Fishing in Public

by "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley

My new spot

Hey folks! Hope everyone is doing well. I feel before I get rolling here I must remark on some of the wacky shit that’s been going on of late. Heavens to Betsy, an earthquake? Of all things. I must say, I didn’t feel a thing myself, did you? But then again, I lived in Frisco a couple of years without noticing any tremors, and there were quite a few.

My question is this: do the fish know an earthquake is coming? ’Cause it’s been really dead fishing lately. I mean graveyard dead, as dead as I’ve ever remembered, and that’s going back awhile. The Japs have done a lot of experimentation where animals seem to know a quake’s on the way. But fish? I don’t know about that. If I had to guess, I’d say no.

I do have another theory, though, and it is a weather thing. I think it’s more than coincidence that we’re coming off the hottest July in history and sliding right into flat fishing season. I think the water is just too warm for mackerel. It hasn’t bothered the stripers though. One pal of mine got five in the past two weeks — all keepers.

But macks — whole different story. There was about 30 of us at the Maine State Pier for I reckon about two hours. I counted: one mack. One for all 30 of us. I’m sure I would’ve got more if them people didn’t start feeding the seals in my favorite spot, but they did, and now the seals won’t leave.

I do think conditions will improve. Once the weather cools I think the macks’ll be back like they should be. That’s if we make it through the earthquakes, and now as I write this it looks like a goddamn hurricane, too.

The lack of fish has given me a lot of time to ponder, and I’m always passing the public art they got on Fore Street — “Tracing the Fore.” Someone just bought it for $100 — a hundred bucks for something professional junkers call “extrusion aluminum.” Before all this hoo-ra-ra, I was going to yank it out of the ground myself. Good thing I didn’t, huh? They’d probably have had no problem whatsoever tracking that to the ol’ junkyard and into the slammer I’d be. And it’d have been really ridiculous when I could’ve had the whole thing for a hundred-and-one-dollar bid. Now the guy that got it says he can’t move it ’til October. Christ, give me a hammer and a grocery cart, I’d have it gone in about two hours.

So my pal (and editor) kind of put the bug in my ear about checking out this Ocean Gateway. I said, What the heck? Why not check it out? I’ve lost my favorite spot due to seals. When there’s fish the Pier can get too crowded, and sometimes getting to the trestle is just too much of an expedition.

Boy, I’m glad I did check it out. Although my first trip down was not good, it wasn’t the wharf’s fault. No, I just happened to bump into some kind of domestic dispute. Two French Canadian girls (Canucks, I guess). Well, they was screaming away and I just was trying to get away. They should have had signs plastered on their backs: “Arrest us!” Yep, I knew the cops were riding up any second, so I snapped my line, lost a brand new jigger trying to get the fuck out of Dodge quickly as I could.

Sure enough, the cops did roll up, but like I say, it was no reflection on this fishing spot.

The wharf at Ocean Gateway I absolutely love. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the only pier in this city where you could actually bring your kids for a picnic while you fish away the day. And that’s how I eased into this subject. How can this goddamned town blow what — a hundred thousand and change — on some aluminum in Boothby Square, yet manage to make a beauty like Ocean Gateway’s pier?

Now, it is still under construction, but what they done so far is great. When I first got there I went inside, as they actually have a visitor welcome center. Neato. And I yakked it up with the hostess. Her name is Jennifer and she’s as sweet as sweet can be. Just a lovely down-home personality. Whoever hired her to welcome folks really knew how to hire people.

And about the picnic part — they got like a big lawn with plenty of space to frig around in. Now, like I say, the fishing’s been so bad of late I can’t tell how this spot’s going to measure as far as that goes. But I get a feeling that once the fishing thing gets ironed out, Ocean Gateway will fall into line.

Yep, it’s like a nice place to visit even if you’re not fishing. I’ve done found my spot.