Fishing in Public

by “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley

Licensed and loaded

Hey folks. How are ya! Well, I guess we’ve most made it through another bad season. Thank God for long johns, and hang on to ’em till it’s long too late.

You know, I really did it this year. I been saying it for what seems forever, but this year I really went and done it — I am actually in possession of a freshwater fishing license! Sixty years old and I finally own a legit permit to fish in Maine waters. Yeah, when I say I’m gonna do something, why, I just put down my foot and goddamn do it!

Well, now I’ve had two occasions to use it. The first time brought out my little speech on long johns. I mean, I was fucking cold. I had another first on that day — I actually got a fishhook stuck in my mitten. Boy, it’s darn cold when you’re fishing with your mittens on! And I was only in the wilds of Westbrook, fishing the Presumpscot River, where we used to swim as young lads. Fond memories of that old swimming hole, I tell you. Me and Cindy would get behind the falling water and do things I won’t mention, and no one could even see us. She was beautiful in a two-piece.

Anyway, my pal Randy insists there’s fish there someplace. I got not one bite. In all fairness though, it could have just been the cold. It might have been so cold they lose their appetite, don’t feel like a nice fresh worm dinner to go. The whole deal was an experience I’d rather forget.

Now, the second attempt was better — at least the weather was. I don’t quite know where we went. I know we took a local bus out somewheres. A really lovely day — perfect spring weather — except for one thing. You got it: nary a bite. Now, things could have gotten real sleepy, but when you get a fishing license they give you a sort of prize: a fishing magazine. So when it’s a day like I was having, well you just whip out your reading material. It’s a pretty good rag. Now, if it’s all I get for $27, well, that’s a bit too steep. But like I say, it is something to browse on a slow fishing day.

I’m not going to quit trying. I’ve got a couple of different spots I can hit. It’s just I’ll probably have to hitchhike to get there. As a matter of fact, my pal Randy is working on a spot up on Sebago. He claims the fish are like whales up there. We’ll see ’bout that bit of info. Fish have a tendency to look a lot bigger in the water. And even though I’m quite hooked on freshwater fishing (ha, ha), my true love will always be my wharves.

I been out scouting fish markets also, and I just don’t see a place that has the sights, smells or general feeling of a fish joint like Harbor Fish. Go on in blindfolded and you still realize you’re in a real fish market. Sometimes fliers in the paper will advertise some fish on sale, and sure enough it’ll be cheaper than Harbor, but you just won’t get the gut feeling in, say, Hannaford or a place like that.

I try to appraise fishing tackle stores each year too. Renys only got the end of one rack for gear — mostly kid stuff. So it looks like Wal-Mart wins again. Unless of course you want the real top-shelf stuff. Then it’s the Tackle Shop on India Street.

By the way, ain’t the new Tukey’s Bridge they’re proposing a real doozey? It looks like someone’s finally doing something right for a change. My only question is, why not a long time ago? The more I look at the artist’s drawing, the better I like it. I just hope a bunch of folks, as they see me bringing in one of my huge stripers, don’t jump on the brakes and cause an accident! I do appreciate putting on a little show now and then for the tourists.

There’s another breaking story as I write this one — Westbrook and the Sappi dam project. They’re actually building a fish ladder. I remember seeing them ladders on the Columbia out in Oregon years ago. It’s another “’bout time” idea. I guess we’re slow to catch on.

I got a trick up my sleeve this year. I’m going to invent an electric fish pole! Great, huh? How many times have you dozed away and had a big ol’ fishy abscond with your bait? Well, no more. I’m gonna make a pole that will register your catch like an alarm clock. That’s what gives people the upper hand in these matters. This pole could just be a start. I’m racing forward with all sorts of different inventions. I better start looking for a patent attorney.

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