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Martha's Vineyard Times is a weekly publication.
July 14 - July 20, 2005 Edition
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Fishermen run afoul of property owner
July 14, 2005
I could see the
tops of the caterpillar-mauled trees around my house swaying in the
northwest wind even without any leaves. Saturday was not looking like
a good day to take my boat out into Vineyard Sound in search of a
winning fluke in the VFW Fluke Derby.
First-place winning team member Jim Cornwell holds up the
prize envelope along with one of the coveted "Monarchs
of the Deep," prize T-shirts.
Amaral, the dethroned fluke king, holds a downsized net presented
to him at the awards ceremony Sunday.
Fluke Derby winners (left to right): Jeff Tomkins, Dylan Doty,
Denise Fraser, and Brian Fraser.
I called Ned Casey, out fishing with Eamonn Solway, on his cell phone
for a realistic assessment. The fishermen were bobbing off Robinsons
Hole in the Elizabeths.
Ned said conditions were tough. I was not about to risk the trip in
my 18 foot Tashmoo, a rugged but very wet center console that requires
full foul weather gear under breezy conditions.
Figuring that fishing is as much about luck as location, I decided
to put in at the Lagoon launch ramp and fish off East Chop. It is
a location that has produced a state Derby-winning fish.
I could manage nothing beyond a few small fluke. Out where the waves
and the fish were big, the Sole Men, also known as the flukettes,
were doing their best to match their big talk with some big fluke.
Mike Amaral, the fluke king, was trying to hold onto his stomach,
no small feat.
But pride goeth before the fall. In the end the Sole Men would come
up short, third place to be exact.
My decision Saturday not to try Vineyard Sound seemed very smart.
By the time I decided to call it quits the tide had started falling
and the wind had increased. My short journey through the very turbulent
waters of East Chop and Vineyard Haven harbor provided quite enough
of a thrill.
Sunday the weather moderated slightly. I headed out to Vineyard Sound
but thought better about heading all the way to the deep water off
Spring Point where the big fish live.
The key to finding big fluke is staying on the bottom. Between the
wind and current I was using 10 ounces of lead and still having trouble.
By 2 pm I had two large fluke in the cooler but no winners. I headed
into Tashmoo where a number of visiting boats were anchored for the
Glancing over at a large cabin cruiser I saw a fellow who looked to
be in his fifties standing on the deck in a bikini beaching suit,
the sort only Frenchmen or porn stars wear. If ever a situation called
for more regulation or Marthas Vineyard Commission review as
a development of revolting impact, the wearing of such suits in public
At the VFW, Todd Stempien, a big, burly guy in a Red Sox shirt that
matched the color of his sunburned face, put down a large white cooler
and started weighing fish. He and his team members, Jim Choinere and
Steve Barron, the Slab Men, had been fishing from 5 am to 5 pm with
one purpose. When he saw that his team total of 52.9 pounds beat out
the Sole Mens 45.3-pound total, he said, That was our
The secret of their success, he said, was the bait: whole squid.
The winning team was just as determined to stuff the Flukettes. They
had named their team, Payback, because as Joyce Cornwall,
wife of one team member, told me, That is what it is.
Inside the VFW the Sole Men were squabbling about who had let the
team down. Coop said Ricky lost a Derby winner at the boat. I
told him not to lift its head out of the water, said Coop solemnly.
Ricky maintained the line snapped.
You snapped the line, said Ray, his cousin, proving that
blood is not thicker than seawater.
It was the netter, said Rick, referring to Ray.
I told them their bickering reminded me of that television show, about
a group of people stranded on an island after a plane crash. (I never
actually watched it but I assume bickering is a regular plot device)
Ray pointed out that it would not be wise to be stranded with Mike.
I wouldnt want to be stranded with Mikey, hed eat
During the awards ceremony, Peter Hermann, the hard-working tournament
chairman, said that 125 people, including seven teams, had entered
the tournament. Despite the tough fishing, everybody had fun, which
is always the real measure of success.
