Striped bass, bluefish, fluke, scup, anyone? Can you hear me now? My new phone is sleeping with the fishes, but I have not given up hope. I begin every new fishing season on Martha’s Vineyard as an optimist — a one more cast kind of guy.
Early last fall, I was faced with one of the most critical questions modern man faces in this age of 24/7 wireless communication. It was time to choose a new cell phone.
My simple, uncomplicated flip phone had expired. But I was not interested in a so-called “smart phone,” and the ability to text, tweet, or email.
I do not want to watch TV or videos or play games on my phone, or receive alerts. Generally, if I carry my phone outside the office or home, my needs are simple. During the fishing season I need to be able to ask my friends where the fish are, and in the hunting season I need to be able to call for help to drag a deer out of the woods.
There are not a lot of options in the simple, flip-phone category. I chose an AT&T Samsung Rugby. It seemed to fit my needs well. It is waterproof and could survive a drop from a tree stand, or so Samsung said.
It was a little expensive. $100 and a new plan. But I assured my wife, Norma, that the waterproof feature was handy. I should have asked about a flotation plan.
Last week, I was fishing at West Chop. There were several of us and the fishing was slow. A few small stripers, far fewer fish than we might reasonably expect this time of the year.
I cast a 7-inch purple Sluggo. The strike caught me by surprise. Battling the fish on a light St. Croix rod, I was forced to walk up the beach until I could force the striper to shore. It was just about 30 inches long, a perfect size to take home for dinner.
The next morning, before I left the house I looked for my cell phone. Not finding it, I did what any man would do: I blamed my wife. Since we share one phone, I assumed she had picked it up when she left the house to make the rounds of Island nurseries. I was wrong.
I went though the pocket ritual, the car ritual, the kitchen table landfill ritual. It was nowhere to be found. Then I remembered leaning over in the water to wash the sand off my fish before I left the beach.
But my phone was waterproof. Surely, it would still be good. I retraced my steps carefully. I waded at the water’s edge — I found that a lot of flat, black stones resemble Samsung cell phones when viewed in about one foot of water.
I remain hopeful that my phone will eventually wash up. I can’t wait to check out just how waterproof it is.
I did find one item of interest. A shiny, empty can of Red Bull that was not on the beach the prior evening.
Plovers do not drink Red Bull. Bird watchers and beach strollers do not drink Red Bull. Fishermen who have worked all day and then want to bass fish at night drink Red Bull.
I am going to extend the benefit of the doubt and guess that the can was accidentally left behind, or fell out of a backpack. I want to think that the fisherman was not so ignorant that he would leave the sort of trash that prompts people to erect no trespassing signs.
I picked up the can. If the person who left it would like to claim his deposit, I would be happy to meet with him and hand over a nickel.
Bluefish have arrived. About two weeks ago, Tom Robinson and I made a visit to State Beach at the bend-in-the-road. Slicks, the oily sheen blues leave while feeding, were visible a few hundred yards off the beach. Two people were hooked up.
Tom cast a yellow popper. He was soon hooked to a nice-sized bluefish. Over the weekend, Tom took a trip to Chappy. Blues were along East Beach and in Cape Poge, he reported.
Chappy is one of the prettiest spots to fish. And four-wheel drive is not required. The Trustees of Reservations provides access at Dike Bridge. And the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank provides public access to Cape Poge gut from North Neck.
This is a great time to fish from shore. Blues are hard fighters and eagerly strike a surface plug. The critical piece of equipment when fishing for blues is a pair of pliers.
Bass reports are a little harder to come by this time of the year. Fishermen tend to be more guarded about where they are catching fish. There are stripers around, just not some of the big fish we have seen arrive early the past few years.
Coop at Coop’s in Edgartown told me he heard reports from New Jersey that a “big slug” of larger fish may be heading our way. I hope so.
Fishermen planning to head out this weekend may want to consider entering Dick’s Bait & Tackle 21st Annual Memorial Day Weekend Derby.
Bragging rights and cash prizes based on the number of entrants go to the top finishers in the bluefish and striped bass shore and boat categories. Remember, bass must be at least 32 inches long to weigh in.
The cost to enter is $30. Call 508-693-7669 for more information or go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tune in Monday night
Many Island fishermen are familiar with the annual visit of wounded soldiers to the Island in the fall to fish the Derby. That fishing trip and the resilience of the men and women in uniform battling back from injury are the subjects of “American Heroes Fishing Challenge,” a National Geographic documentary produced by Vineyard seasonal residents Bob and Sarah Nixon and Todd Wendel that has its television premiere at 10 pm, Monday, Memorial Day, on the National Geographic Channel.