Maybe you’ve painted yourself into a corner, promising your nephews a shot at a fish thrice their combined weight. Maybe after a couple of months of hard scratching inshore, you need a change of venue. Maybe it’s something more universal: the pull of the seaward horizon, a primal need to clear the inlet and instead of hooking right or left you just keep going straight — 50, 100, 300 miles past the last road sign.
“That guy’s not looking so good,” Ray says, motioning to a figure hunched over on the starboard side. Seasickness is a reality when you fish for striped bass at night, in large part because the places that have the most and biggest bass also have strong currents and pronounced bottom features. Put the latter two together, and there’s potential for sporty sea conditions.
In the immediate situation, a tide change half an hour ago has pitted a strong breeze out of the south against a south-running ebb tide at Block Island’s southwest corner.
Appropriately enough, it is often the sharpest fishermen in a given area, the ones with the most refined sense of the grounds and fish and the all-important issues of timing, who tend to be its most committed — and most effective — stewards.
We Americans have what we see as a long set of traditions — cultural, ecological and, of course, economic — with codfish. It was the codfish, after all, that drew European colonists to North America, and codfish that bankrolled the first waves of New World settlers, from Massachusetts to Newfoundland. A codfish, then, is seldom just a codfish.
Among the many reasons I take up the rod and reel, foremost could be the satisfaction of feeding myself, my family and friends the world-class protein I’ve harvested from the wild with my own hands. From my earliest fishing experiences, my dad always stressed the gratification — maybe it was something nearer to a spiritual rite — of eating what we’d caught.
I liked the idea, but I didn’t always relish the experience of trying to pry bits of the baked tautog or flounder off the comb bones with the tines of my fork.
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Tim Coleman died May 3, in Weekapaug, R.I., doing what he loved to do best at that time of year: scouting the salt ponds and outer beaches for spring striped bass. He was an exceptional saltwater angler and a prolific writer. Thousands of readers lost an advocate and authentic storyteller for fishing in the Northeast, and anyone fortunate to have known Tim lost a good friend.