Weary Derby fishermen head into the homestretch
Keith McArt e-mailed this photo to The Times. He wrote, "Took this shot of a guy from Maine at the gut while we were waiting for the albies to show up. Thought you would appreciate the dedication in the face of exhaustion."
A first-time visitor to Martha's Vineyard during the 60th annual striped bass and bluefish Derby might easily think that fishing rods are a required piece of equipment for Island tradesmen.
The prevalence of fishing rods on Island pickup trucks hints at the degree to which the Derby affects Island productivity. Would-be Vineyard homeowners can only guess at what has become of the guy who absolutely gave his assurance he would be on the job site yesterday.
We are in the derby homestretch. The fishing tournament officially ends at 10 pm a week from Saturday night.
In the next ten days the eight leading fishermen will be doing their best to stay on the top of the fishing mountain. The thousands of derby fishermen who aspire to be on that peak will be fishing hard to knock one of the leaders off and take his or her place.
I still think we have yet to see the annual fall run of big shore bass along the south shore. If I were looking to fill that seat on the derby mountain I would grab a bucket of squid and camp out someplace between Metcalf's Hole on Chappaquiddick and Gay Head.
The shore bluefish category takes a little more guesswork when it comes to predicting where to find big fish. Sunday evening I landed a nine-pounder. I expect it will be my sole brush with derby glory.
I have little interest in chasing false albacore or bonito. Still, I would not be surprised to see a run of bonito in the final days of the Derby. It has happened before.
One of the challenges many Island fishermen face in the waning days of the derby is to come up with strategies to go fishing while making people think you are actually working.
The people on Martha's Vineyard who are most skilled at this are the Island's builders. They have perfected the art of dodging.
I recently ran into two Island builders floating in a boat off State Beach looking for albies. The men said they were headed for a job site somewhere when the notion to chase albies occurred. An appointment is a relative term during the Derby.
This week I spoke with an Island carpenter who asked not to be identified; I asked him to share some of his best Derby techniques. He offered the following tidbits for disguising true intentions and well-practiced excuses.
Always use a nickname when meeting clients so they will not recognize your real name when it appears in the derby results.
Invest in three eight-foot spruce two-by-fours and find a scrap piece of plywood that you can put in the back of your truck to drive around with from fishing spot to fishing spot. "It helps if you have a trash barrel with a piece of wood sticking out," he advised. "It also helps with the wife too."
For the clients: "Jeez, they didn't deliver the stuff I needed and it won't be delivered until tomorrow morning; I can't do anything until the subs show up."
For the wife: "The owners are still in the house and I don't want to disturb them."
Lost rod magnet
Paul Fiedler called to say he had found two and a half spinning rods on various Edgartown beaches over the course of the last week. "I have a knack for finding rods lately," said Paul, who fills in occasionally behind the counter at Coop's.
I was curious about the half a rod. Paul said he had found only the top half of someone's fishing rod. He theorized the rod might have caught on a branch and the fisherman never even realized it was gone.
Paul is one of those fishermen that anyone who has ever lost a valued piece of equipment is happy to share the beach with. "I know how I'd feel if I lost one," said Paul.
If you are missing a whole or half of a fishing rod, Paul can be reached at 508-265-3690.