Project Healing Waters and Stars and Stripers have teamed up for a second year to give disabled veterans a day fishing on Narragansett Bay. On Saturday, June 8, the non profit group of passionate volunteers will help a dozen vets fish with local captains for blues, bass and anything they can catch on a fly rod. Vets are treated to breakfast at Allen Harbor before splitting up onto boats also volunteered by their owners. A shore lunch follows because you can’t tell fish stories on an empty stomach.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing has helped veterans with their healing by putting them outdoors, on the water around supportive folks. More than 8,300 members of the armed services have benefited from their commitment to those who served our country. The Bay is a few degrees warmer than last year and talk around the dock is the fishing will be great this year. In a confusing world, these people ensure our veterans continue to enjoy opportunities the rest of us take for granted. A tip of the camo hat to all the businesses, captains and volunteers; you can learn more about the day and the people at www.projecthealingwaters.org.
One of the Captains who volunteers his boat and time to the Stars and Stripers day is Rene Letourneau. Rene has been covered in these pages over the years because he’s the real deal and finds fish. For the second year in a row, he was one of three finalists for the Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year. It’s always an honor to be recognized for your work and their finalist decisions are based partly on reviews from his clients, many of which return year after year and some come four to five times in the same season.
Captain Rene runs On The Rocks Charters and typically is one of the first boats on the stripers each Spring. He’s been fishing long enough to know their arrival timing and first haunts. He’s been finding stripers and a few blues in the Bay this season from his 21’ Mako and is watching water temperatures rise about two degrees a day. When the water reaches the 65-68 F range, he heads for south of Newport to fish the boulder field. “One day it’s been really good, then one day it’s really bad,” he said. Consider that for Rene, a day with less than ten fish is a bad day.
“If you’re afraid of a little wind, you’re going to lose days on the water,” he said. On board, Rene is a gentleman, patient and all business and he works hard. One client insisted on fishing in seven foot seas after a storm and was rewarded for a few hard earned bluefish. He left Rene a four star review because he thought they should have caught more, despite all that rough and dirty water. To some degree, his relationship with Orvis hinges on those client reviews but for perspective, this year’s Orvis winner fished almost 280 days while Rene fished around 50. Orvis Captains hope their clients will leave a positive review; in a modern age of online everything, that review is a window into their day on the water. Rene is more focused on finding fish and helping his customers improve their casts, enjoy the fight and land the fish safely to get it back in the water.
“I consider it an honor just to be nominated,” Rene said with typical modesty. Consider Orvis’ very long reach, Rene was chosen twice in two years as the best of the best. Rene has drawn clients from as far away as California and Italy because after 16 years guiding, he offers his sports the best opportunity to get on the fish, maybe improve their casts and make a memory. Rene is a professional, a gentlemen captain and guide. From this desk, Rene Letourneau is the absolute best choice for Saltwater Guide of the Year.
The Narrow River Preservation Association for planting 10,000 salt marsh seedlings. They are one third of the way to their goal and would love to have some help from you. It’s good dirty work, digging in plants to help stabilize the substrate and protect us from rising sea levels. Yes, that’s a real thing. This all-volunteer group is looking for people to volunteer whatever time they have to finish this important project. Go with a friend, go with a group of friends, bring the kids, bring your rubber boots. You can even take a ride on a Fish and Wildlife boat on your way to planting some sedge grasses. There’s sign up forms on the NRPA website, www.narrowriver.org.
Todd Corayer is a lifelong fisherman who lives not far from Rhode Island’s Saugatucket River with his wife, who supports his fishing mainly to get him out of the house and a young son who consistently catches more fish than him.