WEST WARWICK — The Crompton Fishing Pier was bustling with young anglers Saturday morning during the town’s first ever family fishing day. And though the fish didn’t do much biting, in Stan Brittsan’s eyes, the event was a great success.
“It was just an overall great day,” said Brittsan, vice chair of the board of the Pawtuxet River Authority, who worked with Town Councilor Jason Licciardi to organize the first annual event.
Families stood along the fishing pier Saturday, lines cast into the Pawtuxet River. In all, around 14 children showed up for the event throughout the morning, Brittsan said, and each received a prize for participating. Several board members of the river authority were there, as well, to lend help where it was needed.
For the river authority, which partnered with the town to host the family fishing day, the event was a great opportunity to expose residents to the beauty of the waterbody it’s striven for decades to protect.
Created by the General Assembly nearly 50 years ago and funded by the five towns through which the river runs, the Pawtuxet River Authority is charged with improving and protecting the river. As part of that, the nonprofit agency aims to encourage the use of the various access points along it.
“Back in 1972, when we formed this, we wanted to get access, get land, make fish passages, get people out there to enjoy the river,” Brittsan said. “The river’s really beautiful.”
Many don’t even realize the Crompton Fishing Pier exists, Brittsan pointed out, adding that he hopes more residents will take advantage of it.
“The reason we do events like this is to get people out there to enjoy it,” he said. “Enjoy Rhode Island — enjoy the beauty of the rivers and lakes and ponds.”
Brittsan added that he was surprised by how few of those who attended the family fishing day had ever actually been to the pier before.
The town-owned fishing pier and boat ramp was nearly a decade in the making when it was finally completed over two years ago. Following a lengthy process to plan for and construct it, the facility opened in 2017 and was dedicated to late West Warwick resident Jason Pisano.
“[Pisano] was handicapped, and he lived life to the fullest, and that’s why it was dedicated to him — to let people know that you can do anything,” Brittsan said. “This is a beautiful place, come out here and enjoy it.”
Licciardi shared a similar sentiment, calling the pier “a hidden gem.”
“I love to drive by and see people fishing at the fishing pier,” Licciardi added. “It is such a peaceful recreation area in our town.”
Brittsan added that he’s spoken to Licciardi about possibly installing picnic tables at the site to make it more inviting for families seeking a scenic place to eat lunch and relax.
With the inaugural Crompton family fishing day in the books, Brittsan said he hopes that people will convene for the free fishing event “year after year.” And considering the popularity of a similar event held annually in Coventry, he said he’s sure that’ll happen.
“We’ve been doing the same thing over in Tiogue Lake for six years,” Brittsan said. “Every year the same kids come back, and every year we get more kids.”
Just as residents seem to love that event, Brittsan said those who attended the fishing day in West Warwick Saturday appeared to be hooked.
Participants were provided with bait and fishing gear. Despite the area being partially stocked by the Department of Environmental Management a couple days prior, a largemouth bass and a white perch were among the day’s only catches.
Brittsan chalked up the shy fish to the cool temperature outside.
Still, he continued, “it was a beautiful day.”
“People had a good time out there,” he said. “It was nice to get the families and the kids out there to enjoy it.”