For one young fisherman, an early alarm clock says, I love you

Lobsterville Beach is always a popular fishing spot in the catch and release tournament. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Sunday is Father’s Day. The date is a get-out-of-chores card. My guess is that many dads will decide to go fishing with a son or daughter. It will be time well spent.

In my cellar is a movie projector and a box that holds numerous reels of 8 millimeter home movies. On one reel is a fishing trip captured in time, my sister and I catching sunfish under a small bridge, much to the delight of my beaming dad.

Many nights, when the fishing is slow and the dark sky is lit with stars, I think of my father and thank him for taking me fishing.

In anticipation of Father’s Day, I invited readers to share stories of fishing with dad. Twins Alexis Condon and Mackenzie Condon, 11, of Edgartown sent the following stories about fishing in the spring kids trout derby with their dad Fred Condon.

A delightful Derby day with dad

Beep! beep! beep! went the first alarm clock I had set the night before. I rubbed my eyes, blinked a couple times and hopped out of the warm cozy bed. My twin sister and my friend were still sleeping.

Quietly, I slipped on my fishing clothes that consisted of my cozy jeans, a pink and gray striped shirt, a black sweater, and a navy coat. Brushing my hair, I watched Mackenzie, my twin, and Addy, my friend. My dad had set his own alarm, and I knew he was going to awake any moment. I had set the first alarm, for 2:50 am, so I could have a little extra time in case anything went wrong.

Our plan? Well, that’s simple. We would have to rise and shine at 3 am, eat breakfast at 3:25, start driving to Duarte’s Pond no later than 3:40, and of course, attempt to take my rival’s lucky spot at 4 am.

Buckling up our seat belts, we waved goodbye to the house looming in front of us. She waved back and whispered well wishes and good luck. The competition had officially started, and I discussed further plans with my accomplice, my loving and dedicated father.

I was still shocked that he had willingly agreed to take us to the pond at 3:40. After he had consumed his coffee, he started making some pretty bad jokes. This is what my family called his morning humor.

Flickering lights guided our path, and we walked with the twigs snapping underneath our feet. My dad was careful to make sure we didn’t get tangled with all the plants. Excited squeals were released as we discovered the hot spot was not taken.

The grand spot besides the dock was a favorite, as the timid trout felt protected and secure under it. We set up our poles and soon enough it was time to start fishing. It was 5:30 and the sun was starting to peek out from the horizon. My dad sat down in the chair he brought, relieved to be finished with set-up.

My dad grabbed a slimy, sparkly rainbow bait from the small cylinder and showed me how to bait my pole. He showed me how to slide the slimy lump down the line, and how to secure it on the hook. He really knew his stuff.

A couple hours later, my dad chimed, “Alexis! Fish on! Hurriedly, I charged towards the pole, swallowed the rest of my donut, and starting reeling. My dad told me to reel consistently, and not too fast. He took the pole and showed me exactly what to do. He was almost as excited as I was. After a long fight, the fish was exhausted and I was excited. With the net I borrowed from Coop, I hauled the heavy trout in. The rainbow trout measured 20.5 inches!

After the awards ceremony had finished and I had accepted my first-place trophy, my father embraced me in a big bear hug. “I’m so proud of you!” He gleefully exclaimed.

I was glad early rising was worth it, and I was even gladder that my dad had gone through all this trouble just for me. I appreciate him lots, and I wouldn’t have even been able to go fishing without him. I am grateful for him, and everything he does for me. Sometimes, if a person wakes up at 3 am for you, you can really tell that he (or she) loves you.

Fishing With Dad

The sun lay on the horizon as if the light blue sky were the sun’s bed and the clouds were the pillows. The sun was tucked away but was slowly peeking out. Some people were just arriving, others, like my family, had been here for hours. It was the 2011 Annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Kids Trout Derby and I was 8!

Coop had just announced it was okay to start fishing. My dad told me we were going to cast the rod into the water so he put rainbow bait on and showed me what to do. Then he helped me cast it to the middle of the pond. I was overjoyed when I saw how far it had gone. My dad told me what I would have to do if a fish bit the line and how to reel it in. With every single word he said I got more excited to reel in a fish.

After waiting for a little bit the memorable moment came. My line rapidly became tight and then I knew. My dad told me to count to three so it could become hooked and after I counted he told me to reel it in. He put his hand over mine and helped me reel it in. I saw the shimmery silver fish for a split second as it reached the top of the pond. My heart was pounding like a race horse’s hooves rhythmically hitting the ground.

My dad unhooked the needle and I then held it and was very proud. I ran to get it measured – it was 14.5 inches long – and then I darted back to the pond to let it live. I was not able to explain how happy I was. To me the fish seemed colossal! I got second place in my division, the fish that beat me was just one inch bigger. But to me that did not matter. All that mattered was the spectacular experience I had shared with my dad. Looking back; the trophies will be forgotten, but the stories and experiences will forever be remembered!

A few good fishermen wanted

Members of the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association will travel to Nantucket the weekend of June 21 to compete against their sandbar counterparts in the 6th annual “Island Cup” catch and release surfcasting tournament.

The tournament is mostly about camaraderie and fun, an opportunity to fish new beaches, and bragging rights. Each Vineyarder is paired up with a Nantucketer and the contest is decided by total weight of each fish verified by the host partner — fishing stories require no verification.

The Vineyarders, the defending champs, need a few good fishermen to help fill out their roster. If you would like to help carry the Vineyard banner, please give team coach Victor Colantonio a call at 617-413-6140 or email him at

Orvis Day is Friday

Coop’s will host Orvis Day from 11 am to 3 pm, this Friday. It is the shop’s annual prelude to the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament that kicks off 7 pm, Saturday night.

Orvis reps from the famed outdoor company in Vermont will be available to answer questions, demonstrate casting techniques, show off the latest gear and provide valuable fishing tips. Enter your name for a rod in a random drawing that afternoon.

Coop’s is located off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road just outside of Edgartown next to Cottle’s. Call 508-627-3909 for more information.

Catch and Release

Every winter, Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club president Bob DeLisle asks the catch and release tournament committee — that would be Coop and me — to pick a date for the contest.

Each year for the past 21 years, Coop and I would mull moon and tide information to make our best guess of when the fishing would be best. Judging by past results it is a good thing we are not in the business of picking stocks.

But this year, I think we may have hit the date right. The weather is supposed to be good and the striped bass fishing has been pretty good. I am optimistic fishermen in the 22nd annual tournament will find fish.

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 per team member.

The first cast cannot be made until 7 pm Saturday, and fishing must stop at exactly 2 am, Sunday.

The club hosts a breakfast in the high school cafeteria Sunday morning followed by an awards ceremony at 9:30 am.

The entry fee is $35. For tournament information or to contribute prizes, contact Cooper Gilkes at 508-627-3909. Sign up Saturday afternoon, June 15, at the high school.