The start of a new fishing season makes us better people

Mauricio Vivaldi holds up a 48-inch striped bass he caught last week that neared 40 pounds. He reported in an email, "We caught two stripers, one 36 inches, second one 48 inches. My friend and I were ready to leave the place where we were fishing in Gay Head ... last cast big hit, took a lot of line, almost all the line. After nearly 15 minutes fighting with the fish we saw his big body. Nice fish. I can't describe the feeling. — Photo courtesy of Fabricio Sornas

Updated Thursday, May 17

The Martha’s Vineyard fishing season came early this year. I suspect many fishermen barely had time to spool reels and prepare their spouses for the transition from winter time to fishing time, a seasonal adjustment that requires more of an effort than advancing the clocks in the house ahead by one hour.

My wife is not a fisherman, but she welcomes fishing season. Like a bear stirring from its den, I leave the living room couch and head to the beach. Norma welcomes the peace and quiet that my not having my finger on the television remote control brings.

As many Island fishermen did, in early March I took advantage of the Island’s white perch fishing in West Tisbury great pond. It was a fine way to shake off winter boredom and limber up my casting arm. White perch are also delicious.

My focus on perch was short lived, due to the unexpected arrival of striped bass in early April and the welcome invasion of squid in Edgartown waters.

I like jigging for squid from the beach. It is addictive to move down the fish chain. On nights when I might have gone in search of bass, I was content to pull in squid after squid — and some mighty big, scary sized squid.

Jigging for squid from the beach is great fun for the kids. It is manageable, even for those adults who lack advanced fishing skills, and requires no advanced gear. These are cephalopods, not tuna. Best of all, squid squirt ink and water. What kid is not going to like that?

A pair of boots, a short rod, a pink Yozuri jig (at least that is what worked for me), and a bucket are all that is needed. Edgartown’s docks are popular squid spots, but I prefer State Beach. The action may be slower, but there is more room and adults can rest easier when the kids get close to the water.

The action begins at dusk. Cast the jig out and let it sink, give a few tugs and wait for a tug in return. The phenomenon of squid on the beach in not a common occurrence. Now is the time to take advantage on the Island’s bounty.

Striper fishermen are having a great time. The May fishing is reminiscent of June, when we normally expect to find good numbers of striped moving along our shores.

I have been hearing about fishermen catching good sized bass from South beach, Gay Head, Squibnocket, Menemsha, and big bridge — pretty much any of the Island’s known fishing spots. On Monday, I decided to stretch my legs after dinner and go for a walk along the north shore armed with a light spinning rod.

My goal was to walk to a small jetty then return. Every fishing season I renew annual acquaintances. On my walk I passed Roland Miller fishing from the beach. He said he had had one hit.

As I approached the jetty I saw the unmistakable sign of rising fish. I cast a small bubble-gum-colored Sluggo. The rising fish ignored it. I changed my retrieve, quickening the pace. A fish slammed the pink plastic worm, an imitation of who-knows-what.

I hooked and released several more fish, the largest close to 30-inches long. I glanced up the beach hopeful that Roland was also catching fish or would question what had stopped me in my tracks and was walking in my direction. When I realized he was not, I faced an important decision.

Should I continue fishing, or should I walk up the beach and alert Roland to all the action. My natural inclination would have been to stay where I was and keep fishing. But I decided to walk back up and alert Roland.

There is something about the start of the Island fishing season that makes you want to be a better person.

On a separate but related note, I have heard from a number of people unhappy with the change in our tide chart. I am unhappy. The feds stopped providing tidal data for several points. We are at work on a replacement.

There have been several changes to the fishing regulations. Fishermen are reminded to check the regs and if you have not already done so, register for a state saltwater fishing permit.


The names were switched in the photo that appears in the print edition. Mauricio Vivaldi and not Fabricio Sornas caught the large bass.