Safety net  

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One of the best things I have found through my experiences fishing is a sense of community. It is rare that I head out fishing without running into a stranger with a fishing pole and striking up a conversation. Some of these interactions are just chance encounters with a person from out of town, or a local I have seen around the Island. Others lead to real friendships, but either way, as a fisherman, you are rarely alone out there.

Those of us who fish regularly are all guilty of heading out by ourselves from time to time. Sometimes it’s the perfect tide, and none of your fishing buddies are available. Sometimes you just need a break from everything, and standing on the water alone watching the sunset is the perfect way to ground yourself. But it’s important to remember that fishing with other people is not just about camaraderie; it’s a safety net. I might not even speak to the friend I showed up with for over an hour, but it’s good just knowing they are there there, and that we’re there for each other.

Last week I was out fishing a secluded stretch of beach with a couple of friends. When we arrived, there was only one other person within sight. The stranger eventually meandered over to us to have the typical fisherman-to-fisherman conversation: Have you had any luck? Where are you from? etc. He stood with us for awhile, then headed down the beach a ways to continue fishing, as the bass were starting to arrive.

We carried on, ditching our hard plastic lures for some soft plastics to emulate sand eels — always adapting to what the fish are feeding on. One after the other, we were all hooking up on big fish. My friend Oraibi Voumard had caught his limit, and walked over to cheer me on as I had just hooked up on something substantial. The fight had just begun when we heard a loud call for help. Oraibi ran down the beach to assist the gentleman we had been speaking with earlier. It was dusk, and though you couldn’t see much, it was obvious the man was lying on the beach with his feet in the water. As it turns out, this intrepid fisherman had recently had back surgery, and decided to head out by himself for the evening. Still a bit compromised by the surgery, he was unsteady on the sand, and fell. Oraibi helped him back to his feet, escorted him to his car, and made sure he was settled before returning to our fishing spot. It was a scary moment for all of us, and we were glad to have been there.

Even if you are going out to a relatively safe and popular area, it is paramount that you are protected. Fishing with friends is not only a great way to bond, it’s an insurance policy. Unpredictable things happen on the water all the time, and I can’t say I will never head out by myself again, but I will always be sure someone is around.

Reports from the water
We’re in the thick of the summer, and while I haven’t had the chance to fish every single day, the fishing I have done from shore is getting a little trickier. Doug from Dick’s Bait and Tackle reports that small fluke were caught this weekend from shore off State Beach, while the bigger fluke were all caught from boats. Sea bass could be found off the north shore in deeper water, with smaller fish near Middle Ground. Doug also mentioned that bluefish have been seen all around the Aquinnah coast. Though I am hearing mention of big striped bass being caught from shore, it is mostly with live bait. I heard through the grapevine that a 40-pound striper was caught on the north shore this weekend, using a live eel. Shark fishing has been good from Norton Point to Cape Poge. I witnessed three sand sharks get reeled in, in quick succession, at Norton Point on Sunday.

The Fluke for Luke fishing derby, an annual fishing event to honor the memory of Luke Gurney, who tragically died while working as a commercial conch fisherman, was held this past weekend. Proceeds benefit the Gurney family, including a scholarship fund for his two sons, Jacob and Samuel. The event is a true testament to the camaraderie of our fishing community and the relationships we form over our love of the water. Over 400 people signed up for the tournament, and many Island businesses donated to the auction. While I wasn’t able to participate, I wanted to share the results:

 

Winners
Adult fluke: Tom Taylor, 11.29 pounds
Junior fluke: Eben Solway, 4.53 pounds
Sea bass: David Flanders, 5.14 pounds
Junior sea bass: Ben Kokoszka, 5.13 pounds
Team: Payback, 37.51 pounds total

Gavin Smith began fishing when he moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 2014. He is a self-admitted novice, but a truly avid one, eager to learn and share as much as he can. Gavin is a private chef and passionate foodie who appreciates the bounty that Vineyard waters provide, and likes nothing more than sharing his passion with his clients. He’ll be a regular contributor to the Fishing Report.