Slowly I turned,
to watch the spinning rod handle as microns of cork were sanded off a fly rod under construction. The project began a few weeks ago, a 9’ 9 weight St. Croix IV and has been turning on Steve Babcock’s Super Swamper homemade lathe. The SC IV is a beautiful, unfortunately discontinued blank now benefiting from a unique cork handle which fits my hand perfectly in a Full Wells style and should provide real backbone when fighting one of those big stripers on the fly like I have never caught.
The rod deserves a minimalist feel, so we went with all black Reflex guides and black anodized aluminum seat to compliment the dark green blank. Those pieces were purchased from The Bears Den Fly Fishing Company in Taunton, where owner Scott Webber was helpful, even excited to see a striper rod being conceived just before the arrival of sea lice and yellow license plates.
Step by step,
the first river herring have swum past the rocks and over ladders as big as Niagara Falls, returning to local rivers. Bill McWha has observed them already summiting the newly installed fishway on Old Post Road in Wakefield, farther up at the bottom of the Palisades Mill and even as far as the foot of Indian Lake. Phil Edwards at RIDEM has noted this early arrival but that “every year is different”. 2015’s first documented alewives were seen on April first, this year it was February twenty-ninth.
Phil said that while the return is a good sign, the peak migration typically is in April and fortunately “the majority of the work is complete” on the Saugatucket River ladder so this is a trial and error phase for the ladder. Last year, adjustments were made at the Palisades Mill for easier migration up the steep baffle system while the ladder at Old Post Road was completely reconstructed. The new denil fish design there has a better placed entrance, areas where flowing water can pool to allow for some rest and the top, or exit, has a white board to make seeing passing fish easier.
The white board also serves as a way to count fish, which is important to RIDEM. Accurate counts enable the agency to make predictions of spawning stocks, possible future returns and the effectiveness of the design. Counts are taken in ten minute intervals, a minimum of twice per day. DEM encourages people to help with the counting and their volunteer coordinator, Jennifer Brooks will help you with a brief training on counting and taking water temperatures. She can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 401.789.0281. Taking a few minutes to count fish provides really important data, it also help connect us with a river flowing through the heart of a small town.
Inch by inch,
some members of the RI legislature seem determined to take away more of our freedoms while the big picture of our economy continues to sputter. Senators Josh Miller, Harold Metts, Paul Jabour, Donna Nesselbush and William Conley have introduced Senate Bill 2565 with the apparent intention of trying to halt under-employed armed gang bangers from cruising streets with bad intent. What it does, however, is restrict the rights of legal gun owners from transporting a shotgun or rifle in a vehicle unless we are going to a specific location.
Sven Soderberg of Peace Dale Shooting Preserve in South Kingstown thinks this kind of misguided legislation would become “an unfair burden of us” and “us” could be businesses like his or us legal gun owners. He understands government’s need to provide a safe environment, this is a man who served our country in Afghanistan, but who is “struggling to find an actual purpose for this bill”. Let’s be clear: these supposed representatives want to restrict our ability, excuse me, our right, to be in possession of a legal firearm unless we are travelling to the specific places they have pre-determined because they feel they have a problem in their town? I don’t think so. What if you shoot a five stand at Addieville East Farm or Peacedale and get stopped on the way home? Worse, what if you are headed to see Sven and you get pulled over? If your gun is unloaded and stored properly, should you still be required to carry proof of your last location? What if you don’t have a receipt? “Your papers, please!”
Let’s go back a step: when I took up a pen to write this outdoors column, there was a clear and purposeful limit on the word “I”. To those Senators, hear this: I will not give up my legal right to own a gun and I will not allow our government, you who volunteered to represent us with some expected modicum of common sense, to take away my right to do something as legal as transporting a legal firearm. You got your toll booths, which we know will be littered with cameras for the next round of scrutiny and fees, you have raised every imaginable tax and now you want more.
We the fishermen and hunters of Rhode Island, who support open space with our tax dollars, who have spent hundreds of hours fighting to support brook trout habitat, who have helped pay for and preserve long stretches of cornfields & shoreline for hunting, only to be berated by seasonal new money landowners who tear down our blinds when we’re at work, who purchase tens of thousands of fishing and hunting licenses, providing revenue our State so desperately needs and then leans on when they want to speak for the best interest of that paying public, should not give one inch to the stupidity of persons telling us where we can transport a legal firearm. As Sven wisely asked, do we have the right to bear arms “only when they say it is ok?” You can read more about this bill at https://legiscan.com/RI/text/S2565/id/1351616 and for the sake of businesses and common sense, please reach out to your senator.
That said, a herring’s return, an osprey’s high pitch, a sleepy daylight savings time Sunday, kayaks in the back of trucks instead of sanders…all these are signs of the one word which triggers such a release of our emotions and actions: Spring.
This piece originally appeared in the Southern RI Newspapers. © 2017 Todd Corayer