No doubt, the tautog bite remains strong, there are stripers a’plenty in southern salt ponds and northern salty rivers with a fair amount on the beach and the first waves of Fall squid are moving in with lower Narragansett tides. The thing is, fishing this month and for the next few is for the extra hardy. Most fishermen are headed indoors for gear and storytelling nights and since there’s no snow or ice yet, the winter team is on hold. The best bet for the next few weeks is to get the tip ups tuned up and start planning the social circuit.
Snug Harbor Marina in, well, Snug Harbor, is hosting their annual Christmas Open House on December 7. There’s no need to interject a pile of fancy words here, it’s just a good time. Elisa Conti Cahill and her brother Matt do a fine job of making everyone feel welcome and they know how to pack a room. They push aside some displays, kind of clear off the counters and crank up the band. There’s always some delicious foods and a cooler full of ice but really, it’s their chance to say thanks to their customers while meeting some new ones and for visitors, it’s a perfect time to shop for Christmas.
Most people have hung up their surf rods and shrink-wrapped their boats so the next best thing to actually going fishing is looking at rooms full of fishing gear you’d like to see under your tree. Then there’s the upstairs, which benefits from a killer view of the harbor and all sorts of used rods, reels, waders, oilers, lures, fly reels anchors and whatever else good fishermen can trade in towards something new. Kick off your holiday and possibly holiday shopping, with an hour on Gooseberry Road and the Conti clan. The fun runs from 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm.
Elisa is also to thank for this next event, for which I will be eternally grateful. On November 29, anyone over 21 should head to Sons Of Liberty in South Kingstown to help them celebrate Freedom Friday. It’s a thing they do to support veterans and law enforcement, who often are also vets. Some of the night’s receipts will be donated to a “veteran or law enforcement focused non-profit and/or organization.” This week’s donation will support The Unquiet Professional, a group dedicated to helping Gold Star families. If you’re wondering how this fits with an outdoors column, it’s easy to connect the dots.
The Unquiet Professional grew from the passing of Army SSG Michael H. Simpson of C Company, 4th BN, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) while he was overseas protecting all of us. His wife, Krista, is an amazing woman who took the ultimate sacrifice and turned it on it’s head. She refused to let grief define her and her two young but already amazing sons. Krista created The Unquiet Professional to ensure families like hers had emotional and financial support to continue their lives with a circle of other families who understood and would listen and maybe make a little noise. So this is where the dots connect back to Snug Harbor.
Krista has two young boys, Michael and Gabriel, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing a few years ago after Elisa at Snug Harbor Marina called to talk about some big striper they had caught. Two sunburned kids with a fish doesn’t exactly win Pulitzers but then there was the ARMY banner, the Special Forces flag, the lawn sign with a picture of a soldier and the grandfather helping corral two gremlins for a conversation. Standing in their garage, connecting the dots on my own, it was clear this would be a turning point in my personal and writing life.
Green Berets are often called the Quiet Professionals. Michael Simson apparently had no issue with being boisterous about his love of country, family and fun, hence his nickname, the Unquiet Professional. Gabriel and Michael are growing quickly as young men and fishermen and this past summer they were gracious enough to allow me to fish their very secret salt pond spot. They very much enjoyed requiring blindfolding me first. Those two, under the watchful eyes and patient hands of their grandfather and Snug Harbor resident Bob Kolb, have landed, released and occasionally grilled more stripers than ten adults, all the while laughing and singing pirate songs.
If you would like to support the supporters, visit Sons of Liberty Beer & Spirits Company at 1425 Kingstown Rd in South Kingstown for a cocktail, a beer or a flight, all distilled and brewed on sight. There will be live music from Big Lux from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the tasting room and the doors open at 1:00p.m. It’s a 21 and over event so the Simpson boys won’t be there to give out fishing tips but just to sweeten the deal, active duty law enforcement, military and veterans will receive 15% off their bill, which includes bar and retail purchases.
Both dates on the calendar are important for different reasons but share common threads of good people getting together to enjoy each other’s company. Besides, Spring will be here before we know it and we’ll all be focused on fishing again before the Simpson boys catch them all.
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.