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A fresh striper, taken on the Agawam River in late April.

ENE Blog: The Agawam Cure

By Tom Richardson
A pair of willet rest on the marsh bank. Photo Tom Richardson

This week I took advantage of a calm, sunny day to perform what is becoming an annual spring ritual: paddling and fishing on the Wareham and lower Agawam Rivers in Wareham, Massachusetts. The Agawam is mostly tidal from its meeting with the Wareham River to the herring run and dam at Mill Pond, some three miles upstream. As such, it holds some of the first school striped bass of the season, which apparently find the warmer waters of the river more to their liking than  the chillier waters of nearby Buzzards Bay, into which the rivers flow.

As per usual, I launched at the public access site behind the historic Tremont Nail Factory, which sits at the headwaters of the Wareham River. It’s a convenient place to launch a kayak, but also serves as a local hangout and dumping ground, and I was dismayed by the huge amount of trash that lay strewn about. I wasn’t going to let that ruin my day, however!

It was low tide, but I had just enough water to paddle downriver, noting the unusual abundance of jellyfish in this stretch of the river. There were hundreds of them scattered over the mud bottom, but I have no idea what species they were or why they had gravitated toward this very brackish part of the river.

Continuing south, I soon reached the junction of the Wareham and Agawam then turned left and paddled cautiously past the gang of mute swans that patrol the marsh at Mayflower Ridge. A few minutes later, I arrived at my hot spot, beached my kayak on the mud bank, and began to cast on foot. It wasn’t long before something rapped my white Dart Spin lure as I hopped it over the bottom. I lifted the rod and felt the throb of a fish—always a welcome sensation after a long winter, but especially so this year.

The fish turned out to be a striper in the 26-inch range—somewhat larger than what I normally catch this early in the season. As I removed the hook, an osprey regarded me from a tree branch across the river. It was ripping apart a freshly captured herring, and seemed to wondering what I intended to do with my catch. I released the fish, and the osprey flew off, apparently disgusted.

In the next hour or so, as the tide filled the river, I caught three more stripers while watching the osprey and great blue heron soaring overhead. Occasionally a flight of willet or goldeneye would whistle past, low to the water. It was a wonderful day to be outdoors, and I almost forgot about the pandemic that has so abruptly and dramatically changed our lives. Thank goodness for the outdoors!

By the way, you can learn more about paddling the Agawam River here.

Tom Richardson

Editor/Host