What I Learned On My Summer Vacation In Little Compton
1. Don’t ever bring bananas to a Rhode Island fishing trip.
Rhode Islanders like their traditions and habits die hard. Bananas bring bad luck, say boaters. I learned that this summer on an ocean fishing trip off the shore of Little Compton, R.I. We vacationed in Little Compton, a terrific, peaceful hide-away from life’s daily grind. We hired Ryan Gluek as our fishing guide. Ryan’s a Rhode Island native who gained fishing expertise, both salt and freshwater, by going to schools and taking jobs from Alaska to Colorado, and fishing in local waters his entire life. He runs a small business called Double Haul Anglers, and he’ll drop his 23-foot boat anywhere in the Little Compton/Westport area where it’s convenient for your excursion.
Apparently in the 1700’s sailors experienced hard times when transporting bananas on the high seas. The fruits rotted, they attracted bugs and vermin, ships sank, sailors died, they experienced lots of bad luck. At Ryan’s firm urging, we ate some of the bananas before pushing off, leaving the rest for the hungry gulls. It’s a very good thing we did. I typically fish freshwater lakes, as I have never caught much of anything (besides a cold) in salt water, and my bad luck spell came to a halt. This time I caught a half dozen rather large sea bass, with Ryan’s pro guidance, the Garmin HD radar fish finder, tackle and gear.
What else did I learn on my LC vacation?
2. Sandy beaches are more enjoyable than rocky beaches.
Goosewing Beach is a terrific sandy beach, where you can drive right up to the shore. This makes for a lot less of the inevitable schlepping of your chairs and stuff. Very worth exploring is the Nature Conservancy’s Goosewing Beach Preserve.
3. You can get anything you want at C.R. Wilbur’s General Store.
Talk about 18th century traditions living on in Rhode Island, from hardware to groceries, books, clothing, even big city daily newspapers, this store really is a throwback to another era when the general store was the place for one-stop shopping. We picked up everything we needed from cookie dough to lemons to boogie boards for the beach. Except they don’t sell bait and fishing tackle. You can’t get bait, tackle or a R.I. fishing license at Wilbur’s, and that’s too bad.
4. You won’t catch any fish from the dock at Stafford’s Pond.
You can fish for freshwater bass or trout at Stafford’s Pond in Tiverton. It’s a little tricky to find the parking lot and boat launch off Stafford Road-Route 81, but once you do (Look for Old Stafford Road.), it’s a nice little place for fishing. The state stocks the reservoir with trout in the spring, and get the trout stamp when you get your license online for a few more bucks. But you’ll need a boat. Any boat will suffice, kayak, row boat, anything. Because you won’t even get a nibble from a pesky blue gill from the dock, and you’ll get caught on the rocky shore. Get your bait and tackle on the way, whether in Falls River, Narraganset or Westport, because there’s no place to get it in Little Compton.
5. Snack on ice cream at Gray’s.
Forget bananas on board the boat and head to Gray’s Ice Cream in Tiverton. They open at the crack of dawn at 6:30 am, so you can even try ice cream for breakfast, it’s high in protein! So, before or after fishing, grab the best homemade ice cream in the region. They have more creamy flavors than you can imagine, yogurt and sherbets as well. You can get a cone and sit on the benches or grab pints to bring home. Skip the banana chip flavor, though, if you’re looking for good fishing karma.
It’s a good thing Ryan didn’t press us with some of the other more onerous 18th century boating superstitions, like “No fishing on Thursdays.” or, better yet, “No women on board a boat.” If he did, somebody would have been screaming “Man over board.”
More About Jim Diamond
Jim Diamond splits his time between Norwalk, Connecticut and Tucson, Arizona, where he teaches law at the University of Arizona College of Law.
Photo Credits: Banana photo courtesy of Ryan Gluek and Double Haul Anglers; photo of CR Wilbur's: Mary Brewster (on the store's website); photo of Gray's Ice Cream from the Gray's website; photo of Goosewing Beach from Mother Nature Network