Fishing leaves time to ponder the importance of gluten

Tom Robinson kisses what I assume is a gluten free striped bass he caught in Sengekontacket Pond early in the season. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Not every cast produces a fish. So I stand on the beach thinking. I think about a lot of things. One night last week I thought about gluten.

What is gluten, I thought. It was on my mind because one of my fishing pit stops is the Scottish Bakehouse. Every fisherman needs a network of places where he or she can find human bait in the form of big sugary treats.

I am fond of the apple turnovers, lemon bars, and anything with a big glop of buttercream frosting. I would buy a piece of cardboard if it was frosted with buttercream.

In the not so old days, when Mrs. White owned the place and I suspect never gave a passing thought to gluten, you could buy an apple pie in a rich shortbread crust. It was my favorite.

I can say that the Bakehouse makes a delicious cinnamon bun but it often disappears quickly from the shelf. It is a staple of my ride home after taking a morning stand during deer hunting season.

On my way to fish off Menemsha beach last week I stopped for a treat. The cupboard was somewhat bare as it was in the early evening, but I still found fuel for several hours of casting.

Several signs proclaimed the absence of gluten in various bakery products. For several years I have been noticing an increase in information about gluten but have pretty much not looked into the details. So I stood on the beach thinking about gluten, and waited for a strike.

I asked Tom Robinson, fishing nearby, if there might be a business opportunity. Perhaps Coop could advertise gluten-free eels. Or maybe, given the trajectory of signs and increasing regulatory action, one day we might be able to sell products based on the availablity of gluten — whatever gluten is.

Tom kept fishing.

The weather, east to northeast winds and occasional driving rain, did little to enhance the fishing earlier this week. But people fished.

Saturday evening, I took a walk about 6:30 pm along Mink Meadows. The overcast skies and slight drizzle seemed to me to be perfect conditions for a popping plug. The wind was screaming out of the east, southeast and I had no difficulty sending the 1-ounce plug some distance. I was optimistic that the plug’s gurgling and rattling would attract a smashing strike.

Jim Lepore of Vineyard Haven and Kansas had the same idea only he was fly fishing. The shoreline was a soup of weeds and he was having a devil of a time. But he kept at it. Weather is seldom a good reason not to fish on Martha’s Vineyard.

Plenty of reasons

Fishermen have plenty of reasons to fish this month. On Saturday and Sunday, the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club will host its 21st annual Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament.

There are three prize categories: the Roberto Germani Trophy, for the most striped bass caught and released by a team; the Sonny and Joey Beaulieu Trophy, for the largest striped bass caught and released; and the Arnold Spofford Trophy, for the most fish caught and released by a team using one fly.

The entry fee is $35. Money raised by the tournament helps support a variety of youth programs. For tournament information or to contribute, contact Cooper Gilkes at 508-627-3909. Sign-up is Saturday afternoon at the high school.

This month, Larry’s tackle shop on Upper Main Street in Edgartown is holding a contest for the big boys, “Larry’s Bass Battle.” There is a shore and boat division with all cash prizes. The entry fee is $30.

Juilian Pepper was manning the counter when I called Wednesday morning to ask who was out of the starting gate early. Julian said Jeff Komarinetz, AKA Land Bank Jeff, had the shore lead with an 18.45-pound fish and bluesman Johnny Hoy had the boat lead with a 19.03-pounder.

Changes in striper management

On June 5 in Hanover, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) hosted an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) public hearing on the latest proposed changes to the management plan under which member states along the Atlantic coast manage striped bass. The proposals are referred to as Atlantic Striped Bass Draft Addendum III.

The draft addendum proposes implementing a mandatory commercial tagging program for all states or jurisdictions with commercial striped bass fisheries and increasing penalties for illegally harvested fish, according to a press release.

These options are intended to help prevent commercial striped bass quota overages and the illegal harvest of striped bass, both of which have the potential to undermine the sustainability of striped bass populations and reduce the economic opportunities of commercial fishermen who are legally participating in the fishery, ASMFC said. Options under consideration in the implementation of a tagging program include, but are not limited to, who applies the tags and when, how many tags a state can distribute and whether unused tags must be returned, whether tags are standardized among all states, and how long affixed tags are to stay in place.

These recommendations grew out of an investigation by what is known as the Interstate Watershed Task Force (IWTF), investigative agencies operating in the Chesapeake Bay. The IWTF conducted a multi-year, multi-jurisdictional investigation on illegal commercial striped bass harvest within Chesapeake Bay which resulted in over $1.6 million in fines levied against 19 individuals and three corporations for harvesting more than one million pounds of illegal striped bass that was estimated to be worth up to $7 million, ASMFC said.

The investigation revealed that some of the control measures in place for regulating the harvest of striped bass were ineffective or inadequately designed to maximize compliance. The investigation also found that greater accountability of wholesalers would be difficult to achieve without uniform tags (colors, design) and tagging requirements, valid year and size limits inscribed on tags, and increased dealer compliance education.

The ASMFC includes 15 Atlantic coastal states. member states are required to comply with ASMFC regulations or face strict penalties.

The ASMFC is encouraging fishermen and other interested groups to provide input on the draft addendum, available on the Commission website at under breaking news or by contacting the Commission at 703-842-0740. Public comment will be accepted until 5 pm, July 13, 2012, and should be forwarded to Kate Taylor, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; by FAX at 703-842-0741 or email to (subject line: Atlantic Striped Bass Draft Addendum III).

If you do not participate you do not have much reason to complain when the rules are not to your liking.

Father’s Day contributions wanted

Do you have a photo and favorite memory of fishing with dad?

Please forward your photo with a short fishing story and description of your dad (200 words or less) to me at The Times.

The photo does not need to be fishing related. It could just be of your dad mowing the lawn. But I do want a few paragraphs about being outdoors with your dad. Please identify all the people in the photo and provide a contact telephone number or email address if I need to follow up.

I will include a selection of photos and stories in my fishing column, and the entire selection will appear on the website on June 14, in advance of Father’s Day.

Photos should be mailed, emailed, or dropped off at The Times, no later than Monday, June 11.

Mailing address: The Martha’s Vineyard Times, 30 Beach Road, PO 518, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.