Gone Fishin' : The "Dutch Guys" return year after year, like the fish do
Photo by Rene Sehr
This fishing column began in June 1999. The winter of that year I had an email from a Dutchman interested in fishing for striped bass on Martha's Vineyard.
Rene Sehr had found The Martha's Vineyard Times website and a summer's worth of fishing columns in the archives. He figured I knew a lot about fishing because I write a fishing column — Ha.
That June, Rene, a freelance writer and shipping traffic controller for the port of Amsterdam, and his fellow controller and fishing pal, Ton Kalkman, visited Martha's Vineyard for the first time.
Alex Preston of Chilmark, a Menemsha charter captain, invited the "Dutch guys," out for an afternoon on his classic 29-foot Dyer bass boat. The Dutch guys caught stripers from Lobsterville Beach. At Wasque, they had fun with bluefish and generally experienced the best the Vineyard has to offer. They went home with memories of great fishing and American hospitality.
Soon, I got an email from Rene. There were four fishing photos attached, and the email said, "We'll be back."
The following year they made good on that promise. Alex generously invited the guys to stay at his house. They have made annual Vineyard visits since.
The Dutch guys were quick studies and learned their way around the Vineyard. When they needed to find a path to an out-of-the-way spot they turned to Google maps. I do not know if I would have thought of that if I was looking for a Heineken brewery in Holland.
This month, the pair returned to the Island. The 14th trip for Rene, 12th for Ton.
Saturday, I invited Rene and Ton to take a trip out to Cape Poge in the afternoon to fish for bluefish. It was the first time we had found an opportunity to fish together in a number of years.
Walking from the North Neck parking lot we encountered Chuck, a fly fisherman who visits every year, and his buddy from Holland, Harry.
"Have you seen the Dutch guys?" Chuck asked.
"See," I told Rene and Ton, "you are the original 'Dutch guys.' Even other Dutch guys call you the Dutch guys."
The blues were in the channel on the incoming tide. The fish were small, but it was still fun. On Sunday they returned home.
The next day I received several photos and the following account of their last night on the Vineyard. I should note that Rene and Ton spell better than the majority of the commentors to our website. This is edited only slightly.
"We are back in a cold and rainy Holland. I wish I was on the Vineyard again. Saturday I went to Menemsha. Ton was tired, you probably wore him out in the afternoon, and stayed at the house. I was convinced something was going to happen and it did! A blitz started around 9. Good sized bluefish, 10 feet from the shore and there were good bass mixed in.
"After dark, the bluefish were gone, but the stripers stayed. Around midnight and 25 fish later, I went home, completely worn out! Well, as Alex said in his own funny way: fish now, rest tomorrow.
So that was a very nice ending of my holiday. Thanks again, hope to see you next year!"
It is always interesting to know what foreigners, with the exception of the French and people from New Jersey, think about us. So I sent Rene several questions.
Please describe why you have continued to return to the Island?
"I love the silence, the people, the birds, and not to forget, Eileen's apple pies and chasing your fish!"
What is one of your most memorable Island fishing experiences?
I have had a lot by now, but being in a place where we are not supposed to be (a guy said that to us when we met him there) and seeing and hearing all those fish, gave me a special feeling. We were sent away due to trespassing, and by accident we found this place. There was dense fog for 3 days, but we caught a lot of fish. So, this is how we discovered a very secret spot."
What type of fishing do you do in Holland?
"Fishing for sea bass. Same sort as your stripers, but much smaller. But, by now commercial fishermen have completely wiped out our stocks in a just a few years. We used to have big cod here, but same story as the sea bass. Completely wiped out."
What are some of the differences between fishing in Europe and Martha's Vineyard?
"See question above. We used to have good fishing, but not any more."
What do your fellow Dutch guys and girls think about the U.S.?
"Well, difficult question, you want a political answer or just the truth. I like your country, but when I think about all that is going on in the world sometimes dictated by the U.S., then I have to close my eyes sometimes.
"One example, why are you still driving in those fuel-consuming trucks, while we have to pay a lot of money for our fuel, because your vacation has started? We have to drive 1 liter cars and this year I saw more and more 5.2 and 5.8 liter cars. Just to go to the supermarket?
And what about CO2 reduction and Kyoto, ever hear of it, Mr. Obama? That's the general opinion. By the way, sometimes it's better not think about politics and look and operate at a smaller scale."
How about President Obama?
"Well, I think he's really trying to do things for the 'normal' people, but combined forces in your country will not let that happen. I really like him, he looks good, acts nice and friendly, very different than cowboy Bush."
Do you worry about being targeted by a drone for catching too many of our fish?
"No, won't happen but, I don't not know exactly what you mean with this expression."
What do you guys do when you are not over here bothering our fish?
"Work, work and proceed with my career as a badminton coach. Hopefully, I will be present at the Olympic Games of 2020 with my pupils."
How old are you?
"51 ½ and I only have 3 ½ years to work, than I will target your fish more often!"