Fishing History

Fishing has to be one of the greatest pastimes ever invented.  It is also probably one of the oldest.  Early man had to eat, and those succulent Salmon would just call to early men as they saw them in the pristine waters of a streambed.  Early fisherman used their hands or sharpened sticks to catch fish.  The earliest recorded use of fishing lures was in 200AD in Aelian’s Natural History.   The earliest recorded instances of fly fishing were written in 1210 as part of  romance novel.  The first really comprehensive book about fly fishing was written in 1496 and titled Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle.  This book was the first to put fishing forward as a gentlemen’s sport on a par with hunting, then a sport for kings and nobles.

Nowadays of course we don’t live or die based on whether or not some fish is caught, so there is a much less stress and a lot more fun to be had.  Thank god for that, it has become a real pastime and no longer needs to be an occupation.

New England waters are among the most productive on earth.  The winter cycle allows Nutrients to be brought into the upper layers of the water resulting in an incredible bloom of life beginning in the spring and lasting throughout the summer into early fall.  Phytoplankton and zooplankton bloom in massive amounts, bringing in the small filter feeding fish, which are followed by the larger predators and so on.  Thus New England waters are famous for good fishing.

Rhode Island is a great summertime destination for both fresh and saltwater fisherman.  Striped Bass have come back in a big way, although there are very large numbers of small bass the large ones are still being overharvested.  Other species like Bluefish and Flounder are very abundant.  Many people come to Rhode Island during the summer just to enjoy the fishing, especially from New Jersey, New York, and Conneticut, since RI has a superior fishery.

There are many ways to enjoy this sport.  Many fish from shore, sitting in a chair on the beach with baited rods, waiting for that telltale hit and relaxing.  Quite a few own boats and fish from them on their own or with their friends.  Others vacation in RI around Newport or South County and charter a boat to take them to and enjoy a day of fishing.  Of course, there is also the avid fishermans who lives just to fish.  All these different people can find satisfaction somewhere along the 400 miles of coastline in the Ocean State.

The sites can be quite as interesting as the fishing itself.   Fishing from shore and watching the surf come down the Charleston breachway, now there’s a sight.  It is especially interesting watching a boater attempt to charge down the breachway on the way into or out of Ninigret pond, with rocks on either side of them and huge waves going into the breach.  Sunrise in the morning on Narragansett Bay can be a very beautiful site.   Of course, nothing beats the excitement of a huge school of small baitfish jumping out of the water as rapacious Bluefish smash through them.  It is quite a sight to see as the surface of the water boils with the action.  Just makes you want to grab a fishing pole and throw something in there while they’re still slashing.   Of course, the most fun of all is when you have a fish on the line and the drag is singing as he makes a run to escape, with you holding on  as the rod is bent over double.  Its very exciting, and something we can all enjoy at one time or another.

Chris Bell has fished Rhode Island waters for 11 years. Before that he was a writer and PC administrator.   He now guides Rhode Island fishing charters out of Jerusalem on several boats and in the winter writes on various aspects of fishing for stripers, flounder,and other species and fishing techniques.

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