Fishing in Public

By “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley

Who can predict futures?

Hey folks. It’s 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and I’m just checking my gear. Everything’s ready and all in place to rock and roll, dude!

What’s with all the excitement? Well, you know how it’s like I’m all the time checking new places to visit with my fishing rod? Well, it’s a real hit-or-miss situation — sometimes a good spot, sometimes not. This month I got the luck.

Actually, my editor gave me the idea to go to a faraway town, which I’m always skeptical about, as I prefer to stay in my well-known Portland. More on that in a minute.

I hate to start out with such bad news, but me: yet to even see a striper. I hear people talk, oh yeah, but it seems that’s all it ever amounts to — talk, talk, talk.

Which brings to mind Cap’n Nick. Anybody out there know Cap’n Nick? If there’s any one person on Portland’s waterfront that you should rub shoulders with, it’s Cap’n Nick. He’s forgotten more about fishin’ than most of you will ever know, and he seems to have a miraculous sense of patience, so he’s helped a real lot of kids straighten out their lines (which is always an ongoing battle, it seems).

So anyways, Cap’n Nick’s got two this year, but he’s had to go to York County to do it. Not good. Plus, his son tags fish for the government. He’s one of them guys keep track of fish population. I’m not at liberty to say exact amounts, but I can say this: it ain’t good.

So, of all the new spots I visited, this one has really hooked me. It’s called Knightville Landing. It’s kind of the remnants of what’s left of the old South Portland Bridge. I walked over to get access. There’s a stairway off the east side that takes you down to this place at the bottom of the bridge.

It’s more than a landing. It’s like a public park, and a little beach actually sits alongside of it. (Well, calling it a beach might be kind of a stretch of things, but there’s sure enough a spit of sand.) And there’s a tassel of bushes adjacent so’s if you was bringing a gal with you, you’d find a nice place for, let’s say, intimate moments.

This is one heck of a nice spot. Really, South Portland should pat itself on the back for this one. Heck, there’s tables (with checkerboards) and chairs, nice paved walkways, views, and something almost impossible to see in Portland: it’s clean! It’s even got old trolley tracks on top of the cobblestone entrance from Waterman Drive. The morning I did my reconnoiter people had brang their kids with no apparent worries, which you definitely can’t say about a lot of spots in town.

There’s like a wooden walkway that you can go on. It ends on a raft kind of thing that they say is the best fishing spot out there. I ain’t about to draw you a goddamn map!

As a young lad, South Portland was anything but likeable — for young’uns, that is. Oh, our mothers all loved it. They thought it was heaven on earth. Now, does that tell you anything? It even won an All-America City award, I believe in the year ’68 [ed. note: it was 1964]. Does that tell you even more?

We viewed going across the bridge probably much the same way as people in West Berlin going to visit East Berlin. I mean, why was it that they had a wall and guns? Yeah, SoPo was about that bad. I don’t get why the big rivalry was Portland versus Deering when it was South Portland we were really after. Boy, the brawls we used to have.

But the big thing was the cops. We was out and out petrified of their police department. Funny, nowadays I’m pretty good pals with the chief. Well, at least I was as a teenager. Who can predict futures? Heck, now he’s the chief of police and I’m an ex-con. Who could call that one?

But anyway, Chris has turned me on to one of the bestest fishing holes I ever been at. Now, I don’t want to get carried away. There’s still quite a hike to get there, and it is across the SoPo Bridge, so if you’re afraid of heights it wouldn’t be fun. And like I say, the cops aren’t that fun even to this day. The local bus might get folks somewhat closer. I haven’t checked. And I don’t know about parking there either.

Turns out I didn’t so much as get a nibble, but I plan to return as often as possible. Even if it’s a lousy fishing hole, it’s a real treat to visit.