Cod, fluke, Lawrence & Jerry Garcia makes for one very big week of Fish Wrap.
Cod fishing is on pause, fluke fishing was charitable and Lawrence Thompson is king of inshore waters, still.
Recreational fishing for codfish Gadus morhua, is closed now in the Southern New England Groundfish Management Area and will resume on August first, which just happens to be the 80th birthday of Jerry Garcia. Just saying. It’s always good to keep life in perspective. And maybe dance around the kitchen for a song or two. Anyways, NOAA decided to close the fishery on July 15, then resume with a new bag and slot limit. Before anyone gets their tie-dye’s in a twist because this puts the squeeze on stuffing freezers with winter fillets, this fishery, this absolute staple of indigenous peoples and the rest of us recent immigrants, has hinged on codfish. With Pilgrim Protestant persistence and federal dollars supporting new technologies, we wiped ‘em clean. Think post-war sonar. After salting and sailing ships laden with baccalà for Europe, we baked, stuffed and chipped our way to their unceremonious demise. And of course, we wrote cook books in their honor as old white guys hoisted a replica on city hall then set back and toasted with a few Hanky Panky’s. Now stocks are at embarrassing lows. There is a reason Native American’s took only what they needed, which was not an ambiguous statement.
Read Mark Kurlansky’s “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World” sometime when you have a few free hours and an open mind to the force of man on our natural world. It’s what we do so often: we take until it seems like perhaps next year is going to hurt, then we offer some too late regulatory tobacco offering, but it’s to no avail because it can take five or six years for a female cod to be fertile and by then, we have already positioned her with SYSCO tartar sauce on a bland white roll.
Maybe stop eating codfish for a few years?
We can gather and dine on haddock, hake or heaven forbid, tilapia. And thank you to those sage anglers with Tilapia Is Not Seafood stickers, which is no shock since tilapia is a freshwater species. Point is, there are other species with healthy, protected stocks to cover in mayonnaise and relish. Preaching completed, cod season will reopen on Jerry’s birthday in federal waters with a five fish possession limit and a 22” to 28″ slot in federal waters.
Did you see Steve Medeiros on the cover of RIDEM’s 2022 fishing abstract? If you fish, there’s a strong chance you have Steve and his peers at the RI Saltwater Anglers Association to thank for protecting access and healthy populations of fish we love to catch, release and serve with salad. RISAA’s recent member fluke trip was hosted by Greg Vespe, RISAA’s new Executive Director and consummate gentleman, who said the trip was a tricky one, given the, “Pretty difficult conditions.” That mirrors many scenarios Steve and his board faced over many years protecting fish and fishers.
“Not much wind, not much drift,” Greg said, “But a few nice ones. Plus I created a $10 pool and announced 50% to the winner and the same to the Steve Medeiros/Black Point Foundation.” The Foundation was created to rename the popular fishing spot the Stephen J. Medeiros Memorial Fishing Park at Black Point, with new fish identification signs and a few to help people understand the area and Mr. Medeiros. They also plan to add additional parking, trail improvements and install benches near the sea.
“We had 48 attendees, a mix of anglers in their 80’s to 10 years old,” Greg said. “Everyone bought in to the pool, then the winner gave his money back.” Full stop. Russia is leveling a sovereign country, teenagers are swinging assault rifles at children, Europe is broiling, gas is four-fifty and Jack Guarnaccia with his grandson Max Namba, forgo life’s pernicious economic and social pressures to support the Foundation and hand back a roll of cash? My Lord, this really is the greatest nation. A tip of the camo hat to Mr.’s. Guarnaccia and Namba for their generosity and vision. “I call that a win,” Greg said. Amen.
Cod, fluke, Lawrence & Jerry Garcia and even more Lawrence Thompson
Over near the salt ponds, where stripers continue to feed in earnest after dark, Lawrence Thompson is schooling us from a 14’ skiff. He motored off the beach with his nephew Shawn Thompson, son of his younger brother who sadly has passed. “He’s a great kid, loves to fish!” Lawrence said. They boated some fluke but Lawrence is the king of multi-species fishing. “Caught plenty of fish, bass, blues, fluke, seabass, scup, chub mackerel and northern sea robins!” he said. Lawrence finds them all.
This past spring, on a typically dreary, drafty, chilly Sunday morning, there was a social media post from Lawrence, happily celebrating his early season catch, which I read from under a blanket on my couch. Lawrence Thompson can inspire and shame in just one photo. Akin to Fish Wrap regular Jason Anctil, fishing comes second only to family and this season, the Thompson family are a force.
Hang tight if you must target cod, donate to the Medeiros Foundation if you can and we have free Fish Wrap stickers that don’t berate tilapia. Send us an email, we’ll send you one. Happy birthday Mr. Garcia.