For Island fishermen, June is a bountiful month
An aerial photo of the Norton Point opening, taken by Andrew Kendall, The Trustees of Reservations president, on May 30.
If I had to pick one month to recommend for fishing on Martha's Vineyard, it would be June. The Island is still relatively uncrowded, and bluefish and striped bass arrive hungry and spoiling for a fight.
My guess is that there are many people who think about fishing but never take the plunge. Maybe the closest the wishful fisherman gets is the purchase of a swordfish cap.
It is not the same. If it was, I'd call myself a crab fisherman when I bought a can of crabmeat to make my awesome crab cakes.
I need to digress.
There is nothing like homemade crab cakes. The recipe is simple. For the price of two crab cakes in a Vineyard restaurant, you can buy a can of crabmeat in the Reliable Market and make a whole pan of crab cakes. They will go well with the fish you are going to catch.
Speaking of crab, I want to know the background story of how somebody figured out that cable television watchers across America would watch a bunch of guys, none of whom you would ever want your daughter to date, fish for crabs in the Bering Sea.
The real heroes of that series are the cameramen. I will never eat a crab cake again without seeing the image of an enormous wave crashing over the deck of crab boat and think, I don't care how much money those guys make, Norma is not going to convince me to go crab fishing.
Enough wishing, it's time to go fishing. (In the interests of disclosure and any future Senate confirmation hearings, I did not coin that phrase. It comes from a bumper sticker.)
Here is an outline for the novice who is not ready to make a major investment but wants to move beyond the hat. Buy an inexpensive eight-foot spinning rod and reel. A decent outfit can be found for less than $80, and will easily last several seasons.
The next purchase is a pair of pliers. You will need these to remove the next purchase from the mouth of a fish or from your body. I carry a short pair of needle-nose pliers I found at a local hardware store.
Purchase a black one-ounce needle fish and a white one-ounce needle fish. All the know-it-alls out there like me will have other ideas, and there is certainly a wide selection of lures, but my goal here is to keep this simple.
The needle fish will catch bluefish or striped bass, and because it rides on the surface of the water, you will see the strike. That is half the fun.
I will assume you do not know how to tie a knot. Ask the tackle shop owner to tie a snap swivel onto the end of the line (see why we go to a tackle shop and not WalMart?), and that will suffice until you learn to tie a knot or lose your two lures.
Speaking of knots, a beginner can get by with two knots: the improved clinch knot and the surgeon's knot. The directions for tying both knots are available on the web.
The next step is to go to a beach one half hour before sunset. South Beach, East Beach, Lambert's Cove Beach, Menemsha Beach and Lobsterville Beach, any one of those beaches is a good choice and will likely boast fish this time of the year.
Distance is not important. Cast and reel back slowly and steadily. When you hook a fish, and you will, take your time.
Two things to avoid: do not reel while holding the reel upside down because it is very embarrassing and awkward looking and people including your friends will make fun of you; and do not hold the rod in such a way that if the plug comes out of the fish it will fly straight back and bonk you in the head, because it hurts and your friends will make fun of you.
Fish identification is another important part of fishing. Just remember that stripers have stripes and bluefish have teeth, and you have blood so it is important not to get near the teeth.
Derby hikes entry fee
The Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby committee voted last month to hike the adult entry fee for the 62nd annual Derby from $40 to $45 and from $15 to $20 for junior and senior entrants.
Derby chairman John Custer told me that there was a great deal of discussion and much heartfelt debate over the question of the entry fee increase. He said it was not an easy decision.
The expenses associated with running the tournament have increased dramatically, said John. They include computer programming, printing, stipends, insurance, and prizes. The free hats given out to every registrant cost $17,000, he said.
The committee looked long and hard at the numbers, John said, and came to the conclusion that given the length of the five-week tournament and the prizes, it is still a good deal.
The committee did not want to cut back on the prizes or the many charitable contributions. The hike, they hope, will provide a cushion against any unexpected expenses.
John is a sincere and thoughtful guy who does a great job at a thankless task. I was a member of the Derby committee for many years and know that most members of the committee are only interested in doing what is best for the tournament and the Island.
However, I have always thought that the 90 percent of the fishermen who enter the Derby are not in it for the prizes. In my view most people would fish to be a part of the tradition that is the Derby and the Derby's pins.
I would prefer to see the Derby cut back on expenses rather than increase entry fees. Just what the effect if any will be on the Derby remains to be seen.
Next winter the committee will have an opportunity to mull the results and plan for the future. It is a job they have always taken seriously.
15 minutes of fame
Last Thursday Jim Creighton of Tisbury must have been wondering why people were congratulating him for catching a 60.1-pound striped bass. Perhaps Jim just said thanks and smiled. He had his 15 minutes of fishing fame.
Last week I misidentified Jim Creedon of West Tisbury. He is the fisherman who caught that very big fish while fishing with Captain David Hearn and Luke Gurney.
Fishing columnists need to get the names right and the fishing location wrong.
Father's Day fishing column contributions wanted
With the approach of Father's Day, I am preparing a column to honor dads like my own who introduced a son or daughter to the joys of fishing.
Do you have a photo and favorite memory of fishing with dad? Please forward your photo with a short fishing story and description of your dad (150 words or less) to me at The Times.
The photo does not need to be fishing related. It could just be of your dad mowing the lawn. But I do want a few paragraphs about being outdoors with your dad. Please identify all the people in the photo and provide a contact telephone number or e-mail address.
I will include a selection of photos and stories in my fishing column and the entire selection will appear on the web site on June 14, in advance of Father's Day.
Photos should be mailed, e-mailed, or dropped off at The Times no later than Monday, June 11.
Mailing address: The Martha's Vineyard Times, 30 Beach Road, PO 518, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
16th annual catch and release tournament Saturday
The 16th annual Martha's Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament is Saturday.
Fishermen fish in teams and all catch tallies are strictly a matter of personal honesty. Everyone who fishes the tournament, and is present at the awards ceremony has an opportunity to win a very nice prize. All entry forms go into a box and are pulled at random.
There are three prize categories: The Roberto Germani Trophy for the most striped bass caught and released by a team; The Sonny and Joey Beaulieu Trophy, for the largest striped bass caught and released; and the Arnold Spofford Trophy for the most fish caught and released by a team using one fly.
The entry fee is $35. Money raised by the tournament helps support a variety of youth programs.
The first cast cannot be made until 7 pm Saturday night and tournament fishing must stop at exactly 2 am Sunday morning [Rules are available at www.mvtimes.com. A registration form is available at www.mvrodandgunclub.com/cnrform.html].
Fishermen must register Saturday between noon and 3 pm at the high school cafeteria. On Sunday the culinary arts program provides breakfast. The awards ceremony begins at 9:30 am.
Ever had a pair of fly rods fly off your vehicle? Sol Watson did. Luckily Chris Osmers of West Tisbury was in a vehicle a few cars back. Sol said his Orvis rods survived but the reels, although built for heavy fish, are not designed to be run over by cars. His is grateful to Chris. The reels will be repaired.
Ever been so tired you step out of your wader boots and forget to pick them up? I did just that at bend-in-the-road beach Friday. Did you find them?
Coop's will host an Orvis Day this Friday afternoon from noon to 2 pm. Orvis reps will be on hand to show off the latest rods and reels, provide casting tips and generally share advice. There will be hot dogs and prize giveaways as well. Coops is located on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road next to Cottle's.