|Heather Klinck, a seasonal West Tisbury resident, holds up a red snapper she caught while fishing with her husband, Charles, and another couple off Destin, Fla. in May. In total the foursome brought home 32 fish.
Florida requires saltwater fishermen to purchase a license, an idea that did not float well in Massachusetts when it was raised about ten years ago. Heather said that even though the other couple got seasick, they still had to buy a saltwater fishing license.
Angler fails to catch world-cup fever
The major network announcers want all Americans to care about the World Cup. The constant reminder of how much more popular soccer is compared with the Super Bowl or the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby seems a not-too-subtle attempt by network internationalists to embarrass us into caring.
Saturday it was raining (again) as I pondered my total lack of interest in a sport which (I had learned from several television announcers) would be viewed by 1.5 billion people (minus me) around the world. That is an impressive number, and if all the hype is to be believed, it does not include an estimate of extraterrestrial viewers stealing images from satellite TV.
Apparently a lack of appreciation by Americans for a sophisticated sport, one that has been responsible for fights, murders, wide scale riots, and even one war (El Salvador and Honduras), provides pundits in European salons and third-world huts with an example of U.S. provincialism.
With the rain falling Saturday afternoon I settled back in the reclining section of my green leather couch and purposely decided to watch a World Cup soccer game. I felt a journalistic responsibility to give it my best shot.
Because I refuse to subscribe to anything more than basic cable, my only choice was the Spanish language channel. I did not understand what the announcers were saying, but they were obviously very excited.
I do not know who won because I fell asleep. Which was a good thing because that gave me the energy I needed to go fishing later that evening up-Island.
The rain had finally let up. Tom Robinson and I headed for Lobsterville, arriving just about the time the winds started blowing hard out of the northwest.
A group of guys was catching small bluefish from the beach just before sunset. The guys had a cooler I suspect was not as heavy as it had been when they arrived and were fishing in pants and sneakers.
I walked down to the beach to survey the scene, and one of the guys immediately began telling me about the fishing. Tourists are good sources of information.
My only complaint was their parking job. Rather than parking at an angle to make as much room as possible in the limited space Aquinnah allots, the guys parked parallel to the road taking up what would have been an extra spot.
Tom and I headed over to Menemsha Pond to fish the inside and try to put the increasingly stiff wind at our back. Finally we simply gave up and went home.
The weathermen are predicting better conditions this weekend. I suspect that Lobsterville will be quite productive in the weeks ahead.
On Sunday I decided to give the World Cup another shot, this time with the helpful guidance of commentators speaking in English. Trinidad and Tobago, "the smallest nation to qualify in the World Cup," was playing "powerhouse Sweden."
The announcer let me know that team Sweden was wearing yellow jerseys and Trinidad-Tobago was wearing red. I will admit that I made a good guess based on the fact that one team was comprised of all blonde guys with crew cuts and the other was mostly black guys.
The game was mildly entertaining, sort of like hockey without the fights. The best show appeared to be in the stands where folks were dressed in all kinds of crazy outfits, including a fellow in a sort of Swedish hawk get-up.
The game ended in a 0-0 tie and the Trinidad-Tobago folks went nuts, apparently just happy to have survived the match. I was looking forward to some soccer hooligan behavior by guys who look like Mad Max fans, the sort of fare Fox TV serves up as cross-cultural educational programming, but to my dismay everyone behaved well.
The opposing players exchanged sweaty jerseys but had the good taste not to actually put them on. I thought this is a custom that would not translate well to waders.
I called Coop's to see if anyone was watching the World Cup. Danny Gilkes said his dad was napping, but I knew that probably had more to do with Coop's late-night fishing habits than "foootball" viewing.
As part of my survey, I asked Danny if anybody standing in the shop cared about World Cup. As a matter of fact, said Dan, he had a customer who did and he put him on the phone.
Chris Lukowitz of West Tisbury was on the line. "What do you know about the World Cup?" I asked him.
