Rosie and Dominic Teach, Catch and Celebrate
Well, that’s that. Spring has sprung. Days of rain washed our grass seed away, making room for dandelions and many of us are realizing just how far we let our yards go to pot over the winter. The real test will be in a few months, to see if they still look rough because the fishing was just so good. However, based on so many reports, there are new fish scales on tailgates, covers are off rusty grills and this week, we are renewing some old friendships made on the water.
A few years back, I met Dominic Gravelin and his dad Eric, in some smooth Warwick seawater where Dom’s smile was lighting up The Bay. He was into a fish, a big fish and his Dad could barely paddle his kayak for all the energy he put into his own smile. Dom landed a bluefish beast from his kayak with the poise and ease. That was pure fishing magic, I was totally impressed and we have stayed in touch. This week, as stripers have hit loads of beaches, the father/son team walked through the rain to clean up on stripers.
Rosie and Dominic have a way of reminding us all about fun
“It was a blast,” Eric said. “Right after slack to incoming. Dom was so excited. Found a school of mixed large and schoolies. We were the only ones out here just fish after fish.” Perseverance, a love for fishing and some welcomed, old school family time. “We doubled up a few times, we went home soaked and smiling with proud thumbs, lol!” I can only hope this new season is full of reports just like theirs and lots of sore thumbs.
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Janice said as my new friend Rosie, of Rosie’s Bait and Tackle, walked into Charlestown’s Kettle Pond Visitor Center to teach people how to tie flies with the United Fly Tiers of Rhode Island. “We talked all about you today,” she said. At just eight years old, Rosie was loaded with Cactus chenille, small blowtorch, UV light and her dad, Hugh. Fly tying heavyweights, like Joe Coppola, Joe Kearns, Jeff Perry and Greg Houde gathered around to teach, as Rosie did, for a packed room guided by Captain Ray Stachelek and Bob Pollock. For 14 years, those two expert fly anglers, working with RIDEM and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, have taught countless people how to tie, fish and love both.
Rosie and Dominic Lead Us All
“Here, let me show you,” Rosie said to novice Portsmouth tier Carl Haynes, helping him start a second pattern in red and pink foam. Rosie confidently guided a table of anglers decades older than her through the fine twists, loops and tail ruffles of cinder worms created on 1/0 Mustad tarpon hooks. Just before trimming off a fluffy worm tail for Peter Rowley, Rosie deftly helped others use the whip finisher too.
Age is no issue when it comes to tying and casting
“When I was younger,” she said through a giggle, “I used to call it a whippie.” One can only imagine how old she was when Rosie began to master tying flies. This was first of a popular three night session culminating with a few hours on Ninigret Pond casting for stripers gulping cinder worms. Those worms are a fickle lot but steady is the fine UFTRI tutelage. Their collective mission is to be “Dedicated to teaching and learning about fresh and saltwater flies: how to tie them, their history and their uses near and far.” Based on a floor freckled with red chenille and anglers with handfuls of new flies, the first night was a complete success.
Take a beach break from all that twisting and whip finishing to read up on Nathan Cornell’s petition to preserve old growth forests. Our younger readers may not know what a three hundred year old tree looks like, how it feels to walk amongst a wide stand of oaks, maples, walnuts, chestnuts or ash, or understand the diverse ecosystems they support above and beneath us, which is precisely why Nathan is supporting House Bill H5344, the “Old Growth Forest Protection Act.” This bill is supported by the Buckeye Brook Coalition In a recent email, they wrote, “The Board of Directors of the BBC are strongly supporting passage of House Bill H5344…The proposed act is currently before the RI General Assembly’s House Environment and Natural Resources Committee for review. The protection act would legislate steps and methods to protect Rhode Island’s unique Old Growth Forests, Natural Heritage Areas, and reinstate the Rhode Island Natural Heritage Program.” From this desk, there are few more significant endorsements than one from the Buckeye Brook Coalition. Nathan has a petition on Change.org entitled, “Protect Rhode Island’s Natural Areas and Old Growth Forests From Being Destroyed.” After a good day on the water, what’s more cool than a walk in the woods? And FYI, if you’re on Wildlife Management Area and undeveloped State parks, please remember to wear at least 200 square inches of orange until May 31.