The New Year has arrived, and that brings with it time for us to reflect on the season that was and the season to come. Hopefully, each of us had some success on the water last season. Most every season, time on the water comes with a few moments that will be burned into our memories, able to be easily recalled throughout the remainder of our lives. Other memories may get blurred with the passage of time but continue to generate a smile or warm feeling when we reflect on our season as a whole.
For me, 2021 brought many of those permanent memories. Of those, none was more enjoyable than landing a near state record fluke, with two of my lifelong fishing partners at my side; and none sadder than that September morning when I got a call from Rich Hittinger informing me we had lost Steve Medeiros.
Mixed in between the highs and lows was an August seabass trip with one of my sons and my dad who, at 84, gives me hope I can fish as long and as well as he can. Such trips are increasingly to be cherished because, as we know, time moves on. Watching my son Shawn work a 10 weight fly rod along a surf break, or seeing my grandson battle a scup from his grandfather’s boat–these are the moments that I increasingly find more important than how big a striper I can catch. Listening to that same grandson proudly explain to his great grandfather that, “when the bobber goes down, it means you have a fish!” is just one of the many things that makes our multigenerational sport so special in my eyes. No one is relegated to cheering from the sidelines. All of us get to participate. Even my little Italian Nana who never set foot on a boat fishing could sure make a good fish soup from whatever fish we managed to bring home when I was a boy.
Now, when I allow my mind to wander towards the 2022 season, I am filled with hope, both for the fishing to come and for our Club. RISAA’s membership remains healthy and shows signs of the kind of growth we need to remain as the voice of all Rhode Island and Northeast anglers. RISAA continues to be recognized by State and Federal officials when considering fishing regulations as well as shoreline access, a subject that Steve and the RISAA Board of Directors has increasingly focused on as of late.
While the fishery forecast isn’t all rosy, we still have much to look forward to. Our Tautog fishery is really second to none, and RISAA aims to keep it that way. Scup fishing remains a highly reliable way to fill a cooler either from shore or boat, and our local Striped Bass population seems to be in better shape than in many mid-Atlantic and northeast states, although few will deny that the numbers coastwide are down and there is not a lot of encouraging data regarding our most treasured fish. Fluke stocks, while clearly in trouble, may benefit from new management approaches and the Rhode Island Black Sea Bass season might finally be adjusted to allow more anglers to participate in the fishery earlier in the spring if RISAA, with membership support and involvement, can be persuasive on this issue.
Will the tuna return? When will the albies show? What great new lure will we buy at RISAA’s Saltwater Fishing Show in March? Will we land our best fish yet in 2022? These questions remain unanswered, but one thing I know moving forward is that it remains a true privilege to represent this organization, and together we can continue to celebrate what a wonderful sport we have chosen to engage in.
Catch em up