Fishing with dad catches memories to savor
I was a city kid who became an Island guy. I learned to deer hunt and duck hunt on Martha's Vineyard, but I was always a fisherman.
The imprint came early. My sister and I were five or six years old I think when my father took us to fish for sunfish under Echo Bridge, just outside of Boston.
I never forgot the name of the bridge, and I never forgot the thrill of holding a wriggling sunfish. My guess is that my dad brought us fishing without a thought that it would leave an indelible imprint.
My father's name was Sheldon, but most of his friends called him Sonny. It fit his disposition and personality.
He was an auto mechanic who struggled all his life and had little wealth to leave behind. But he left me with much to value and an example to emulate.
My father was generous, kind, funny and unfailingly honest. He also liked to fish.
My family lived in the Franklin Field projects in Boston. We later moved to a Dorchester triple-decker and from there to a single-family ranch in Hyde Park.
My dad had no glittering reels and no handmade rods. We made no trips to exotic fishing spots.
He had an old outboard motor that he would put in the car and take to Harvey's boat livery on Quincy Harbor and rent a skiff - it was less expensive if you brought your own motor. We fished for flounder with drop lines baited with sea worms.
My dad would be shocked to know how much just one of my Orvis fly rods and reels costs. But he would be very happy to know that I still love to fish, and as Father's Day approaches, I still remember how much I loved to fish with him.
I recently invited readers to submit photos and stories that described their dads. The responses follow.
Tisbury School teacher John Custer and his dad, former Vineyard schools superintendent Herb Custer.
My dad fished while growing up in Connecticut and later worked as a charter captain and served in the Coast Guard. After moving to the Vineyard in the late 1960s, he continued to spend much time on the water.
One of his greatest gifts to me was introducing me to fishing and boating. Some of my earliest memories include fishing for winter flounder in Lagoon Pond with my dad.
As I was growing up, we always set lobster pots, went quahauging and scalloping, and fished.
Today, these activities are still among my favorites. Most importantly, I get to pursue these interests with my father. I still have the first fishing rod he bought for me. It serves as a reminder of the larger gift he gave to me - an appreciation for fishing.
Now, my best days are spent with him in Vineyard Sound catching fluke and stripers, scalloping in the Lagoon, or simply talking about fond memories of times spent on the water. The man who taught me practical lessons such as how to tie monofilament knots, change the lower unit oil on an outboard, and fillet fish, also instilled in me a sincere respect for the water and a love of fishing.
He's the best fishing partner I could hope for, as well as a good friend and supportive father. For all this, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, Dad.
John Custer, Tisbury
Joseph and his dad Tony Serpa fishing on Memorial Wharf in Edgartown.
I asked our five-year-old son Joseph to tell me about daddy and fishing. He said, "My daddy lets me use his tackle because he loves me. He helps me if I catch a big fish, like a striped bass."
For the record, little Joseph Serpa has not caught a striped bass, yet.
Lauren Serpa, Edgartown
Cooper Gilkes walks along the beach with grandson Cooper Polleys.
You know him as Coop, the fisherman. The dedicated guy who is on the beach, in the boat, behind the counter of Coop's; always willing to take a moment and set you straight with good advice.
In a society where 'legacy' is usually just a sports metaphor, and so little passes from one generation to the next, Coop's example keeps a worthy tradition alive.
He's passed it to three generations, at the trout tournament, the derby, and in everyday life. And he's passed it on to his family, his children, and their children. We remember our first nights on the beach under the stars, and look forward to our children doing the same.
You know him as Coop, the fisherman. But we know him as dad and granddad. We value the legacy he gave us. And we thank him for our legacy this Father's Day.
Tim Gilkes, Greenfield, and Tina (Gilkes) Polleys and Danny Gilkes,
Ed "Bonito" Lepore fishing for bonito off Oak Bluffs.
Of all my memories of the countless fishing trips with my dad, I don't recall any unsuccessful ones; for at the end of each day, he always took the time to ask if I had a good time.
We fished year-round, and I still do, but my dad and I don't fish together much these days, as I now live in Vermont.
While growing up in Eastern Connecticut, my dad and I did a lot of ice-fishing each winter, trout fishing on the Natchaug River each spring, and salt-water fishing on Long Island Sound in the summer. With each trip, my dad taught me the tricks and ways to catch fish. I'd often catch more than he would, but that's only because he spent half his time "talking" about fishing, and the other half showing me how to fish.
I was truly excited for him when he headed out to the Island after his retirement in 1988, and was even happier for him when he was dubbed "Bonito Ed."
Nineteen years later, I am more proud to know that I am the son and student of a respected fishermen, sportsman, and teacher. When I look at it all, I know the times spent fishing with my dad were the best days of my life, and I will be forever grateful that he took the time to show me that fishing was an art, science, and way of life.
John Lepore, Vermont
Taylor and Fergus Henderson with a pair of Lobsterville striped bass.
This past weekend was a first for the Henderson father and son M.V. striper fishing team. It was the first time my father and I participated in the M.V. Catch and Release Bass Tourney. While my father has fished in the tourney a number of times in the past, this was a first for me.
It is now established as a tradition for the Henderson family, as is the case for many Islanders. My children will soon be old enough to throw a fly and it will give me much pleasure to see multiple generations of Hendersons participating in the tourney, year after year, fathers, sons, daughters and mothers (maybe).
My father and I have spent a lot of time doing things together over the years. He coached many of the sports teams I participated on as a child. He was always there to help with homework and sacrificed much to allow me to have the best education possible. He and I even ended up working for the same company.
He is a doting grandfather to my three kids (Kiernan, 10, Ramsey, 7, and Shea, 5). He has opened up his island home to my family and it is now the place we spend the majority of our summer.
