Gone Fishin' : Derby albie leader says perseverance is the key
When the Derby fishing gets tough, the tough Derby fishermen keep fishing. And one more thing: they eat sunflower seeds.
On Saturday morning, the wind was screaming out of the north and it was cold. It was not a morning for the fishing faint of heart in the 64th annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.
Keith McArt is a project manager for an educational software company who lives in Somerville. His family owns a seasonal house in Oak Bluffs, and in past years he had taken several weeks off to fish the whole Derby. He was married on the Vineyard two years ago.
Keith has done well for a guy who came late to the sport. In 2004, he won the shore striped bass division and was one key away from a new boat, and last year he was the shore grand slam winner, the only fisherman to catch one of each of the four Derby species from the shore.
But everything changed for Keith in the lead-up to this Derby. His wife got pregnant with their first child and the due date is October 1.
"It wasn't very good planning," Keith told me on the phone Tuesday, "but I was told it would take a lot longer to conceive than it did. I had bad intel."
I asked where he got his information. He said his wife. Hmmm. I suggested that maybe she knew a little more than she let on.
"Fortunately, I have a very understanding wife, and I was allowed to come out and fish the first week despite the proximity of the due date," he told me. "Of course, I had to agree to file a comprehensive evacuation plan in case the baby came early, since she's in Somerville and transportation off the Island isn't always a sure thing. Also, I had to agree to maintain regular contact with home base and let several other people know where I was going, which is completely contrary to any sound Derby strategy."
Based on reports of good bonito fishing, he decided to go to Lobsterville Beach. I always like to let Derby fishermen speak in their own words because they have a way of making abnormal behavior sound normal.
"So, I went up there about 2 am, and I have an old Jeep CJ 7, so going up there and sleeping in the car isn't exactly luxurious. I went up and grabbed a couple of hours of sleep and did some bass fishing around 4:30 am, just because I wasn't very comfortable, and then hit the beach about 5:45 am, and the parking lot by then was pretty much full. Guys were starting to go out on the beach."
Keith was one of many fishermen casting straight into a cold wind. "In your face, 20 to 25 easy. White caps and waves - you had to stand back because you'd get sprayed if you stood too close - weed, and despite all that, I'd say there were about 50 people there."
About 9:30 am, the fishermen started to thin out. The fish were showing very sporadically and only a few people hooked up. Most of the hard-core regulars were chatting or getting ready to leave, but Keith kept casting.
The albie hit about a foot off the beach and headed for the horizon, he said. The fish weighed 16.55 pounds (see a video clip by Wilson Kerr at mvtimes.com).
I asked Keith about why he is a successful fisherman. He referenced something Patrick Kennedy said during the funeral about sailing with his father Senator Edward.
"They were always the first out there and always the last ones to leave and he asked his dad how come they always had to spend more time on the water. And he said, 'because everyone else around us is much better and much more skilled, so we have to work harder at it.'"
Keith said when other guys are standing around he keeps casting because most of the fish he has caught were on blind casts when the fish were not showing.
The other secret to success? "Fishing with no sleep requires something to keep you awake," he said. "I chew sunflower seeds."
As I learned many years ago, wives who must carry on at home while their husbands chase fish can develop a jaundiced view of the Derby. Keith called his very pregnant wife with the news of his big fish. "That's great," she told him. "I feel nauseous and sick. And when are you coming home?"
In the past 18 years, an albie has broken the 16-pound mark only once, and that was in 2005. I asked Keith what would be more nerve-wracking, waiting for his wife to give birth or waiting to see if his albie makes it to the end of the Derby?
"If you are going to print this," Keith said, and then he laughed and wisely reconsidered what he was about to say.
"I caught a lot of fish but nothing weighable, and that just made it easy to leave," he said. "I am very excited about the baby."
Aquinnah Police pass
Derby fishermen who received a $50 parking ticket for parking in a resident only section of one of Aquinnah's town parking lots were understandably upset. That is a lot of bait money to pay to fish up-Island, particularly in the off-season when most towns stop enforcing resident-only beach restrictions.
The truth is that Aquinnah Police chief Randhi Belain is as congenial a police chief as one is likely to meet. He told me that the start of the Derby caught the department by surprise.
Last week police eased off tickets and on Tuesday Chief Belain asked the selectmen to allow the department to suspend the residency restrictions for the Derby. They agreed. "No Parking" restrictions will continue to be enforced, he said.
(Through Tuesday, September 22)
Boat bluefish: Joseph P. Canha, 13.27.
Shore bluefish: Clinton A. Fisher, 10.23.
Boat bass: Stephen J. Pietruska, 44.68.
Shore bass: Colin T. Britt, 29.22.
Boat bonito: Joe H. Turney, 9.12.
Shore bonito: Brian Gracie, 6.98.
