Gone Fishin' : Obama bump? I'll take bonito, albies and bass bumps
The visit of President Barack Obama and his family will provide a significant boost to the Island's economy is the mantra. I have my doubts.
Are Secret Service agents and White House staffers big spenders? I think not. Do members of the world news media arriving here to report on every bit of gripping vacation minutia spend like drunken sailors (or is that Democrats these days)? Ha, not a chance.
As near as I can tell, beyond those folks there will be no visitor bump. In fact, some people might wish to avoid the hoopla and sense of rapture sure to sweep the Vineyard.
It could be different. Real estate could begin to move and visitors with cash to spend would arrive in droves if schools of bonito, false albacore, and striped bass would visit Martha's Vineyard in larger numbers than they have.
I never met anybody who told me he or she purchased a house on Martha's Vineyard because Bill and Hillary Clinton visited the Island (Okay, I do not know Ted and Mary). But I know lots of people who moved here because the fishing was very good.
News of a presidential visit might attract day-trippers. You know them. Those are the folks who spend vacation time in New York City holding up a dumb sign outside a morning news-talk-inane chatter show and squeal when they get 15 seconds of face time with a well coifed weatherman-talking head.
News of a bonito blitz would attract fly fishermen. Women and men who drop thousands in pursuit of a $15 fillet with fins and then let the fillet go but drop big bucks later that night for a fish dinner in an Island restaurant.
If word got out that the albies were surrounding Martha's Vineyard, rentals would soar. The inns would be filled and the Island would be busy.
Fishermen spend money on two things: fishing and spousal make ups for fishing and missing important events (or legal costs associated with the failure to spend on make ups).
A good fall striped bass run could keep the Vineyard in visitors through October. And that does not count the several thousand Derby entrants.
The abundance of excellent recreational saltwater fishing opportunities in Island waters provides a significant seasonal boost to the Martha's Vineyard economy. Good fishing attracts fishermen and they spend money.
That was true in the days of the Squibnocket Bass Club back in the 19th century and it is true today.
The dollars fishermen spend on the Vineyard are part of a stream that flows into the national economy as a whole. According to a recent study issued by NOAA's Fisheries Service (www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/st5/index.html), in 2006 recreational saltwater anglers pumped more than $31 billion into the U.S. economy, with Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana and North Carolina receiving the largest share.
It will be interesting to gauge the effect of the President's visit on the Vineyard economy. But I would put my money on the fish if they arrive.
Wildlife board update
The seven-member Massachusetts Fisheries And Wildlife Board oversees the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) and sets regulations in accordance with state law and Federal guidelines.
On July 28 the board unanimously voted "to prohibit the use of lead sinkers, lead weights, and lead fishing jigs with a mass of less than 1 ounce in the inland waters of Massachusetts." The new law will not take effect until 2012.
Of more immediate concern to Island waterfowlers and shellfishermen (I will explain the connection) is an upcoming public hearing and vote on August 27 to establish seasons and bag limits for the 2009-10 migratory game bird seasons.
The state provides an early season goose hunt designed to reduce the population of non-migratory geese. These are birds that have decided they would prefer to stay put and get fat than fly long distances.
Large flocks of resident geese are responsible for fouling the Island's playing fields and ponds. These include Sengekontacket Pond, which is closed to shellfishing this summer due to high fecal coliform counts.
Islanders are able to shoot up to seven geese daily in the early September season. The bag limit falls to two birds in the regular duck season.
The bag limit rises again during the late Canada goose season that runs from mid-January to mid-February. Mid-winter, when seasonal residents are gone, is the perfect time for Vineyard hunters to help reduce the burgeoning flocks of geese.
However, the Vineyard has been left out of the late season for a number of years because the Feds say that the Island is a stopping place for a migratory population of geese whose numbers are down. That may be true but it seems to me that the resident geese we see in large numbers far exceed any visitors.
Allowing hunters a late Island goose season might be part of the solution to reopening Sengekontacket to summer clamming. The Wildlife Board's hands are tied as long as the Feds refuse to allow some flexibility.
Public comment may be sent to mass.wildlife @state.ma.us.
Fluke season is closed
The recreational fluke season closes today. No more fluke. I know it will not affect me. My season never really began. It is time to think about bonito and albies.
Trip Goff from North Carolina (left) and his cousin Gordon Moore of Oak Bluffs, both 12 years of age, hold bluefish, part of Monday's catch. The boys also caught black sea bass, fluke and lost a false albacore 10 feet off the bow of the boat in waters off Oak Bluffs (You heard me right).
Gordon's dad Andrew, who knows a thing of two about false albacore judging by his Derby awards, said the albie swam at the boat, "an old but useful trick, before saying a quick hello at boatside, returning our lure and bolting off towards Woods Hole."