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The Fishman?

by Melissa Dumont

The Fishman: that’s what he calls his business, but the services offered by Rich Chiras of Northbridge are much more extensive than that. It’s true he started with creating and maintaining aquariums, and at one time had over 500 clients, but he has intentionally reduced that number somewhat. “I wanted to spend more time with my wife,” he says, “and as you can imagine, with that many clients all over New England, it was impossible. There was a tremendous amount of travel involved, as well as the time spent actually maintaining the aquariums. So I’ve downsized, and picked up other related work on the side.”

Rich still works with fish, but it’s the live ones in lakes and rivers that occupy him now. He supplies anglers with bait of all kinds. At this time of year, ice fishers are knocking down his door for shiners, little tiny shiny fish for your average size pickerel, pike, perch, salmon and bass, and “suckers,” bait fish six or eight inches long if your angling for the twenty-five pounder. Rich tells me there are contests all over the country for ice fishers to land the largest fish, with cash prizes in abundance.

Hundreds of local people own lizards, if you can believe it, and Rich is the top supplier for their food, the lizards, that is. He sells 3,000 crickets a week, 1,000 giant meal worms a month, and about 1,000 cockroaches. He even adopted a three-foot bearded dragon lizard, for about a year. “It would walk around the shop,” Rich says, “and watch carefully while I was setting up the aquariums.” It got to be too much, though, so “it went to a better home.”

Rich has had a lively, diverse life. He served as Deputy for Middlesex County for nine years, was a professional handgun expert, internationally ranked, and toured for prizes before retiring in 2007. He has transformed those experiences into one of his most important current endeavors. He has been licensed by the State Police for fifteen years as a certified firearms instructor, and offers a Firearms Safety and Training course.

The ten-hour course, which costs $150 for Gun 101, can be completed in one day. Rich’s brochure explains: “This course teaches the basic knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for owning and using a pistol safely. The student will be taught the different types of pistol actions and will practice loading and unloading revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. The student will be taught to understand the concepts of grip, sight alignment and trigger control.” Rich also teaches students the laws governing the application process.

Gun 102, $400, is an intense course geared toward optimizing one’s performance with a firearm. This course will teach professional handgun experts to be even better, as well as teach pre-military and pre-law enforcement students to reach the potential necessary for these demanding professions. They will “gain an understanding of endurance shooting, muscle memory, learning to listen to the gun, and being completely aware.”

So is it to be fish, lizards, or guns? Rich Chiras is there for them all. His shop is located on Main St. in the Rockdale section of Northbridge, and his phone number is 508-341-1269.