Boat Albacore: William A. Pate, 12.66.
Shore Albacore: Keith A. McArt 16.55.
Wednesday, September 16
Boat bonito: (1) Patrick T. Jenkinson, 8.28; (2) Jeff R. Otten, 7.10; (3) Brian K. Nunes-Vais, 6.57; (4) Thomas S. Reynolds, 6.14. Shore bonito: (1) Donald R. Sicard, 6.25; (2) Neal J. Farrell, 6.24; (3) Ron Mckee, 5.97; (4) Whitney W. Moody, 5.40. Boat bluefish: (1) Tom R. Barlosky, 10.72; (2) Casey Elliston, 10.33; (3) Billy L. Sweeney, 9.54; (4) Richard Kolberger, 9.29. Shore bluefish: (1) Michael Berninger, 9.30; (2) Eric BenDavid, 8.19; (3) Stanley W. Brown, 6.48; (4) John A. Kallel, 5.50. Boat bass: (1) Stan Lasinski, 23.40; (2) Evan Metropoulos, 40.84; (3) Charles W. Wendel, 19.99. Shore bass: (1) Jared Stobie, 24.60; (2) David Balon, 23.96; (3) Matthew Gamache, 17.08; (4) Daniel C. Ferry, 12.29.
Fly Rod Division
Boat bonito: (1) Brian K. Nunes-Vais, 5.17. Boat bluefish: (1) Brian K. Nunes-Vais, 4.15.
Shore bluefish: (1) Tristan R. Blair, 4.27.
Thursday, September 17
Boat bonito: (1) Jeffrey O. Day, 6.59. Shore bonito: (1) Susan V. Roberts, 4.08; (2) Maryann Angelone, 3.92; (3) Karen A. Kukolich, 3.92. Boat bluefish: (1) James W. LePore, 9.07; (2) Bob S. Levine, 8.89; (3) Gary R. Look, 8.75; (4) Jeff R. Otten, 7.40. Shore bluefish: (1) John A. Kallel, 8.05; (2) Charlie G. Canfield, 7.39; (3) Neal J. Farrell, 4.02; (4) Dick A. Adams, 3.64. Shore bass: (1) Patricia M. Moreis, 19.37; (2) Stephen F. Amaral, 16.21; (3) Brian Adams, 15.83; (4) Tom R. Barlosky, 13.17.
Fly Rod Division
Boat bluefish: (1) Paul W. Dimaura, 8.68; (2) Thomas J. Rapone, 8.02.
Boat bluefish: (1) Brendan R. Morris, 9.33.
Friday, September 18
Boat bonito: (1) William Pappastratis, 5.88. Shore bonito: (1) David F. Matrullo, 5.73. Boat bluefish: (1) Tara J. Levine, 8.16; (2) Stephen J. Fiedrich, 7.96; (3) Amanda L. McIntosh, 6.87; (4) Jordan Baptiste, 6.62. Shore bluefish: (1) Ralph J. Peckham, 9.14; (2) John A. Kallel, 7.24; (3) Peter Sliwkowski, 5.18. Boat bass: (1) Sean McNamee, 23.59. Shore bass: (1) Amy M. Lima, 19.41; (2) Ron Mckee, 17.98; (3) Robert F. Trosset, 15.19. Shore bluefish: (1) Brendan R. Morris, 8.84.
Saturday, September 19
Boat bonito: (1) Matthew F. Mayhew, 7.22; (2) Evan Hammond, 6.32; (3) Debbie J. Manley, 6.19; (4) Nils Leaf. Boat bluefish: (1) Bill N. Potter, 11.23; (2) James H. Taggart, 10.97; (3) Helena A. Kirschenbaum, 10.36; (4) Richard F. Pytko, 9.85. Shore bluefish: (1) John Hathaway, 8.41; (2) Sarah Morse, 8.33. Boat bass: (1) Lynne Silva, 23.22; (2) Stephen J. Pietruska, 25.99; (3) Paul Medeiros, 13.46. Shore bass: (1) Michael A. Syslo, 19.08; (2) Michael L. Wood, 14.88; (3) Steve Coito, 14.55; (4) John A. Kallel, 12.32.
Boat bonito: (1) William C. Kadison, 7.48; (2) Christopher A. Mayhew, 6.87; (3) Dylan Kadison, 6.67; (4) Maggie A. Mayhew, 4.92. Boat bluefish: (1) Donald F. O'Shaughnessey, Jr., 10.28; (2) Tony P. Canha, 9.30; (3) Quinn L. Cobban, 5.87; (4) Max Potter, 3.63. Shore bass: (1) Curtis J. Farrell, 17.71.
