From trolling to surfcasting – a conversion of passion

From trolling to surfcasting – a conversion of passion

By, Ted Abbott


Ted Abbott casting at dusk on a November evening at East Beach in Watch Hill, RI

Ted Abbott is an avid boater, but when it comes to fishing he’s happiest with his toes firmly planted in the sand of East Beach in Watch Hill, where surfcasters appear to be part of the natural landscape regardless of season.

And his toes are firmly planted in that sand just about every day.

No, he’s not retired or independently wealthy. But he is addicted to the adrenaline rush of a bent pole and the fight to reel one in. Unless there’s a gale blowing or it’s pouring rain, Abbott is out there before work. And sometimes after work too. But surfcasting is a new and more intense chapter for him. Prior to his conversion from boat casting, he enjoyed an occasional outing on the reefs, though he wasn’t passionate about it. Now, you’d better have a pretty good offer in order to take him away from his routine of mornings and evenings on the beach.

“It’s just a nicer experience than bobbing around in my boat and watching the helm and the waves and trying to focus on fishing,” Abbott explained. “And there’s always a group of guys on the beach you can talk to and share info with.”

Abbott’s transition to surfcasting was a slow, methodical process. He went from the classic center console fishing scenario off Watch Hill and Fishers Island near his Pawcatuck, CT, home in southeastern Connecticut to kayak fishing in the Pawcatuck River, which creates the border between Connecticut and Rhode Island in that area.

Ted Abbott with a Bonito in August

But all the prep work that goes into kayak fishing or getting his Key West 23 down the river and out to the fishing grounds was getting old. Meanwhile, his thoughts started turning to that devout crew of surfcasters who dot the pristine beaches of the southern Rhode Island shoreline. You’ll find them there nearly every month, trying their luck deep into winter and refreshing their skills early in Spring.

Abbott started driving to East Beach in Watch Hill and nearby Weekapaug, trudging to the shore with coffee, rod, and tackle in hand.

After a few successful trips, his interest in the world of surfcasting took off like a bonito making a run.

He got his Beach Vehicle Permit from the RI Coastal Resources Management Council. He converted his Toyota 4-Runner into a mobile tackle shop, with various rods strung up on either side of the cargo compartment and all manner of gear and tackle splayed about beneath it. He outfitted himself with gear to keep any forecast from interfering with his passion. And he regularly reads the ristripedbass blog and StripersOnline to absorb every tip and trick he can.

Now, like clockwork, his 4-Runner leaves the driveway every morning at or before dawn for the short, one-cup trip to the shore and his newfound buddies in waders. It’s a friendly crew that has taken in their new crewmember with fish stories and tackle tips. He’s earned his place, landing stripers with the best of them. And they didn’t even snub him after he reeled in a prized bonito when everyone else was coming up empty.

“Everyone’s friendly and I can go to my car and sit and change gear or tackle depending on what’s happening. I’m not bouncing around in the boat while I’m changing rigs. And if there’s no action I’m back home without any hassle.”

That camaraderie and relaxed style of fishing, with his wader-ensconced toes firmly on the sand, has made Abbott a passionate surfcaster, part of the landscape of southern Rhode Island.