When the poll numbers drop, go fishing

Gabe Nadelstein and fishing columnist Nelson Sigelman with a fluke. — Photo by Sanford Nadelstein

President Barack Obama and his family arrive today for a 10-day vacation. In the current heated political climate, pundits and bloggers, jealous that they do not get to vacation on someone else’s dime, will examine, dissect and analyze every activity Mr. Obama enjoys.

“This is Shepard Smith. We go to Sean Hannity, who is traveling with the press corp. Sean, what can you tell us about the president’s vacation activities today?”

“Well, Shepard, the president arrived on Main Street in Vineyard Haven about 3 pm. He got out of his limousine and walked into an ice cream shop by the name of Mad Martha’s where he ordered a double-scoop, mocha-mint ice cream cone.”

“Double-scoop, mocha-mint, you said Sean.”

“Yes, double-scoop, mocha-mint, Shepard. We are in a recession, double-dip unemployment and the president orders two scoops of ice cream. The sheer audacity of this man is unbelievable.”

“Sean, Wolf Blitzer here. Do you think he would have sent a different message if he had ordered one scoop? I mean would the American public grant him one scoop, but not two? I want to pose that question to my colleague, Donna Brazile.”

“Well, Wolf, I am more intrigued by his choice of flavors. He bypassed chocolate or vanilla and went with a flavor that could best be described as middle-of-the-road. I see this as an effort to build on the multi-racial coalition that propelled him into office.”

“Sean, Bill O’Reilly here. Only a pinhead orders mocha-mint. Now is it true that Mr. Obama plans to play golf later this afternoon on one of the most exclusive courses on Martha’s Vineyard — asking price for a membership $500,000, while the rest of us, I mean the rest of the country, not us, are watching their retirement savings dwindle to nothing.”

“Bill it is true. The sheer audacity of this man is unbelievable. I want to ask a local resident, Nelson Sigelman, what he thinks. Nelson what do you think. One scoop or two?”

“Sean, I don’t care. I think the president needs to go fishing.”

My view

That’s how I see the conversation going. The national press can find a lot of reasons to beat the president about the polls when he goes out to eat at expensive Island restaurants, or plays golf on a private, exclusive course like the Vineyard Golf Club. But I’ll bet they would find it pretty hard to find fault with the guy if he took his two girls fishing.

I did a little research. Political strategists get paid thousands of dollars a month to provide common sense advice to candidates. I will offer some free vacation advice.

August shore fishing can be pretty slow. The water is warm and the striped bass and bluefish do not always cooperate. But it is possible to have a fun experience.

Jigging for squid from Memorial Wharf in Edgartown is about as basic as it gets. Make sure the girls leave the white pants behind.

You will need short limber rods and a variety of multi-colored squid jigs available at any Island tackle shop. Squid fishing is about finesse, not power. Arrive after dark, say about 9:30 pm, when the squid begin to congregate where there is some light.

Drop the jig into the water and give a series of short tugs. The squid will embrace the jig like a long-lost lover and become impaled on its ring of tines. I assume one of your Secret Service contingent would step between you and the squid if it begins to squirt black ink.

Invert the squid jig and drop it into a bucket (don’t forget the bucket). Announce to the press contingent that you and the family plan to fry up a pan of calamari when you return to Blue Heron Farm (good for the ethnic vote).

If it is fish you want, the best guarantee of fish and good, clean fun is to go boat fishing for scup. It is great sport for the kids, and every family from San Diego to Boston (including the Heartland) will relate to the joy of pan fish.

Scup are very scrappy for their size. They are easy to catch, fight hard, and taste great. The current size limit is 10.5-inches, but if you are unconcerned with catching legal-size fish you can pretty much count on non-stop action.

On Saturday, I went fishing with my friend Sanford Nadelstein and his two young boys, Ben, 12, and Gabe, 11. Sandy wanted to introduce his sons to the fun of fishing but lacked any knowledge or equipment.

I rigged up one short boat rod with a spinning reel and grabbed a very light six-foot freshwater spinning rod. I attached a three-way swivel to the end of the fishing line. I attached a small scup hook to one swivel and a one-ounce weight to the other. For bait we used squid (available in tackle shops, if you skipped step-one).

I think the key when introducing kids to this type of fishing is to keep it simple and light. One ounce works with light tackle as long as the depth is less than 30-feet.

Almost any rocky spot from Menemsha to Cape Poge holds scup. We began fishing in the outer harbor near West Chop, and later fished off Makonikey where we caught scup and an occasional sea bass. The day ended with a drift over Middle Ground just as the tide began to run. We caught several small fluke.

I reference the tidal current because Middle Ground can be intimidating when the tide begins to run. The important thing to remember when you take kids fishing for the first time is to do everything possible to make it fun.

Now back to you, Mr. President. I do not think the Secret Service is going to let you hop into a 17-foot center console and go fishing for scup. But you could rent a party boat like the Skipper out of Oak Bluffs and make a day out of it with family and friends.

It would be good politics, and that’s on me.

Hooter is hot

Cooper Gilkes said the Hooter is hot. The channel marker southeast of the Vineyard has been attracting lots of fish and fishermen. Coop said bonito, bluefish, striped bass and bluefin tuna are generating plenty of excitement.

In contrast, the shore fishing has been slow. Striper fishermen are working for their fish. No reports yet of false albacore.