Sunday, September 20
Boat bonito: (1) Maryann Nunes-Vais, 6.50; (2) Craig P. Kalucki, 6.22; (3) Charles E. Sylvia, 6.08; (4) Evan Hammond, 5.94. Boat bluefish: (1) Tom Norbury, 12.62; (2) Ron R. Drake, 11.88; (3) Michael A. Araujo, 11.79; (4) Robert M. Ryan, 11.12. Shore bluefish: (1) Joseph J. Abromiatis, 9.51; (2) Claudius L. Agard, 9.09; (3) Sarah L. Shriber, 8.49; (4) Lee T. Panzica, 8.35. Boat bass: (1) Charles P. Finnerty, 30.18; (2) Michael A. Paone, 22.07; (3) Beverly A. Bergeron, 20.46; (4) Jorge J. Silveira, 19.58. Shore bass: (1) Kenneth A. Barwick, 23.82; (2) Ray M. Rapino, 19.51; (3) Paul Bradshaw, 15.32; (4) Edward J. Jerome, 11.64.
Striped bass: (1) Paul W. Dimaura, 16.64. Shore bass: Herbert C. Tilton, III, 13.42.
Boat bonito: (1) Tegan M. Fenner, 5.15; (2) Mike B. Metcalf, 5.95; (3) Brendan R. Morris, 5.25. Boat bluefish: (1) Nolan Bouchard, 9.92; (2) Quinn L. Cobban, 8.41; (3) Brodie Twadelle, 7.66; (4) Brendan R. Morris, 9.33. Boat bass: (1) Elizabeth S. O'Brien, 11.78; (2) Giovanni M. Paone, 12.10.
Monday, September 21
Boat bonito: (1) Joe H. Turney, 9.12; (2) Roy G. Meekins, 6.71; (3) Nathan A. Larsen, 6.55; (4) Michael Bigby, 6.26. Shore bonito: (1) Morgan T. Taylor, 5.82. Boat bluefish: (1) Everett J. Francis, 12.09; (2) Tom Norbury, 12.89; (3) Norman E. Bouchard, Jr., 11.03; (4) Stan Wasserman, 10.89. Shore bluefish: (1) Winslow H. Crocker, Jr., 9.01; (2) Edward J. Jerome, 7.28; (3) Ron Domurat, 6.52. Boat bass: (1) Christopher K. Shipps, 29.01; (2) John A. Kelley, 23.21; (3) Ken W. Bailey, 20.28; (4) Charles W. Wendel, 18.43. Shore bass: (1) George P. Moran, 27.70; (2) Jim S. Fraser, 22.58; (3) Janet Messineo, 17.75; (4) Bradley Howell, 14.18.
Fly Rod Division
Boat bonito: (1) Bob W. Hayman, 4.33. Boat bluefish: (1) Tom M. O'Hanlon, 4.64. Boat bass: (1) Joe A. Dart, 16.59.
Boat bonito: (1) Tyla D. Packish, 4.08. Boat bluefish: (1) Gus N. Hoy, 5.84; (2) Nolan Bouchard, 7.68; (3) Tyla D. Packish, 4.27.
Tuesday, September 22
Boat bonito: (1) Harry Beach, Jr., 8.25; (2) Ursula G. Kreskey, 6.77; (3) Mark L. Howell, 6.72; (4) Dale Cheerney, 6.12. Shore bonito: (1) Brian Gracie, 6.98; (2) Carig P. Salvaggio, 6.35; (3) Michael L. Seeger, 5.12; (4) Morgan T. Taylor, 5.55. Boat bluefish: (1) Ryan Murtha, 11.60; (2) Paul F. Porter, 11.43; (3) Jim Gomes, 11.02; (4) John P. Malcouronne, 10.42. Shore bluefish: (1) Scott P. Canavan, Sr., 8.44; (2) Herbert C. Tilton, III, 8.09; (3) Clinton A. Fisher, 9.44; (4) Ben J. Gunn, 7.96. Boat bass: (1) Richard T. Sylva, 33.44; (2) Zeb A. Tilton, 26.61; (3) Julian Borges, 25.96; (4) Keith D. Stevens, 24.27. Shore bass: (1) Ryan Kurth, 26.63; (2) Dana A. Rezendes, 23.86; (3) Tony H. Rezendes, Jr., 20.13; (4) Cole Powers, Sr., 19.15.
Fly Rod Division
Boat bonito: (1) Brian K. Nunes-Vais, 5.67. Shore bonito: (1) W. Brice Contessa, 6.38.
Boat bonito: (1) Maggie Nixon, 5.32. Shore bonito: Evandro Medici, Jr., 4.45. Boat bluefish: (1) Victoria Scott, 10.45; (2) Tyla D. Packish, 3.17; (3) Nolan Bouchard, 10.20. Boat bass: (1) Brendan R. Morris, 21.80; (2) Jack E. Nixon, 17.17; (3) Jack W. Hewitt, 15.92; (4) Nolan Bouchard, 15.44.