Many of us are blessed to have outstanding fishing close to home. In fact, many of us choose to live in areas that are near great fishing! Others of us are required to live closer to work, and if a major metropolitan city is on your horizon then you may find a good amount of competition for space on the water.
Take, for example, Concord, Massachusetts. It’s a significant American city for a lot of reasons. It was the ending point of Paul Revere’s Ride and it’s where the Battle of Lexington and Concord was fought. Concord was home to a number of famous American writers like Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott. Emerson and Thoreau are widely quoted by conservation groups of all sorts. A lesser known famous citizen was Ephraim Bull who invented the Concord Grape, and Welch’s still has the original vine from 1849.
Andy Bonzagni of Concord Outfitters in Concord, Massachusetts (www.concordoutfitters.com), had a lot of good fishing nearby. The coastal saltwater fishing for striped bass, bluefish and other pelagic species was anywhere from half an hour to three hours away. Average freshwater rivers were about the same distance away, with the best waters being up to three hours away. Two ponds were in town, Walden and White’s, and they offered some good stillwater fishing for trout, bass and panfish. Though he enjoyed this fishing, he desired something closer to home in Concord, which set in motion a new effort to clean up some of the waters within the city.
Concord is at the confluence of the Sudbury and the Assabet Rivers, and the latter was an unsung hero in the shadows. With clean ups under way by other interest groups, Bonzagni, his staff, and a wide variety of his customers, spent the preseason cleaning up the river. They removed old tires, trash, and other debris. Once completed, they held fundraisers and special events to generate revenue to buy trout. They worked with local conservation chapters like Trout Unlimited and created a sound foundation to build on. Now there is a new fishery in town, all within minutes of his shop and 20 minutes from downtown Boston.
The modest Bonzagni passes around the hat of success in a recent announcement. “The Assabet received a hefty stocking of trout recently thanks to the generous donations of many of our customers. A heartfelt thank you to all who donated to the stocking this year and to those who came down to help on stocking day. The recent deluge of rain will breathe new life into the Assabet and barring any further drought conditions…the Assabet should be in good shape for quite some time.”
With stewards like Bonzagni, we have no doubt that the Assabet River will be in good shape for a long time to come.
Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com