tournament series as they’ve brought the fun of competitive freshwater fishing into the Ocean State spotlight; Sunday’s event was no exception.
RJ Alves showing off a perfect landing at Indian Lake
“There was a big battle for the top spot,” said R.J. Alves as the flotilla paddled into the ramp just after 3:00. R.J. is the Club Director, one of the group’s social media page administrators and all around total character. With Kevin P Amaral, Paul Lopes and Ryan Bessell, they have built a dynamite trail across the state and generated excitement the sport needed.
Chris Catucci has been a force this year, winning nine events but this day proved challenging as Dean Powers, who fished all season from his 17’ canoe, had just splashed his first kayak, a shiny red Hobie Outback. Catucci, known around the pond as King Midas, was crushing it as Powers was struggling. That happens in fishing. Two good anglers can work side by side and one can have a slow day, which easily works on the psyche but Dean kept moving. By afternoon, both Catucci and Powers had registered 79.50 inches of largemouth.
“It’s a game of inches,” someone said about the tournament series. This tournament uses a conservation minded system of holding bass on a measuring board with an identifying tag with one hand, ensuring no ends are covered, and taking a picture with the other. Then the fish is released. Catches can be tracked through a smartphone app. Five fish can be entered, there’s points for the days lunker fish and often, bragging rights are more valuable than payouts. It’s common in other freshwater events for bass to be hauled into a hold, dragged through a hot parking lot in a plastic bag then dumped off a dock after the weigh in. There’s real stress on fish from that hot parade and they’re often released off a dock or beach, left to swim back to their part of the pond if they have the energy or beds if they’re still on them.
Indian Lake is a pretty piece of water supporting a solid population of large and small mouth bass as well as river herring who summer there before migrating to the ocean each fall. RIDEM has done an amazing job rebuilding the public access ramp at the end of Indian Trail South but it’s the only spot to launch. The shoreline is packed with houses and the western side is largely controlled by a homeowners association.
Years ago, a few volunteers were trying to track the path of migrating river herring who left the Saugatucket headed to Indian Lake. They were greeted with a lawyers letter requiring names, addresses and other inquisitions. They were curious how so many herring, which were counted lower on the river as they migrated, seemed to never arrive at Indian Lake, almost like a homeowner with a chest freezer had set up a plywood diversion on the stream with a giant plastic Great Blue Heron to scare fish into the netting area and then the freezing area, but I digress.
“One fish after another, after another, after another,” said Nick Twesten. He was sitting on the boat ramp dock with his two young sons. Cole was working hard to not catch bluegills since he was targeting perch but they were everywhere he cast his cool red rod with a shiny blue reel. It’s a fine day when you’re a good enough fisherman to be frustrated from catching too many fish. His brother Teghan held court at the end of the dock, dangling a worm into four feet of water with the hopes of catching one of those pretty perch. Nick carefully monitored both boys, passing along worms dug in the back yard and trying to keep Cole from splashing around the boat ramp as the Bassin’ team worked to haul their boats.
Dean Powers had kept his slow day frustration in check and landed a 19.5” largemouth. King Midas’ biggest fish was 19.25”. That quarter of an inch difference gave Powers the lead, earning him first place and the lunker fish award. That one quarter of an inch really proves how exciting this sport can be. Chris Gomes finished in third place with a total of 77.25” and it should be mentioned that often times, RIKB anglers haven’t fished a pond before the tourney, which makes it challenging but so much sweeter when they find the big fish because of their natural skills.
Nick had a spinning rod on the dock the whole time kayaks were being hauled and Cole attempted another wade down the ramp but Nick let it lie. Sunday was about his boys catching fish, posing with perch and bluegills and dangling bare feet in warm water while a team of dedicated kayak anglers, sharing a love of fishing, cast long shadows on the next generation of fishermen, guided by their father.