2017-03-23 / Nature

Striper Team Gearing up For Fishing Season

By James Merolla

The AI Striper Team on their annual pollock trip. (Photo provided) The AI Striper Team on their annual pollock trip. (Photo provided) They come from every walk of life and work every angle, as in “angling,” not business. Still, they have a common purpose, which is to fish well, to fish often, to share their love for the sport and to support veterans across the state.

During their meeting this month, when temperatures dipped near zero, spring and the prized striped bass felt many months away. Yet, these enthusiastic sportsmen huddled together with pitched waves of anticipation for the upcoming saltwater season.

“It’s nice to meet you.”

“Hey, how are you?”

“How are your grandsons doing in the basketball finals?”

Welcome to the Aquidneck Island Stripers Team, a friendly, popular, useful commiseration of anglers. Their members are directors of sales, electricians, carpenters, lawyers, businessmen, retirees and teachers. Some are charter boat owners promoting their livelihood, but they are also brothers under the surface.

On this frigid day in March, they stride into a gray Portsmouth building fighting a biting wind. Members buy raffle tickets to win fishing gear, hoping for the latest and best lures, soft baits, sinkers, hooks, a charter trip to Block Island or a prized reel up for grabs.

One man arrives with his teenage son and two others bring their young daughters. The members meet once a month; this time they are in the basement of the VFW Hall in Portsmouth, where they dole out chili and chips along with fishing advice. Members communicate mostly via email, with registration on their website complete with every conceivable bit of tournament, prize, derby and general information.

“This is not a club; it’s a team,” said Ted Zlydaszek, former club president. “Our strength comes from members working together to accomplish great things. All our tournaments and committees are governed by those who volunteer to help and all help is welcome.

“One of my missions as president was to increase membership. So, a few weeks into the season, I asked one of the new members why they joined. He told me all the other clubs he belonged to, and then he said this is the only one where anyone ever offered to take him fishing.”

The club hosts an annual pollack trip out of Plymouth on the Capt. John’s fleet. “This ensures that at least one time a year we get to celebrate the season’s accomplishments and enjoy each other’s company while someone else drives the boat,” Zlydaszek said.

The guest speaker at last week’s meeting was Capt. Mel True from Fishnet Charters. True designs custom poles and jigs, writes for several fishing magazines and operates chartered trips. He showed a 15-minute video and demonstrated the allure of the bright yellow and orange jig he invented that he said proves irresistible to black fish.

Coming Up

Freshwater Fly-tying Workshop

For novice and experienced
fly-tiers, free
Taught by Scott Travers from
Rhode Island DEM, Division of
Fish and Wildlife
Portsmouth Free Public Library
Thursdays, March 23 and 30,
and April 7, 6:30-8 p.m.

Middletown Public Library,
Mondays, March 27 and April 3,

Used Tackle Sale

Annual event by Aquidneck
Island Striper Team, free
VFW Hall, Portsmouth
Saturday, March 25,
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Talk by striper fishing legend
Charlie Soares

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