The fishing grapevine was buzzing this week with word of a home economics teacher from New York landing a 51-pound halibut.
Ann Frederick and her daughter Charlotte Bloom, from New Paltz, N.Y., come to the Vineyard every summer with a singular goal — to fish as much as possible. They sometimes go out with Island fisherman Donnie Benefit, who met them gearing up at Coop’s Bait & Tackle a few years ago and offered to take them out on his boat.
Ann was cod fishing with Benefit and Cooper “Coop” Gilkes last week when she landed the fat flatfish. Atlantic halibut tend to range from southwestern Greenland to Maine. They’re extremely rare in waters off the Cape and Islands.
“I couldn’t believe it when that thing came up,” Coop said. “The last halibut I caught was off of Isle of Shoals, 40 years ago.”
Benefit said the huge halibut was caught on a “giant fluke rig.”
He also made an impressive catch this past week, landing a 52-pound tilefish while fishing with Coop.
Overall, shore fishing has slowed, as is typical for the dog days. Blues are few and far between, but the sharks are still slamming off Chappy. While stripers slowed, Jeff Canha, captain of Done Deal charters, said they showed up in big numbers one night last week in Vineyard Haven Harbor, where he keeps his floating art studio. “The water was teeming with silversides,” he said. “I thought I was hearing heavy rain at first. When the bass showed up, I heard a splash like someone fell in. The water was boiling with big fish. It was incredible.”
Coop concurred on the bountiful bait.
“There’s a lot of silversides, bunker and sand eels out there,” he said.
“I haven’t seen bait like this in years. Hopefully that means we’ll have a good Derby, as long as we don’t have a line of storms come through like we did last year.”
Kurt Freund, captain of Fishsticks Charters, said two out of three trips to the Hooter this week produced bonito, both casting and trolling. “We also had some spectacular action with breaking bluefish out on L’Hommedieu shoal and off West Chop,” he said.
Reports of false albacore — always the last of the four Derby Grand Slam fish to arrive — are coming in.
Coop reported seeing albies off Cape Poge Light and West Chop. Steve Morris, owner of Dick’s Bait and Tackle, said he’s also had reports of boaters getting into albies. A one-ounce, green Deadly Dick is the lure du jour for albies and bonito.