Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
– H.D. Thoreau
Block Island is covered and surrounded by piscine environments, and November is the perfect time for fishing – if not necessarily catching. I suspect that nothing quiets the soul or quickens the mind quite like standing at a shoreline cloaked in the island’s November beauty.
I have not yet learned to fish with pole, or reel, or fly, or ice tip-ups, or weighted twine, but someday I hope to. For now, I fish November – a transition month between summer economy and winter production – in the hunt for inspiration, rejuvenation and sustenance. To enjoy November fishing try one of these local “hot” spots:
• Approach the southern end of Sands Pond by walking down the stonewall- and tree-lined Payne Road. At the southern end the road seemingly touches and overlooks Sands Pond, which at that spot is edged in reeds, and adorned by overhanging branches and leaning, crooked high-bush blueberry shrubs. Pause there and note that it is protected, in most wind directions, from chilling air. If you stand quietly and both focus and avert your stare, you will soon catch glimpses of flitting birds, insects dabbing at the water surface and perhaps fish rising to the bait.
• Stand at the Old Town Road bridge over Mill Tail Pond and cast your gaze to the far side. How long will it be before you notice among the yellowing water lily pads and swaying cattails that there are also mallards or other ducks floating in the ripples of stillness?
• Head to Cooneymus beach at sundown. In November – when sunsets come early – you simply need a sweater and a seat on the bleached pieces of drift wood that are the bones of the island’s prime lumber yard to haul in the setting sun’s afterglow, and appreciate the cobble-roll of rounded stones being pushed and drawn by ocean swells.
• A walk down the road past Josiah Peckham’s and Eddy B.’s along the edge of Franklin Swamp will reward with autumn wetland colors: silvery-grey branches thickly speckled with red winterberries, the golden-bronze of shad tree leaves, the verdant green of newly watered mosses and sphagnum and a multitude of blue-grey bayberries, all laced together by coils of orange-and-red bittersweet and brilliant brandy-red twining Virginia creeper. So dazzled by November colors, one forgets to be awed by the presence of eels in such thickly vegetated water bodies.
• A visit to Sachem Pond will find that the pond’s silky surface in late afternoon offers a reflection of tan and tawny dunes, beaches, fields, and tufts of beach and switch grasses. Linger long enough, and the details of day will give way to stunning silhouettes of the lighthouse and diving cormorants.
• And to actually “catch” fish in November, head to the waters of the New Harbor, where common loons will come to the surface in the channel with wriggling fish in their bills; where the rattle of a kingfisher over Harbor Pond will alert the watcher to a dramatic and usually successful plunging dive; where watery bottlenecks cause fish to jump and splash; where an Indian summer afternoon wade at Andy’s Way will have mummy chugs and three-inch fishlings swirling in the ebb and flow, bumping into late-season bare feet and ankles.
The following November events and Ocean View Foundations programs are sure to provide opportunities for November fishing.
Nov. 1 and 15, at 8 a.m.: Crazy-as-a-Coot Bird Walk, call 595-7055 for location.
Nov. 6, at 11 a.m.: Mystery Walk, call 401-595-7055 to sign up for this walk by Nov. 3.
Nov. 10: Full Striper moon.
Nov. 18: Leonid meteors.
Nov. 26 at 1 – 3 p.m.: November Fishing walk, meet at Fred Benson Beach parking area.
In keeping with this series of articles, I propose adding a Block Island full moon name – Striper moon – to the more commonly known Frosty or Beaver moon of November.