Fishing in Public

by “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley

On blues and babes

Hey folks. It’s that time again. I know, a little early, ain’t it? Well, blame the weather. All indicators are indicating an early season. I got a report of stripers already being caught on Cape Cod. And there are other indicators, as well. I went for an exploratory walk to the trestle the other day and I couldn’t fucking believe it. Lobster traps all over the place!

Water temperature is another good indicator, but oddly enough I can’t seem to find that out these days. No temp on the Weather Channel, in our two daily papers, the local TV news, anyplace. So what’s up with that? Maybe it’s another subtle signal of a decaying port city.

Now this time I was going to take you folks on a trip to some place called the Mill Brook, a stream that runs through Westbrook and empties in the Presumpscot River. I fished it as a young ’un but haven’t laid eyes on it in what seems like 100 years. But my pal Randy has been going lately and he claims they’re yanking them out like no tomorrow. It’s fresh water, and I guess at one time there was a mill on the brook — hence its name.

Anyways, things being what they are with Randy having problems with the law and landlords and goodness knows what else, that’ll be saved for another day.  And I have to interrupt myself. I just read in the paper: another floater. I repeat this again and again, but folks just won’t respect the water. Graduate of Harvard, of all things. Guy weren’t stupid, right? Just goes to show it can happen to anybody. Please let this be a lesson to all of you. DON’T FUCK WITH THE HARBOR. It’ll win, I guarantee.

I recently moved, and in so doing I uncovered a lot of notes I accumulated in the past few years, so I’d like to sort of clean out my locker, so to speak …

• You know we have plenty of eels here. Heck, I even caught one once up in Pownal with my bare hands. But I wouldn’t try that in South America. They got eels down there capable of zapping up to 100 volts a shot. And they can regulate just how much electricity per zap, depending on the size of the prey. I just hope they stay down there.

• New Jersey has started allowing fishing boats to keep stripers as bycatch (we call it “shack”). They’re not supposed to actually go looking for ’em, but they can keep ’em if they happen to get ’em. Make no mistake — it’s a fucking disaster. If I had the means I’d take New Jersey to the Supreme Court over this. It just ain’t right. Go back to the map. Check out just how much coastline Jersey takes up. Now, 75 percent of our stripers originate in the Chesapeake Bay, and the migration route drives them up through about 350 miles of the gauntlet of New Jersey.

Boy, I thought New Hampshire was bad. They don’t compare to Jersey. Talk about bad language, I got words for Jersey ain’t even been invented yet.

• Hey, has anybody heard any more about saltwater license issues? Goodness knows I can’t seem to grasp a tidbit of info about the subject. I’ve still yet to even see one! I could’ve predicted this. In fact, I think I did. Folks in Maine do not go for fishing regs. It ain’t so much the money, it’s more regulation in itself. I think “intrusive” sums it up best. Good word.

• At one time just about every girl in Portland could tell you what time every ship came in. I swear they knew better than the friggin’ harbormaster! A real rum bunch of babes, I’ll tell ya.

• And where have the blues gone? I’ve yet to hear of one plausible theory of how we seem to have lost a whole species of fish, although I guess I shouldn’t be real surprised. Christ, I remember four dogfish factories down the harbor, all running about 7-24-365. And they were classed “garbage fish.” A lot of guys wouldn’t fish ’em.

Well, perhaps it’s the way of the whole industry. Goin’ the way of the dinosaur. And to think I remember bluefish tournaments! What happened? They weren’t really worth eating, actually, but I tell ya they’d put up a fight you’d never forget.

• You know, I surmise that Portland, Maine is the most newspaper town I ever seen. To my delight. No such thing as a boring bus ride. You can grab a free daily (or monthly) and read away. That means more folks writing, of course. It’s kind of difficult to stand out in such a crowded line-up. However, I do respect that girl who writes for the Sunday Telegram, Deirdre Fleming. She does the Outdoors section. Now I got it down how sponges and jellyfish convert bacteria into nutrients. A good thing, right? However, they got that tendency to take over whole breeding grounds of other fish.

Well folks, I’m almost out of this round of notes. If anyone would like to know more about the fish world, let me know, in care of this paper.

And for the love of Jesus, please be careful.

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