On the verge of a summer skunk, Dominic Gravelin saved the day

by | Jul 15, 2020 | 2020 Fishing Season, Recreation Public Access, Striped Bass Fishing

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Morning could not have arrived more peacefully, laying down her winds to greet a full sun rising behind wisps of light cloud cover keeping fish daring in shallow waters. Kayak fishermen came from Massachusetts, Connecticut and all over Rhode Island. Hobie’s Fishing Team and The Kayak Centre were well represented. Pre-sunrise, Michael Pahlas adjusted his boat and coolest hat ever, a gift from his thoughtful step-daughter, knowing Noe Phommarath was already fishing. By 5:00 am, dim fish finder screens flickered across the cove; tiny lights on a big Narragansett Bay. Thom Houde advised the flotilla by radio where bait was swirling and fish were feeding, on the verge of one of his best fishing days ever. Vee Ounnarath lead boats in a slow parade around subtle contour lines trolling sandworms, catching fish after fish. Todd Treonze, Ben Boone, Jeff Amberson, Dustin Stevens and others rounded out the fleet.

“They work really well, bass seems to be shy of lures around here,” Vee said, referring to how once again, it was Butchie Built tube and worm setups tipped with sand eels that drew most every strike. Fish up to 38” were caught and released throughout the morning with several fishermen catching and releasing fish larger than our new slot limit.

My 8” pink Hogy Pro Tail Eels marinated in Smelly Jelly was a perfect appetizer for darting bluefish before feeling the sting of hooks from nearly everyone else’s offerings. None of my go-to lures suffered any scratches from toothy fish.

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A classic Butchie Built tube and worm setup that catches the biggest stripers

The closest we came to an actual fish was seeing the ones Thom caught. And Noe. And Vee. And Dustin. You get the idea. Surrounded by some of the most successful and nicest kayak fishermen anywhere and a pile of hungry stripers, there was a skunk on my horizon.

Then I met Dominic Gravelin.

Dominic Gravelin hoists another striped bass

“Dad! Dad!” he yelled to his father, Eric, who was paddling as fast as he could toward his son. In a red kayak with a bent white rod, Dominic was fighting and laughing his way through an enviable battle with a big fish, laughing with the wonderful sound of pure happiness.

“Hold on! I’m coming” Eric yelled back.

It was hard to discern who was more excited. That fish pulled Dominic around and around and around while his rod struggled to keep up. With dad now by his side, Dominic pulled up the prettiest bluefish you’ve ever seen.

“To tell you the truth, I’m glad it was you,” Eric said, looking at his son. “It keeps your love of fishing alive. I already love fishing,” he said.

Drop the rod, I mean mic.

The twenty-inch bluefish fell for a white plastic shad imitation in 12 feet of 71-degree water but it sure looked like Dominic could have caught fish with a broomstick and string if he wanted to, especially since he found the lure in the parking lot that morning. By the end of the day, Dominic had caught two blues and a 24” striper on a lure he picked up off the ground. How cool is that Dominic?

Later, we chatted in the sandy parking lot about his epic battles. It all came together on a perfect morning. Eric was beaming with pride. Dominic is a polite, impressive young man with a lifetime of out-fishing the rest of us ahead of him. From this desk, the biggest fish that day may not have actually been the biggest, but it sure was the coolest.

Cheers to Dominic and Eric Gravelin; meeting you two saved my day.

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Maybe not the most clear picture ever but check out the joy on Dad’s face. Bingo.

Over on South Kingstown’s Water Street, where a few landowners attempted to close off access to a long-held public boat ramp into Seaweed Cove, plenty of good folks are resisting the land grab, noting that for generations, the road has been used for launching and landing small boats.

For a recent South Kingstown Town Council meeting, mooring owner Catherine Connery and Matunuck Beach Point Beach Club member Deborah Garneau submitted an impassioned and thoughtfully researched letter, carefully explaining how one of the landowners abutting Water Street, Christine Chase, has provided no proof of road ownership.

They took great exception to her claims of “Hundreds of boats going down Water Street starting at 6:00 am until the ‘drunkards’ leave (from The Ocean Mist) at 2:00 am and that, “It’s not safe and she can’t ‘come and go’ from her property,” among other complaints. They raised concerns with Ms. Chase’s concerns about her renters not being able to “Stand the nuisance,” as well as asking how Ms. Chase was “able to destroy all the bushes and vegetation beside the pond to establish this parking area…beach roses, sea lavender…replaced with huge boulders along the shoreline and along Water Street all intended to damage boats.”

The letter is well worth reading and hopefully, CRMC will address the land clearing issues, which can be clearly seen from aerial pictures.

Stating that Ms. Chase’s address is on Matunuck Beach Road, not Water Street, was significant.

Resident Stephen Hitchery offered surveyor’s maps from 1923 which clearly shows Water Street as a separate parcel abutting several property owners. It does not show any of the complaining landowner’s property lines crossing into the road itself, largely negating to their possession argument.

Correspondence to the Council are public record and available on the Town’s website. “We appreciate those emails. You have sympathetic ears here on the council,” said Council President Abel Collins.

Town Manager Robert Zarnetske noted that CRMC was the only entity which has the authority to continue a determination of ownership. “We do not have the legal standing to make a decision,” he said, adding, “They have legal authority to determine who can use Water Street. We do not.” Why the Town is separating discussion of a piece of dry land on which they placed a blue street sign which leads to a ramp into coastal waters needs more discussion.

Cheers to President Collins for noting that their decision to add a sign based on someone’s ownership statement may have been hasty; it’s always welcomed when someone owns their actions.

There is a lot at stake here so we will follow this closely.

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Todd Corayer is a lifelong fisherman and occasional hunter whose writing relies on poor penmanship, sarcasm and other people’s honest fish stories while seeing words as puzzle pieces that occasionally all fit together perfectly.

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