Gone Fishin' : No great white, but fluke tourney was a great time
I entered the ninth annual fluke Derby with high hopes. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is my innate belief that fishing luck will always compensate for my lack of competitive fire and boat electronics.
I will concede that as part of my preparations I borrowed Tom Robinson's portable GPS. For those unfamiliar with these instruments, they utilize orbiting satellites to provide pinpoint locations.
As near as I could tell Tom had been using the location device to get from his basement to his garage and so would not miss it over the weekend. The overriding factor in my decision to use the gizmo was the fact that my teammate, Remick Smothers, was 18 years old and I knew he would actually be able use it and be able to see the figures on the screen without switching glasses.
Saturday was hot and relatively windless. It was a fine day to be out in my 18-foot Tashmoo.
I decided that we would fish the deep holes off Cape Higgon. We joined a large fleet of boats. I had considered making the run to Robinson's Hole at the west end of Naushon but decided to stay in a spot that had produced many previous winning fluke.
The fishing was good but not spectacular. Had I been a more competitive fisherman I would have worked harder at the game. But the sun and heat was more conducive to dozing.
Later I heard from a returning boat captained by Phil Cronin that the fishing was better at Robinson's. My boat's lack of motivation captured in a photo was an affront to Phil's competitive nature.
In an email he sent along with photo evidence he wrote, "I was both horrified and ashamed when I captured the attached telephoto image of your miserable excuse for a team that recently competed in the 2008 VFW Fluke Tournament held this past weekend.
"What horrified me was the total lack of effort you and your teammate put into this venerable piscatorial contest and I was ashamed that you have previously portrayed yourself as an avid angler. Now you may make the excuse that it was your day off and after spending a week of tormenting in the "salt mine" you call a job a little rest and recuperation is an entitlement but come on now... I for one was always taught that it was not worth doing if it was not done right and from the looks of things you certainly are lacking in the "doing it right" category. I'm surprised a wave didn't knock the two of you out of your deep sleep into the briny."
What Phil failed to realize is that our fluke derby strategy was modeled after Ali's famed rope-a-dope strategy he used to beat George Foreman to regain his world title. Unfortunately Team Net Boys was not as successful as Ali.
We managed to catch several good-sized fluke. Remick also landed a good-sized black sea bass that did not come close to the whopping 6.1-pound fish Heather Maciel caught, but it did make a great dinner.
On Sunday, Remick and I headed out again in the face of a very stiff breeze armed with squid, fluke belly strips and optimism.
I can report that we did see what appeared to be a big fin in the water we initially hoped would be a great white shark. My plan was to ram Coop's boat throwing his crew into the water thereby taking over first place and getting spectacular photos of Coop battling a great white like Tarzan.
Unfortunately it did not work out as planned. The fin belonged to a large sea turtle.
By the afternoon with seas building, three fluke in the boat and little hope of hitting a grand slam we headed back to the dock. We finished in a respectable 11th place out of 21 teams and we had a good time and that is what the Fluke Derby is all about.
Fluke Derby Results
Grand prizewinner: Tim Duys, 11.1 pounds. Team winner: Sole Men, 51.8-pounds (Cooper Gilkes, Rick Harvey, Ralph Case, Cooper Fersen). Sea Bass trophy: Heather Maciel, 6.1 pounds.
Men's division: Tim Duys, 11.1; Rick Harvey, 10.2; Mark Morris, 9.5.
Ladies division: Annette Cingle, 8.5; Bev Bergeron, 7.3; Donna Bishop, 6.7.
Ages 13 to 16: Doug Andrade, 9.6; Doug Fraser, 5.9; Chris Morris, 5.4.
Age 12 and under: Ben Peters, 7.8; Cooper Fersen, 6.5; Brian Fraser, 6.4; Chris Perry, 5.5; Katharine O'Brien, 5.5.
Here we go
The circus returns to Oak Bluffs this weekend in the form of the 22nd Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament. And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water it becomes scary to go to Oak Bluffs.
The annual event has become a target of the Humane Society of the United States. According to a Humane Society press release, this weekend Nigel Barker, world-renowned photographer and judge on "America's Next Top Model," will join the Humane Society to document and photograph the tournament, hoping to capture on film some of the gruesome practices common at such events.
I take that to mean that he plans to capture people eating ice cream on Circuit Avenue. Not a pretty sight.
For those with less refined sensibilities who may be tired of watching full contact sports on TV and thirsty for a little gore the shark weigh-in will be from 3:30 to 7 pm Friday and 3:30 to 6:30 pm Saturday.
The damage is done
Bert Fischer sent me the following email and photo. "My daughter Molly snagged a 20-pound bass this morning in Menemsha Pond that was having difficult time swimming. I cut the bass open to try and figure out what was wrong with it. The only thing in this fish's stomach were the five weights in the enclosed photo (combined weight, just over one pound). So much for yoyo fishing!"
For those new to the technique, it involves placing a lead weight inside a baitfish. The bait sinks and looks natural when the fisherman bobs it up and down.
The practice is banned from the bass and bluefish derby. One fisherman who received the email called it "sickening."