He has become a true friend, and is always there to give me fatherly advice. I love him very much and would like to wish him a very happy Fathers Day. Happy fishing, Pop.
West Hartford, Conn.
Jack Balaschak, Jacquie Balaschak, son John Yarrington and Uncle Tony DeLorenzo, back from a fishing trip.
The first day of trout fishing season was a big deal for me growing up. My Dad would wake me up in what I thought was "the middle of the night," and off we'd go to meet with his fishing buddies. I did so well one year, the guys told him "she'd better stop catching fish, or we're going to throw her in!"
Years later, I moved to the Vineyard and my Dad had a house here. That's when I learned about big fish. Shore fishing for stripers and blues was really fishing.
When I had a son I made sure he found out about trout every year at Duarte's Pond at the annual kid's fishing derby.
But my son had never caught his "big fish." So one year, to thank my Dad for all the wonderful fishing lessons, I took him and my son on a charter off the north shore. And did we catch fish! We even took my Uncle Tony along, as he was often a fishing buddy of my Dad's.
My son caught his first striper. I even caught a Spanish mackerel. We all caught something that day - lots of fish and the love of fishing Dad taught us.
Ed Butor and daughter Renee fishing at Menemsha Bight this spring.
My family lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., and has been vacationing on the Vineyard every year since 1992. We have always been a close-knit family and ever since our children were little (our twin boys are now 20 and our daughter is 24) my husband Ed has enjoyed taking them fishing.
In early June he helped them catch some schoolie stripers. He was so excited that they each caught a fish. It was a great family day!
We are a very close family, rooted in our faith towards God. Ed has always put his family first, being there for his children and providing a good home. Ed has always involved our children in sports and the arts and many times has joined them as coach and mentor. Being a musician,
Ed has taught our children to play guitar and a variety of other instruments. This gift he has given our children over the years has blossomed into an active family music ministry group in our church in Pittsburgh. Ed spends most of his free time with his children, whether it is on the golf course with Rick and Chris or in the backyard playing badminton with Renee. He is a blessing and I know he considers his family one too.
We always read the MV Times online. In May, my husband and I were on the Island to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We had a lovely time and the weather was great. Ed landed three stripers in Vineyard Haven Harbor, too.
Maureen Butor, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Allen Moore took this photo his two sons, Ally and Andrew in Shawinigan, Canada, in 1971.
My brother Andrew and I were about 11 and nine years old. Our father had taken us out of school for a week to go on this fishing trip with both our grandfathers. At the time, I remember thinking, can you miss a week of school to do something as excellent and fun as fishing with your dad and grandfathers? The trip seemed so exciting and adventurous compared to our previous forays to the Mill Pond in West Tisbury.
Little did I know at the time what sort of imprint this fishing trip would have on both Andrew and me. We have essentially set up our lives in order to fish on a regular basis, and we have our dad to thank for that. Throughout the years, fishing with him has been one of the most pleasurable constants in our lives.
Just two days ago, I went out fly fishing with dad and his wife, Suzi, at the back of Katama Bay during this long northeaster. We each caught a schoolie bass and watched the glorious stars overhead. I think the thing that impressed me most was that he still felt the pull at age 74 to go out in lousy conditions to see if we could find some fish.
Jim Cornwell of Edgartown casts on East Beach.
Our Dad has an obsession for fishing. Because of this, we were brought up playing in the dunes; entering casting tournaments and watching him fish the shores of Cape Cod and the Vineyard. We wouldn't trade that for anything.
However, his persistence to stay in the surf, even when the toughest fishermen had headed home, was almost too much. It seemed more like work than fun - at least from a kid's perspective. Yet, somehow he injected the joy of fishing into our lives.
Now, nothing can prevent us from gathering each September - from Washington State, Maryland and Rhode Island - to participate in this thing called "The Derby." For a week, we hardly sleep and now our own children do not understand us. During recent summers, Dad has quietly been training his grandchildren how to "sling a plug." They'll understand some day. Thanks for your addiction, Dad.
Dawn Cornwell, Baltimore; Jonathan Cornwell, Wakefield, R.I.; and Jim Jr., Vancouver
Catch & Release
A total of 144 fishermen entered the 16th annual Martha's Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch & Release Tournament held this weekend from 7 pm Saturday to 2 am Sunday.
According to filed catch reports, fishermen caught and released a total of 484 striped bass. Likely the number was slightly higher.
Roberto Germani Trophy
For the most striped bass caught and released by a team. Roberto Germani, an Island character, believed strongly in the philosophy of catch and release.
1.Team Capawock (Phil Cronin, Jay Cronin, Ross Brawn, Gary Hoffman, Tom Fay, 51 fish) 10.2.
2. Demel/Kollett (Sandra Demel, John Kollett,19 fish) 9.5.
Team Fly Sulli (Dottie Sullivan, Ron Sullivan, Dave Nash, 28 fish) 9.33.
Sonny & Joey Beaulieu Trophy
For the largest striped bass caught and released. Sony and Joey Beaulieu, father and son, died in a tragic boating accident along with Fred Loud and his son Adam.
Jay Beaulieu 47.5-inches total length and girth (31, 16.5).
1. Gary Mirando, 47.5 inches (31.5, 16).
Arnold Spofford Trophy
For the most fish caught and released by a team using one fly. Arnold Spofford, fly fisherman and gentleman, was a familiar face to many whom fished the beaches of Martha's Vineyard.
Scurvy Sea Slugs (Herbert Tilton, Harold Dozier, 9 fish), 4.5 fish.
Catch-up and Release (Ed Lepore, Jim Lepore, 8 fish) 4 fish.
Bird Men (Tom Robinson, Nelson Sigelman, Jason Zimmer, Peter Duggan, 12 fish) 3 fish.