Fall River’s Secret Wheelchair-Accessible Fishing Spot Is a True Hidden Gem
On my quest to see the Cook Pond bald eagles up close, I decided to detour over to the Cook Pond boat ramp. I’ve never been to this part of the city, nor does it seem like many people have. I guess you wouldn't really go that way unless you had a boat, right? The funny things is, for all the items I've seen at Cook Pond, I’ve never seen a boat in it, either. Up until recently, I assumed it was a swimming/boating free zone.
Sorry if I just ruined that for some of you, but it is just so serene that I'm not sure why more people aren’t out there, finding peace and stuff. Not sorry to families who have been missing out on activities because of inaccessibility, though; I've got you.
Anyway, in my quest to see these birds who I swear flew right in front of my car that morning, I decided I was going to hang out on the dock for a while and hope for the best.
At first, I thought a piece of the top railing was missing from the dock, but that seemed strange given how immaculate the rest of the dock was. Then I noticed a few other "missing" pieces and thought it was some artistic choice by the designer. You can find art in a lot of natural spaces lately so that wasn’t a far-fetched idea. Every two tall sections of railing were broken up by a shorter section of railing.
Then finally I read the sign, which I should have done earlier but was too fixated on said eagles. These eight lower sections of railing are part of one of the very few barrier free fishing areas in the state. Barrier free fishing means that these deliberate, lower railings make fishing wheelchair accessible. This particular site is labeled as a barrier free shore fishing area, meaning the property provides shore fishing access.
To date, there are only 18 other barrier-free fishing sites across the state of Massachusetts, according to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Cook Pond isn’t even on the list, making it pretty hard to find unless you know someone who knows someone with a wheelchair who has been here before.
If you are a mom whose child uses a wheelchair, you may know the struggle of your child’s view being obstructed by a railing at a zoo or a park. You can imagine that casting a fishing pole up and over a higher railing can put a damper on an experience, never mind the railing getting in the way of them seeing the water in all its glory as they pull up their first fish.
Kudos to the state for the barrier-free fishing dock in Fall River. With more than enough parking and plenty of room for fishing, including eight barrier free sections on all three sides, there’s never been a better time for everyone to get out there and find their own fish tale. Maybe if you are really lucky, you'll get to see those elusive bald eagles up close, too.