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Shoreline Access Advocates Finally Have A Line In The Sand

To celebrate a new place to cast, walk, gather seaweed, or actually, just to go to the beach, the RI Legislature has passed a shoreline access bill into law. Finally, a line in the sand. Governor Dan McKee signed An Act Relating To Waters and Navigation, Coastal Resources Management Council to better define our beach rights. It’s been a very long and winding path to this law. The legislative findings states, “The general assembly finds that the lack of a workable, readily identifiable right of access to the shore by the public has led to confusion, conflict and disputes between those attempting to exercise their rights and privileges to the shoreline and the rights of landowners whose property abuts the shore.  The general assembly recognizes and declares the public’s rights and privileges of the shore of this, the ocean state, are not only guaranteed in the State Constitution but have enjoyed a long use throughout history to our founding documents, including the 1663 Rhode Island Charter from King Charles II. The general assembly further acknowledges the use and enjoyment of the shore by Native Americans for thousands of years prior to that.” How about it.

The new law, from House Bill H5174A and Senate Bill S0417A allows us to walk along the shoreline ten feet above the wrack line. That wrack line is the common pile of seaweed, branches, squid casings, twine, line and lost lures abandoned after a tide recedes. In the absence of a wrack line, the measurement is ten feet from the wet sand line.

Representative Terri Cortvriend (D) of District 72 and Senator Mark McKenney (D) of District 30 were the primary sponsors. Rep. Cortvriend said,  “Public shoreline rights have long been cherished by Rhode Islanders, which is why they were guaranteed in our state constitution in the first place. But it’s impossible to protect that right when no one can tell where the public shoreline ends. The lack of a clear definition has caused problems in our state for decades. Our commission put a great deal of care into exploring this issue, working with experts, advocates and property owners to develop a reasonable definition of the public shoreline’s edge that will protect Rhode Islander’s constitutional right without taking private property. I believe this legislation is a very fair way to finally settle this question, which really should be clear in a place known as the Ocean State, where beaches and shores are so critical to our identity and economy.”

Protecting access to the shoreline has been a struggle

There will be places where access is not possible and this historic legislation does not allow of the public’s use of private objects, like other folk’s cabanas and towels but does help solidify the idea that we have a right to walk, fish, swim, skip stones, gather seaweed or untangle a faded Rapala snagged in a bleached gill net. A tip of the camo hat to all those who discussed, negotiated, argued and drew that line in the sand to protect an important right here in The Ocean State.

Now with some access secured for casting, Daiwa has introduced a new twitchbait to mimic a tired, injured, occasionally lethargic fish, the Lazy FA Shad. Its special action begins with a slight fin on the head, dead centered. According to Noel Vick of Traditions Media, “On the retrieve, the unique forward facing fin on the Lazy FA Shad produces a ‘slalom’ type of action, much like that of a baitfish that has been exhausted and singled out from its panicked main school.” One feature I really like is the heavy float design. When first presented, it sags in the water for few seconds before starting a slow rise. A few turns of the reel handle and it rolls over then rights itself, just like a wounded fish. We know striped bass are opportunistic feeders who prefer to hold on edges or under schools of more aggressive fish to reap the benefits of missed meals.  Here, the Lazy FA Shad really shines as it holds just long enough between movements to be easy prey.

Daiwa Lazy FA Shad

Daiwa calls the action “slalom”, which I understand based on its up and down movements. It’s a floating lure but will dive to three feet with enough of a pull. I can see the Lazy FA Shad being a star off the Pt. Judith Lighthouse, in the wash along Beavertail or in a salt pond channel. When a bass or bluefish keys in on one shad looking weak and not staying tight to the school, Nature takes over and they will move in quickly. The Lazy FA Shad is available in six color patterns. Three mimic bait fish, like the Holo Sardine, Skeleton Mullet and Konoshiro, which translates to Dotted gizzard shad, and three are high visibility patterns. Those include Pink Clear Holo, Skeleton Red Head Skeleton Chart Back. They are three and a half inches long, have two #3 high strength treble hooks, retail for $16.99 and are available now. I can see them catching lots of fish off the beach on a perfect night where bass don’t need a wrack line to know where the action is.


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