And now for something completely different: good news. Good news for a community reeling from postponed this and cancelled that, washing hands to the bones and standing guard over our Charmin stash. Seriously, the bright side of the coin now is an invitation to get back to our roots, the ones that used to walk trials and swing fly rods, ride bikes and wear out boots.
Thomas Houde has been out and about, dodging schools of high tide riding river herring to catch plenty of holdover striped bass. John Buffery landed a 3.4 pound largemouth just after he stepped out of his canoe. Brian Henrique caught three, four pound largemouths and a 4.4 pounder and could not have been happier. People are sharing pictures of one pound chain pickerel caught on light tackle like they’re big eye tuna because we have hope, because we know we’ll get past this virus stress by getting outdoors.
Mike Baptista went out and bought a new used Hobie PA 14 kayak because he’s not letting anything impede his new season. The story of how he landed such a solid deal involves its previous owner working hard to make everything just right but then passing away too soon. Mike happened into this boat and it looks like the families are happy it’s going to the right home. Sunshine all around.
Then there’s Jason Anctil.
His catches have been on these pages over the last few years and this week, in the midst of so much confusion, he went out and caught and released a pile of largemouth. Jason has a special, unique look on life and fishing. “It’s not always the fish that cure us. To hear the birds, watch the geese and ducks and just enjoy the quiet, all the time trying to figure out the mystery of what lies below,” he said.
Now’s the time to plant your lettuce and peas. If you don’t have a garden, borrow a rototiller and plow yourself a little piece of earth. Clean out the grass, add some compost and dig a few rows. Think of the satisfaction when in a month or two you have fresh veggies and you won’t have argue with a senior citizen over who saw that head of iceberg first. It’s a good time to buy some stocks. With record losses and major nose dives, savvy shoppers might pick up a few dividend yielding companies which, when all this blows over, can be used to fund a new kayak.
Go fishing with someone from Trout Unlimited. Glenn Place is the president and the man can juggle and fish. With trout season finally open, he found a piece of time on the Wood River to land an absolutely beautiful native brook trout.
The Buckeye Brook Coalition had to cancel their annual meeting but that just gave them more time to go count river herring. The Coalition does a dynamite job protecting water and fishes, so to keep your mental balance, how about taking a short training session when all this Covid concern eases and learning how to count fish for yourself? It’s safe, fun, easy and honestly, pretty rewarding. You camp out on a river for fifteen minutes or so, count how many herring you see swimming upstream over a whiteboard, record the water temperature then go for a walk, knowing you did something important and cool.
Instead of pulling those dandelions out of your yard, pull out your tautog setup and go fishing from the rocks. Old timers know that dandelions signal the season’s first fish and that usually means blackfish. The season opened April 1 with a 16” minimum size and you’re allowed to take three fish per day, if you feel so inclined. Maybe then we can take home a nice fish and share a meal and get to know our families again.
The Kayak Bass Fishing group has postponed their 2020 National Championship until the end of the season and put all live fishing events on hold for 60 days. That’s some lousy news for competitive kayak fishermen and women but we can turn it into an opportunity to go fishing, I mean to work hard to stay in shape. Social media is bursting with fishermen and women sharing spots, tips, lure colors and patterns and tackle stores are open for business.
This is the time to go for a walk on any of our trials still open. This state has miles of open space and hiking relieves stress. Check out Land Trust properties and Nature Conservancy open spaces. The National Park Service has waived entrance fees for those national parks which stay open during the coronavirus pandemic. That should give us all plenty of room for social distancing and breaking in some new boots. When you’re home, check out Dan Ferguson’s column for music to keep you grooving and happy. Read all about Bruce Fellman’s journeys through our woods, field and shorelines. Settle in with a Kerry Wholey recommended book and wash away the nightly news.
We have options, we’re fortunate, we’re confident we’ll get through this.
“Confidence is the most important bait in my tackle box,” Jason Anctil said. Exactly.