"I know it's a world-wide soccer tournament," said Chris in a tone that said he was not quite sure why he was even having the conversation. Chris told me he had played soccer his whole life, beginning in school and continuing through college.
I told Chris I had yet to find the game exciting. He assured me it was more exciting to attend a game than to watch it on TV, I expect because one gets to see people behaving crazy.
Would you rather watch soccer or go fishing?" I asked.
"I'd rather go fishing," said Chris to my great relief.
I checked in with my friend Ally Moore, a man of sophistication, to get a primer on soccer rules. Ally quickly sensed what I was up to with my sudden interest in a sport he loves.
"Are you one of those American journalists who watch it and bash it because you don't understand it?" he asked.
I admitted I was one of those crass Americans who preferred watching soccer riots to the actual game of soccer and didn't care if I understand the game anymore than I care about scoring in tennis.
Damning with faint praise, Ally told me the game may be outwardly boring but he thinks it is fascinating, particularly the ball control skill exhibited at the World Cup level.
Taking a humanitarian tack, he said it is a game that is played in the poorest dust bowls of the world by kids with nothing more than a ball of twine.
"You just need a ball and you have a game," said Ally.
Sure, not like in Afghanistan where you just need a horse and a calf carcass to play Buzkashi I agreed.
I posed the same question to Ally: fishing or World Cup? He equivocated.
"In the later games, like when Brazil or Argentina plays another good team, yes, I'd probably stay home from fishing later on in the tournament," said Ally, adding a qualifier that it would depend on if he knew it was guaranteed good fishing like big bass on Lobsterville.
"That would be a tough call," admitted Ally.
Wear your seatbelt
From time to time I use this column to provide safety reminders for fishermen. Most notably: when fishing on shore as well as on the water, wear an inflatable PFD. This week I was reminded about the need to always wear a seatbelt.
I decided to combine a dog walk and a few casts Sunday afternoon along a beach at West Chop not more than a mile from my house. I put a light rod on top of my car, hoisted my fat old Lab in the back and drove up the road without having buckled my seatbelt.
I was driving along Main Street just past the open field that overlooks Vineyard Haven Harbor as relaxed as could be when in my rear view mirror I caught a little blue shoebox of a car racing up the road. I thought the car was driving pretty fast but expected it to slow down as it came up on me - only it didn't.
I put my right blinker on and began to slow down in anticipation of pulling off the road; the car I had seen speeding up the road was still coming fast. I had the instant realization that for whatever reason, the other driver was not slowing and was about to plow right into my car.
She hit the brakes to much screeching of tires. So much for my relaxing walk. But here is the good part.
The woman, a blonde harpy from West Chop in a blue Suzuki sidekick, who obviously skipped a few classes at finishing school, pulled up next to me, her face all contorted as she snarled some unintelligible epithets at me. Then she gave my dog the finger - and he wasn't even driving - and drove off.
After the initial shock I tried to catch up to her so I could ask her what it was about my brake lights and turn signal she did not understand. If she is reading this, perhaps she will let me know herself.
It was a very, very close call. Less than a mile from home, and I almost did not make it back from a fishing trip. Buckle up.
Norton Point Beach
reopened to vehicles
Dave Belcher, Trustees of Reservations Chappaquiddick superintendent, called on Friday and said the west end of Norton Point Beach was closed to vehicles to protect the only surviving plover chick from a nest of four eggs. Dave said high tides had washed away two eggs and the two remaining eggs hatched, but one chick quickly disappeared.
He estimated the closure could last up to 28 days -the time it could take for the chick to learn to fly. The chick never got the chance.
Yesterday, Dave called and said the chick was gone and the beach was open to permitted vehicles. There are more chicks about to hatch, however.
"This was only the first round," said Dave.
Those chicks will need all their survival instincts and a lot of luck to survive the abundance of natural predators along that stretch of beach.