Fishing in Public

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

Registration Blues

Hey fishing aficionados. How’s life? Mine’s happy ’cause what happened is this: my ambassador, Randy, told me he’d seen fish on May 31. “Yeah right, Randy,” I said, “and the moon’s made of green cheese.” Well, lo and behold, the fucker’s right! I have never, ever seen the fish this early. It’s really rockin’ this year, dudes! The fish are flyin’, jumping out of the water to get on your hook.

I had big plans to write about me and Michelle’s first fishing expedition of the season. But things turned out differently, which is often the case. The day we was gonna go was a bad weather day. I mean, real bad. Not rain, but the humidity was 94 percent and felt like 160 percent. I did a trial run with my pal Tyler and we was ready to head back after a very short time — which kind of left me in Dutch with a very disappointed Michelle, who I think may be pissed off at me although she’s much too gracious to come out and say it.

So, getting back to things, there’s info I must share. It’s about this registration thing, and it’s a fucking doozey.

There was a column last month in the Maine Sunday Telegram by Bruce Joule that was supposed to clear up the confusion, but all it did was make me even more confused. One thing is for sure, though: no one pays this year. You can take that to the bank. But — with a capital B — you must register.

I called the number to register just to check it out and came away from that phone call mumbling to myself, even more confused. But I am signed up! They give you your own number and everything! The woman told me that if you don’t register you stand the chance of being arrested! Who cuffs you is somewhat murky, as is the exact punishment or fine.

Also a little cloudy is the disability exemption — you don’t have to register if you’re disabled. What actually defines disability? There are other exemptions. I’ll not go into details, but just mention commercial fishermen, rental shacks, disabled vets, people under 16 and over 70, fishing charters, and certain Indians need not pay attention to any of this crazy gibberish.

When you call this number, they ask you a bunch of questions, including your mailing address and the phone you can be reached at. And then in 30 days they mail you a card and it’s official. In the interim you can show the number they gave you to whatever law enforcement folks accost you. Who? Like I say, they don’t seem to know. Is there like a force of federal lawmen, like coastal wardens or something, that goes around checking on who’s licensed? I never heard of such a thing. Maybe they could call ’em The A Team, as in the Atlantic Ocean. Goodness knows they love those quaint little nicknames and their even cuter acronyms. Or how about The C Squad, as in Casco Bay? Good stuff, hey?

You must have noticed by now that I’ve yet to talk about the fees. That’s because 1.) it’s another bit of murkiness, and 2.) we don’t have to pay this year. You may wish to join my protest next year and not pay a thing. After all, the big thing they’re gonna do with the money they collect is pay for enforcement.  Talk about a Catch 22! They’re gonna make us pay money to make sure we pay money! I guess that’s one way to put some people to work, but it sure sounds some fucking silly to me.

And their other thing is they’d like to know about our fishing habits, i.e. what we catch, how much, etc., etc. Why can’t they just come down the pier and ask us? We could avoid this whole fucking mess! And now I’ve had to waste another one of my wonderful columns on this business. Makes me puke. Another way for Uncle Sam to dick us for more money. It’s outright blackmail. (Well, I guess technically, extortion.)

I’d also like to comment on one other thing. Could you please be more respectful of the water? While five or six young lads were on the trestle fishing away, I had to spend the afternoon picking up their rubbish. Now, most folks are considerate about litter and such. Some aren’t. You know who you are. Not only does plastic bags, beer bottles, etc., foul the ocean and ruin the scenery, but that kind of muck has a way of trapping fish and crustacean eggs.

And one other thought. Although I didn’t notice any fatalities this past month, it don’t mean don’t be careful.

Should you decide to go and murder some fish, do it now. For some reason, this is a very powerful year for fishies. Oh, and the number to register: 888-674-7411.