Trout Season Has Begun

Trout fishing season usually opens with a bang on the second Saturday of April. Hundreds of people crowd into bait shops waiting for the 6am start time. (See below for my annual visit with Dave at Ocean State Tackle.) Then the hordes would descend on the ponds and lakes and, as you know, we don’t do ‘hordes’ this year. What was the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to do?

According to the Providence Journal,

On Monday, the DEM announced the immediate, early opening of a select number of water bodies that agency staff believe have enough space for people to keep a safe distance from each other while they fish. As part of the scaled-back plan adopted under an emergency regulation, the agency is also staggering fishing days with the aim of keeping crowds from forming at any one spot.

So the DEM announced a soft and limited opening on Monday morning with the following plan:

In total, about three-quarters of the usual fishing spots are open to the public. But among the places left off the list are popular ponds in state parks, including those in Lincoln Woods, Pulaski Park in Chepachet and Meshanticut State Park in Cranston.

Restocking will occur but, to minimize crowds, will not be announced in advance.

To keep crowds down: People with last names beginning with A-M can fish only on even-numbered days. People whose last names begin with N-Z are allowed to fish on odd-numbered days. More information at Designated Trout Waters.

I didn’t know what to expect today when I drove by Ocean State Tackle on Branch Avenue. I knew owner Dave Henault had a bait window, so I thought he might up-and-running. And he will be soon. As it turned out, Dave has been self-quarantining because he recently returned from Southeast Asia where he bicycled 2500km in an effort to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Network. He lost 40 pounds. I happened to catch him today and we hollered at each other about 20 feet apart. He stayed inside the shop (you can barely see him through his door below). He answered a few questions about the upcoming schedule and the coronavirus protocols.

Dave’s bait window opens this Friday at noon! He will still be in isolation somewhere, but he is emphatic about keeping everyone safe. They will be enforcing strict social distancing rules or forget it. The staff will be wearing masks and gloves. They will be selling live bait like green crabs and shiners. If you want tackle, text him at (401) 749-3474. Everything will be pre-packaged.  ONE person at a time can approach the window. When that customer is done and leaves, another may approach the window. Everyone must stay six feet apart. He gets it.

His awesome yellow lab, Sukha, was away today, but should be back shortly. Sukha means “happiness” in Sanskrit. They both identify as Tibetan Buddhists, hence the big Buddha on the side of the building.

Window hours: Saturday & Sunday, 6am to 2pm. During the week, 7am to 2pm.

I found a lovely write-up at The Fish Wrap Writer; they spoke with Dave before he left on his trip in December.

Ocean State Tackle, 430 Branch Avenue, (directions)

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