Spring’s calendar is in full bloom. Regardless of where we are, talk is all about those first, welcomed migrating striped bass, largemouth on buzz baits, young of year trout, annual celebrations and new tournament seasons. Spring banquets and tournaments are sure signs of a new season on the water and watching score cards but first come the banquets.
The Narragansett Surfcasters’ annual banquet was a rousing success at North Kingstown’s Carriage Inn. Members and guests were treated to a fine buffet as President Bruce Bain worked a full room, telephone tagging stories of early stripers on local beaches.
Eric Stoumpos, aka Mr. Poseidon, stood with his wife Romina, Vinny DiCioccio and Robert Vallee to receive honorary Surfcasters memberships. That’s no small feat, considering one of only two prior honorees was Steve Medeiros, who many feel forever indebted to because of his lifetime of advocacy for recreational fishing.
Surfcaster Charlie Lepre won the 2022 Yearlong Tournament for landing a 46.5” striped bass, then Luke Znosko earned his trophy with a14 pound, 32” bluefish. The always generous Joe Coppola and Rich Heffernan kept everything running smoothly through the raffles, including handing member Glenn Costa a beautiful Crafty One Customs OCEN rod.
Congratulations to all the winners and to all the Surfcasters for another year of philanthropy and community service.
Spring also means trout in cold water
The RI Chapter of Trout Unlimited hosted their annual Saturday banquet for more than one hundred people at the Quonset O Club. After cocktails and perusing raffle and silent auction tables, President Glenn Place awarded long-time TU member Ron Marafioti with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Ron brought a military-inspired “process and procedure” style to the club and has remained a stalwart presence for many years. Cheers to Ron for his dedication. The Lawson Carey Jr. Conservation Award was also awarded to a member who seemed quite unprepared.
For generations, the Carey family has remained dedicated to protecting cold water fisheries supported with real walk the walk donations and gifts. To receive that award, etched with their family name, is a true honor. Keynote speaker Simon Gawesworth travelled from the left coast to talk trout and RIO trout lines, then, to his great credit, stood in the rain. For a long time.
It’s a new Spring on the water
On Sunday, northeast winds at 17-22, heavy cloud cover, impending rain with woodstove smoke smudging Indian Lake made for a chilly start the 2023 Ocean State Kayak Bassin’ tournament season. They are a tough and dedicated bunch of largemouth bass anglers. 16 kayaks launched at the nicely maintained State boat launch at the end of Indian Trail South. New member Steve O’Brien trailered his impressive ‘yak from Massachusetts, redefining the Yak Gadget brand with better electronics than most living rooms and an equally comfortable chair. Impressed by his dueling Lowrance screens and impressive Sniper Marine Live Scope camera system to see bass before they feel his hook, I offered to hold Steve’s ‘yak against the new dock while he parked. “Thank you,” he said, “I’ll just turn on the Spot Lock and let her sit ‘til I get back.” Courteous and tech-savvy. It’s a new world on the water.
Greg Krasnowiecki, OSKB’s Administrator, said, “Joe Brancato led all day, Chris Catucci closed the gap to 1″ with an hour left.” For those readers new to or unfamiliar with competitive largemouth bass fishing, there generally is more emphasis on “fishing” than “competitive” but when you splash a boat in cold Spring waters in the teeth of east winds with few prospects other than hanging on and hoping your homework pays off along a submerged stone wall or steep drop, these anglers fish to win. Certainly there are parking lot handshakes and always cheers for winners, but points are on the line.
When everyone had wrung out their bibs and helped load each other’s boats into pickups and onto SUV roofs, Joe Brancato earned first place with 48.5” from three fish. Chris Catucci earned second with three fish measuring just a half inch shy of first place while Justin Lacasse earned a third place finish just a ¼” shy of Chris’ landing. Given the lousy forecast, the membership wanted to fish regardless, so from this desk, cheers to all those who stuck to it. Well done, now it’s on to Tiverton’s Stafford Pond on May 15.
A few hours later, Simon and Captain Dave Steeves of Far Bank Fishing, offered casting instruction, some dry British humor, a quick lesson in how not to make the V sign with fingers in the wrong company and then, in a drenching rain, how to cast through some fun competition in their Fly Casting Olympics. President Place, with his team, have invigorated a strong conservation group into a dynamo of ever-expanding opportunities to remove dams, improve waters and introduce more people to the simple joy of casting from any bank. A tip of the camo hat to those two for braving some rough New England Spring weather.
The next night, Lunch Break Eddy Stahowiak packed a RISAA monthly meeting with a fine talk about how we can all improve our photo skills. True to form, Eddy passed on showcasing weaknesses to focus on how we can all do better. Over grilled steak and cheese and old school burgers, members appreciated his signature beautiful photos as he explained what’s makes for a good and bad shot, how to frame, how to cheat a few rules and really, how to capture those moments of love we feel on the water. Save your pictures and fill your logbooks with details; all that information is incredibly valuable when RISAA members advocate for sensible local and federal fisheries regulations. Photos deliver a strong message because nothing impresses a dry land senator more than a pretty shot of a striper or tuna that we want to protect.