Charlie Lepre’s Last Run To First Rock

by | Jul 18, 2023 | 2023 Fishing Season, Rhode Island Fishermen, Striped Bass Fishing

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Charlie Lepre’s Last Run To First Rock

Not all of us are built to work the day then fish the night and love both. Not all of us are built to be surfcasters, slinging eels at 2am in a wind, balancing in knee-bucking surf. Charlie Lepre was. In July, some of us find our balance wading pocket waters where Hexagenia mayflies hatch and trout circle in waters swift or slow. They are mayflies in the family Ephemeridae, from the Greek word ephemera, referencing a short life with wings. Some things we love the most, like warm beach nights and streams cloudy with mayflies, are fleeting, especially in reflection. A short life with wings. Sadly, Charlie Lepre has made his last run to First Rock.

Charlie and Bruce Bain

“It happened so fast,” said Bruce Bain, President of the Narragansett Surfcasters fishing club and close friend. Charlie was a surfcaster, family man, father to Ella and Ben, commercial fisherman, member of the Narragansett Surfcasters. He was devoted to his family and passionate about all things fishing. By June 1, 2022, Bruce and Charlie had already fished 27 times together. This year, they fished twice. Bruce said, “We went to Montauk fishing in October; he couldn’t come because Ben had real important games that weekend. He didn’t want to miss the games.” Charlie passed in June.

A fisherman’s fisherman, no matter the hour

“It’s kind a hard for me to talk, he was like my son. I took him under my wing, showed him how to catch stripers at an early age,” Nelson Valles, a founder of the Narragansett Surfcasters said. “I met Charlie at URI’s Bay Campus when Charlie’s father said, ‘I don’t know how to fish. Can you show my son how to catch the fish?’ That’s how it started.” Such a leap of faith, to ask another to teach your own child. “Teach your children well…Feed them on your dreams, The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by,” sang Crosby, Stills and Nash. Little do we know, sometimes, how fish and the chase for them, change lives.

Time and Tide For Charlie Lepre

“He and his son Ben were very close. Charlie was really, really proud of him, he really pushed him hard to keep his grades up,” Bruce said. “He would take him out fishing, but the family stuff came before anything with him.” When Charlie was twenty-one, his father passed. “His father had a heart attack,” Nelson said, “and I spent time with him weekends at the Bay Campus, took him from the mouth of the river to the lighthouse, showed him all the fishing holes. He became a great fisherman.” For a young man, everything going forward, including a few men who stepped up to help, like Nelson and Mike Dunfee, who showed Charlie how to make plugs out of broom handles, would help define his adult life, which smoothly became a life on the water.

Charlie was a fisherman’s fisherman. He worked lobster boats, net boats, scallop boats and charter boats. He would fish through all night hours with Bruce before steaming out of Galilee on the Reel To Reel to fish around Block Island with sports. “Then he’d hit the surf for an hour or two on the way home from work. He was just a maniac,” Bruce said with a chuckle.

“We could throw the exact same plug, he would out fish me,” Bruce said, his voice revealing a sweet tinge of jealousy with respect. “I’d catch two, he’d catch seven.” There are some among us, like ghosts, with talents more special than ours, who make impressions on our lives which we may not understand fully until they leave us, like ghosts.

Charlie was a true part of our working waterfront

“Charlie had a forty-one inch fish the first week of May because he knew,” Bruce said. “He had a connection to the ocean. He threw big stuff. Big Danny’s, big gliders. RM Smiths, those were his favorite lures. He’d be in shorts, or jeans and a t-shirt and those bright blue Nike sneakers, at First Rock. No spikes, like a friggin’ billy goat. Running down the rocks at night. Most of the time he would wait for me but if he knew there were fish, forget about it, he would leave me in the dust. I’d catch up to him ten minutes later and he’d already have three fish caught.”

Charlie’s passing offers an opportunity to reconsider our own ages, priorities, memories, words and actions. All those are fleeting under the pressure of time. Time and tide. Mayflies begin their lives in river bottoms, where many find their balance. They emerge, grow, float and fly away. They leave us on their own schedule without regard for ours. Charlie was in sync with times and tides and I wish he had more of both. “He knows where the fish are in the spring and in the fall,” Nelson said. “I taught him the wind, the tide, where to fish for the stripers. He knows the bigger fish. I’m really going to miss him. My heart is broken.”

“I’m waiting for my phone to ring,” Bruce said, “For him to say, ‘Hey, want to meet tonight at 2:00?’ He taught me a lot. We got really close, like brothers. In those friggin’ blue sneakers.”

A short life with wings. Charlie Lepre. 2/3/79-6/29/2023.

Fishing, for work and pleasure

A memorial service will be held at 6:00pm on July 23, 2023 at Camp Cronin in Narragansett. Bring a surf rod and a plug in Charlie’s honor. 


  1. Dina Lindia

    I love this! Minor correction, his Dad passed when he was 21. The first 2 years of our dating relationship, we fished as much as we could, he tried instilling 31 years of knowledge into my brain in every tide we caught. I miss him so much I can’t even describe the emptiness I feel. He has made some amazing friends along the way and they are doing their best to keep his spirit alive. I would trade all of it for another lifetime with him. Thank you for this beautiful write up!

    • Todd Corayer

      My Lord, I am so sorry for your loss. He was a character and there must some solace in knowing that so many people thought so much of him. He will be sorely missed.


    What a wonderful tribute! Charlie was a great guy for sure and he is missed.

  3. Siobhan Nesmith

    I love this post! Great Job Bruce! Charlie was definitely THE most fishy dude I knew. All that knowledge died with him. He was secretive like that. And that’s h ok will stay! He earned that right to be secretive. I Don’t think he would have told his own Mother his fishing spots!😄 As for anything else he was always so proud to share his knowledge of things. He liked to show off. In a good way. Him and My Brother and I shared some really cool experiences together. Some I cant mention for fear of Incriminating! 😄 Others like Snowboarding ( Which He was an absolute BEAST with that!) Skateboarding and Motocross, Hunting,Plug Making. He was proficient in all of these. When Charlie was interested in something He went ALL IN! Where I come from that’s a solid quality. The Outdoors was where He thrived. Once again. Do many stories that forgot more than I remember. And I remember A LOT! We called ourselves THE TRI FORCE on The Docks in Point Judith. I know it sounds funny. That’s why we chose that name. We had each others backs ALWAYS! I’ll miss Him. Like many others will. But I’ll always remember The Good Times. I wish Peace to His Family. This was a Life taken to early. He still had so much more to do. This is his Legacy in My Words. His Family. His Fishing. And His Drive. ALL IN. ALWAYS. Thanks for Posting this Bruce. It made Me Smile. Sincerely Jay Nesmith.

    • Todd Corayer

      Indeed, a life taken far too soon. So many people on boats and docks will miss Charlie.

  4. Bruce bain

    As I read this once again smiling and crying at the same time I realize how lucky I am to have my short time with him and also to have met a caring and truly talented friend like you Todd
    Thank you, Bruce

    • Todd Corayer

      I’m honored to share part of his story Bruce. I wish I had been fortunate enough to fish with him. Such a loss indeed but at least you have such good memories with Charlie.


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