Close, close we are to those warm mornings of Spring, when there’s time for a few casts before work and those first tender plugs of daffodils part cold mulch but first, first we have some weeks of skating on thin ice, a few shots of root beer and watching movies to get us all kinds of fired up for warm water.
Up north, way past Tower Hill, Brandon Regnault has been catching fish through some very skinny ice and working the floor at Big Bear Hunting and Fishing in Chepachet. Brandon’s a big guy who looks like he has a permanent case of Spring fever and every conversation seems to find its way back to fishing.
We met up at the Connecticut Outdoor Expo recently and man, you can just tell the guy has his sights set on catching. He’ll be fishing the Mass Bass Nation Sunday Team Trials this summer and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of him on this page and him leading the leader board through the season.
A bit to the southard, there’s a rumor floating around (get it? Floating? )that A&W in Smithfield will reopen for the season on March 9. Anyone who fishes Stump or Georgiaville Pond surely has cooled off with a burger and a float at this venerable establishment and even if you haven’t, I’m taking this as a sure sign of Spring closing in quickly.
The South County freshwater fishing scene has been pretty good actually. Even with a lack of solid ice, except for a few days here or there, there continues to be some decent shore fishing. Those rattling MirrOlures and perch patterns are pretty effective and local favorite Bob Buscher is also a big fan of those Lucky Craft lures. Bob hasn’t missed a cold water beat, bringing aboard the largemouth in quick succession. His mastery is not just persistence but understanding what fish are targeting. He’s another ace we’ll certainly hear more from in the very near future.
In that general direction, The Kayak Centre will show the Paddling Film Festival on March 19. The festival started in 2006 with a mission to showcase the best paddling films out there and has been shown just less than one thousand times in 120 cities from here to Australia. A very significant part of this event is that some proceeds from screening the film are donated by Rapid Media to help support filmmakers who want to showcase their own paddling films. The showing is presented in partnership with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The Trail is some 740 miles of passage through 59 lakes and ponds, 23 rivers and streams with more than seventy miles of portages from Old Forge, New York to Fort Kent, Maine. My Lord, what an experience that must be. Years ago, paddling through Umsaskis Lake on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, we came across two guys in a canoe doing this route. It was hard for us to figure out how a couple of New York boys paddled their way into a remote stretch of Maine but it was the Trail that led them.
Speaking of Umsaskis, if you have a few minutes before the winter season melts away, have a read of My Life in the Maine Woods by Annette Jackson. It’s a lovely walk through a life lived on the lake with a game warden husband, back in the day.
So the Northern Forest Canoe Trail includes collaboration in their mission statement, hence this showing but they also mention grit. “Perseverance and the willingness to get our hands dirty is essential,” is part of their core beliefs. That’s a pretty fine quality to have when you’re paddling across the rough spine of New England or off Monahan’s Pier with two hours to go before any kind of sunlight, when you might switch from stripers to albies. Grit is a word we don’t use much anymore and that’s a shame. Seeing all those films where people push personal limits or just lazily drift down an evergreen river promoted by a group who works to maintain and preserve waterways for all of us to enjoy and experience, well that alone is worth the price of admission.
The Kayak Centre will show the film at 7 p.m. but you can get in at 6:30 p.m. to have a look around at the Eddyline, Feel Free and Hobie kayaks, NRS gear and Patagonia clothing. The show costs just twelve dollars in advance, which is the same price as a decent four pack of local stout so both are a bargain or it’s fifteen dollars at the door if you spent your cash on the stout first.
The Kayak Centre is located at 70 Brown Street in Wickford.
The Paddling Film Festival is similar to the Fly Fishing Film Tour which visited the Agawam Hunt Club in Rumford on March 1; both are montages of the year’s best sport films, both give us a respite from dirty snowy roads, windshield wipers frozen to rear windows and the sound of that oil truck backing down the street. They take us to gorgeous, far-away places where adventurers and fishermen are taking full advantage of that “life is short” mantra surrounded by mountains, roadless tracts and probably acres of daffodils.