VFW Fluke Derby winners
Grand champion: Jeff Tomkins, 10.8 pounds. Mens division: Jeff
Tomkins, 10.8; Jim Choinere, 10.7; Rick Harvey, 10.6. Womens
division: Denise Fraser, 5.5; Justine Chisholm, 1.8. Kids division:
Dylan Doty, 2.4; Lauren Williston, 2.3; Mike Huss, 2.2. Kids 12 years
of age and under: Brian Fraser, 6.7; Sarah Williston, 6.5; Doug Fraser,
6.4; Alex Powell, 6.2; Peter Powers, 4.2. Team division: Payback (Don
Benefit, Bill Bishop, Jim Cornwell, Jim Kligensmith), 57.9 pounds.
Short fluke earn citation
A pair of local Edgartown fishermen also attracted some attention
with their catch of fluke, but not the sort they expected. Instead
of a trophy, Pat Grady, environmental police sergeant, presented the
fishermen with non-criminal citations, which is sort of like a fishing
parking ticket, for taking undersized fish.
State marine fisheries regulations allow a fisherman to keep seven
fluke over 17 inches in length.
According to Sergeant Grady, he stopped the men last Wednesday morning
as they were carrying half a dozen short fluke they had caught from
the Menemsha jetty.
The men received fines in the amount of $50 each. They could have
had their fishing equipment confiscated because it was used to violate
state fishing regulations (Game and fishery law violators also risk
losing boats or vehicles.) and been fined $50 per fish if Sergeant
Grady had decided to issue criminal citations.
Proving once again that it is always a good policy to be polite and
courteous when speaking to someone wearing a badge, Sergeant Grady
said that he allowed the men to keep their fishing rods because they
were polite and courteous.
The fish were donated to local Island residents he said.
Responsible fishermen who play by the rules will welcome Sergeant
Gradys efforts to make sure that those who do not play by the
rules know that he is out doing his job.
Bonito arrive on Vineyard
The first bonito of the season was caught by an unknown tourist who
did not understand the significance of his catch and told Julian Pepper,
a cagey Island kid, who did.
On Monday, Julian caught and released a bonito. He kept the second
bonito he caught, a seven-pounder, and went to Coops to claim
the shops Roberto Germani Trophy, awarded to the first fisherman
who catches and releases a bonito.
When asked, Julian told me he caught the first reported bonito of
the season Monday morning while fishing from Little Bridge at State
Beach. Uh huh.
On Tuesday Stanley Larsen at Menemsha Fish Market told me that a good
school of bonito hit the jetties on Monday. Theyre catching
them right now he told me, as I sat in The Times office.
It is a bit unusual to have the first bonito come from the shore.
Usually, the first reported fish is picked up by a boat fisherman
trolling for bass or blues.
Being an inquisitive reporter, I asked Julian why he just happened
to show up at State Beach that morning.
I kinda thought maybe there might be a few around, said
Julian. Uh huh.
The slow and homely tautog is not exactly up there with fly fishings
glamour fish like bonefish, tarpon, and striped bass.
Tautog are bottom dwellers normally found in rocky areas and around
piers. The folks who target tautog usually do so because they live
around rocky places and piers, and tautog are pretty good eating.
So it is a bit unusual that on Friday two friends and fly fishermen,
Thomas Cochran and Matthew Smart, each caught a tautog. The young
men were out fishing with Matts uncle, Paul DiMaura of Chilmark,
targeting striped bass and blues in tight along the north shore.
Matts fish was a little over two pounds. Toms fish tipped
the scales at 4.62 pounds, a respectable tog on any gear.
The fishs particulars have been submitted to the International
Game Fish Association (igfa.org), a Florida-based nonprofit organization
that keeps track of fishing records. The fish is poised to surpass
the current mens 20-pound tippet division record set on Oct.
9, 1993, when Richard Embery landed a 2-pound, 1-ounce tautog at Margate
The heaviest tautog caught by a fly fisherman listed in the IGFA record
book is a 5-pound, 10-ounce fish caught on a 16-pound tippet.
Tom was using a sink tip line and a Clouser, a fly that features weighted
eyes. Paul thinks the tautog was hanging on the bottom picking up
baitfish chopped up by the bass and blues that were feeding higher
up on the surface.
It is as good a theory as any.
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