Each season there are lessons to learn and relearn

Tre Wullschleger of Nantucket, an island made of sand, experienced fishing from a boulder during the contest. — Photo courtesy of Victor Colantonio

Each fishing season, I do something that prompts me to think that by now I should know better. And I should, but I don’t, so I share the following brief tales in the hopes readers will learn by my mistakes even if I do not.

A week ago Saturday, I launched my 18-foot Tashmoo skiff at the Lagoon launch ramp with plans to fish for sea bass off East Chop. I backed my trailer down the ramp, tied off my bow line, and unhooked the chain and winch strap.

Now I have a system for launching by myself that consists of a series of quick starts and stops. I watched my boat glide off the trailer and float alongside the dock.

I thought to myself, “Maybe I should get out of the truck and check the line before I park.” And what do you think I did?

Needless to say, I parked the truck and walked over to the dock expecting to climb into my boat, but it was slowly drifting away. I whistled and waved wildly to a gentleman who had just pulled away from the dock. He looked back. I pointed to the boat. He kept going, unaware what it was I was flapping my arms about.

Luckily, a fisherman was just making his way through the mooring field to the dock. He retrieved my boat and I went on my way.

I found lots of small blues off East Chop and at Hedge Fence. So I switched plans and broke out the light spinning tackle.

I caught a few fish. Then my braid snapped. It was fresh braid recently replaced after my older braid line snapped — twice.

So I rigged up my fluke rod with a fluke rig I could troll and began trolling for blues. I caught enough fish for my smoker.

On Sunday, I invited a visiting friend to go flyfishing on the north shore. I wanted to show him a unique Island location reached by a long dirt road. I mounted the two fly rods on my set of magnetic carriers attached to the hood and the roof.

The wind, which was forecasted to drop, never did, and we were unable to fish. On the ride back there were a number of low hanging branches, but we were talking and I did not pay much attention.

The next morning I went to take my fly rod off my truck. Imagine my surprise when I saw a bare spool — no fly line, no backing, several hundred yards of line gone.

I quickly returned to the road to clean up the mess I left behind. I found my line draped along it.

Lessons learned: Always listen to the little voice; learn how to properly tie a dock line; when braid snaps several times, do not retie, check your rod tip. The guide is likely chipped, cracked or rough and is fraying the braid. And when passing under low-hanging branches, pay attention to the rod tips.

Martha’s Vineyard is top rod

The Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters “soundly” defeated the Nantucket Anglers’ Club in the 5th annual Island Cup fishing contest, according to a report Surfcasters president Victor Colontanio provided.

Martha’s Vineyard scored 132.4 pounds versus Nantucket’s 71.1 pounds. “The contest is designed around a competitive angling experience as a venue to build friendships between the islands,” Victor said in the email account that follows.

“The high scorers were Jon Cornwell of Edgartown and Rhode Island, who landed a 9.5-pound bluefish, and Jason Graves of Edgartown, who beached a 29-pound bass. In this catch-and-release contest, each angler counts only the largest bass and bluefish toward the team total.

“The bluefishing was hot along East Beach on Chappaquiddick all weekend, and the north shore produced the largest bass. Anglers from both sides finished the 42-hour contest with plenty of fish, sore arms, and tired feet.”

The contest ended with a Saturday cookout at the home of Jim and Denise Fraser for fishermen and spouses, “scheduled so as to have minimum impact on ideal fishing tides.”

Fishing for Vineyard were captain Victor Colantonio, Jon Cornwell, Jim Cornwell, Jason Graves, John Piekos, Joel Graves, Jim Mullen, Janet Messineo, Peter Sliwkowski, Steve Tirrell, Jim Fraser, and Bob “Hawkeye” Jacobs.

In the Nantucket corner we had captain Scott Whitlock, William M. Pollock, Sylvia Lussier, Campbell Sutton, Harry Ostrander, Peter Krogh, Jay Fitzgibbons, David Dauphinee, Bob Virta, Tre Wullschleger, Peter Farrell, and George Williams.

The weekend was not without moments of humor and fun, Victor said.

“As a diversion from a steady diet of casting and retrieving, Janet Messineo took Campbell Sutton and Sylvia Lussier ‘horseback riding.’ Janet snagged four brass rings, Campbell two, and Sylvia one at the Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs.”

The annual good sportsmanship award went to George Williams of Nantucket. Here is the story: About 11 pm, Jim Fraser set George on the north shore at a spot between rocks noted to hold large bass. George made a few casts and hooked a monster bass that turned out to be weed on the backside of a submerged boulder.

He reeled fast and furious, tugging and back-peddling to the beach, but couldn’t budge the “bass” from its position. In short order, he had produced not a monster fish but a monster bird’s nest of braided line surrounding his reel, his rod, and climbing halfway up his elbow.

Jim, who obviously picked up some skills from his surgeon wife, eventually extracted George from his handiwork. All agreed that the reel qualified for a new category in the Guinness Book of Records — a world class mess.

Bass Battle

The results are in from Larry’s “Bass Battle” striper contest held though June. A total of 46 fisherman entered the fray. The first place winners won just under $300 each.

Shore: 1.Jason Graves, 29.35; 2. Benny “the Kid” Syslo, 22.20; 3. Paul Cotton, 20.35.

Boat: 1. Stephan “203” Pond 42.95; 2. Johnny Hoy, 37.70; 3. Chuck “Vendell” Wendell, 27.70.

VFW fluke derby arrives

The Martha’s Vineyard Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post 9261 annual fluke derby is Saturday and Sunday. This is the 13th annual event.

This is not the Olympics. There are no corporate sponsors or tents. It is very much an Island contest supported by Islanders, and everyone is welcome.

It is “pound for the ground” fishing. Men, women and kids pound the bottom with lead weights and strips, of squid with the hope that a big fluke, also known as summer flounder, will strike.

The awards banquet finishes with burgers, dogs, and a cold one at the unpretentious VFW hall in Oak Bluffs.

Organizing any fishing tournament is no easy job. VFW member and fluke impressario Peter Hermann is responsible for providing Islanders and seasonal fishermen in the know with a fun time.

The tournament also awards a prize for the heaviest sea bass.

Fluke tournament weigh-in is from 4 to 6 pm each day. The Sunday cookout begins about 5:30 pm.

The entry fee is $20 for adults, and $10 for seniors over 65 and teens between 13 and 17. Kids 12 and under are free. In addition to the individual contest, there is a team competition based on the four heaviest fish weighed in each day. Team registration costs $20. Registration forms are available at most Island tackle shops.

For more information, to donate prizes, or in the event of weather cancellations, call derby director Peter Hermann at 774-563-0293.

Time to be considerate

Parking is limited at the Lagoon Pond launch ramp. Please double up vehicles, do not store boats and trailers, and prepare your boat before you back down to the ramp.