Fishing in Public

by "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley
by "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley


Before  I even start, let me say one thing, OK? All the folks are like, When we goin’ fishin’? A lot of enthusiasm — maybe a bit too much — and a real lot of anticipation. (Like Carly Simon, hey?) Well, I’m even a little guilty of that myself. In my last column, I kind of got carried away.

See, warm days for us does not necessarily mean an early season for stripers. Sorry, folks, but in reality it takes a long, long time of warmth for the ocean to heat up enough for the fish to come up and visit. I got a reality check the other day. My good scout Jim informed me the ocean temp was 48 degrees. We really need it to be much warmer, so it’s like this — the third week of June, possibly. I don’t see any huge climactic cataclysms on the horizon, so that date’s probably about right.

While we wait, check your gear. Like I’ve told you, line should be changed yearly. It really sucks holding a broken line.

And here’s another thing you need to check: your companions. Who you venture out with on your fishing expeditions can make or break the whole thing.

I’ve ended up spending my day with a very lame duck before. It’s bound to happen. Christ, I been down that friggin’ wharf, what, 52 years? (Hard to believe, ain’t it?) But I’ve been lucky. Not to brag too much, but these days I’ve got a fishing partner, Michelle, to put others to shame. The fact she also helps me put something on paper that’s worth reading is like gravy on the potatoes.

If you’re gonna be sitting around waiting for a bite — and some days you could be sitting for quite a while — with nothing to check out but watching the waves lap and the sun crossing the sky, I tell ya, things can get real slow. So who do you want to be spending time with, a big slug with no IQ at all or someone who can carry on at least a half-decent conversation about, say, world peace maybe, or sea pollution?

That oil spill in the Gulf is pretty bad, huh? What a piece of work. Once upon a time, I was a crook (believe it or not), and during one of my many durations at the CCJ, I got hired on some kind of work-release program as emergency help to clean up an oil spill in the harbor. What a mess! This tanker went aground, I guess.

So like I say, for me, my best fishin’ friend is definitely Michelle. Quite well traveled, also. That’s always a big plus in dockside conversing. If you’re stuck on the pier and the fish aren’t doing a thing, a well-traveled thinking person will be worth their weight in gold.

I remember once getting stuck with some son’bitch who thought the fish was kind of after him. I tried to explain that the fish couldn’t actually see him, but have you ever thrown a brick into a big tank of concrete? You get the meaning, right?

I should probably sign off right now and that’d be ’nuff said. However, there’s one last thing we must discuss and it’s this darn saltwater fishing fee. There’s nothing really in place yet, but next year we’re to pay $15 a year to fish. If we pay it.

I don’t wish to pay it.

It’s not the money. If I really thought the money was to go straight to helping the fish industry, or any kind of geopolitical action to fix things up, well hell, I’d be all for it. Fuck, I’d give thirty dollars. But I think our money will go to some bureaucrats to spend playing golf someplace.

So here’s my idea about this: let’s not pay. I mean, no one pay. Hey, you up for it? If need be, I’ll be like Mahatma Gandhi and be there at the start, like he did the salt thing. We’ll take and grab our rods and reels and march down the pier in quiet (but not aggressive) protest!

I’ve many reasons to be mad at the state of Maine and Gov. Baldacci, but this ain’t the time. The U.S government did this and basically forced us into it. So where were our reps on this one? I mean, stuff that really affects us. Couldn’t they do somethin’ about this business?

I dare say they can’t, so we will. Are you with me, folks? Nobody pay this rotten fee. We’ll show them bastards.

OK, that’s enough. Like I say, it won’t be ’til next year anyways. But do think about it, OK? And if you happen to see Billy and Michelle heading down the pier, join ’em! You’ll have the time of your life, I guarantee.