It is summer. I know that because the people in a big rush are here.
One night last week, I was driving home from Aquinnah with Tom Robinson after an unproductive fishing trip to Lobsterville Beach. It was approaching my 11 pm bedtime and a lack of fish-catching adrenalin left me poking along South Road slightly under the speed limit. The driver in the vehicle behind me was obviously in a hurry.
I looked for a shoulder to pull off so the guy could race by me and maybe hit a deer that I might hit, or get stopped by a cop. It is the little victories I hope for in the summer.
I always look forward to fishing Lobsterville. My many memories of bass popping along the beach provide a sense of anticipation. But the night had been a disappointment
Samantha Domurat inspects a false albacore caught by her grandfather Ron Domurat of Edgartown one fall. What does an old photo of a fish still months away from visiting these parts have to do with today's column? Read on.
Chris Reardon of Oak Bluffs walked by us on the beach and stopped to chat with me. The fishing was pretty good the previous night, he said. The fish were picky but they were there, which was not the case on this particular night.
Bait was abundant along the beach. A ribbon of small sand eels tinted the water along the shoreline. Gulls and terns were busy making the most of the beachside banquet.
But we found no fish. Well, in all fairness, Tom did catch one small bass slightly larger than the squid fly I had on the end of my fly line.
The tide was just about low. As a result there was little current. Stripers like current, and that may have had something to do with our poor results.
But, I suspect it had more to do with a cold front moving in from the northwest. Bolts of lightning illuminated the horizon in the direction of New Bedford. More ominously, from the perspective of someone holding a nine-foot graphite fly rod, bolts of lightning flashed in the sky just west of Gay Head.
Weather can trigger fish feeding behavior. Based on reports I heard later, the front slowed down fishing around the Island.
When the weather cooperates and the wind blows from the southwest, Lobsterville Beach is one of the better Island beaches to fish for striped bass at the end of June and beginning of July. Its ease of access makes it a perfect beach at which to introduce summer guests or kids to fishing.
My one complaint is that town officials have done little to increase parking along the beach, which is more than a mile long. The town resident-only beach parking area is marked with tow signs that provide no assurance that parking is allowed late at night.
Lobsterville Beach acts like a large bowl holding bait soup. Fish like that. And there are no hidden obstructions waiting to snag fishing line.
Even better, it is generally easy to find plenty of casting area. I like to have 360 degrees of clear space when I take someone who does not know how to cast fishing. It is stressful to constantly say "sorry" to the burly guy standing next to you after your guest's lure flies in front of his nose or crosses his line for the umpteenth time.
That is not to say that I have to find ways to entertain visitors. My wife has done her best to make sure we do not have houseguests, or if we do that they do not stay long. She could have her own cable show. I have the title: Guest proofing by design.
But that is fine with me. With some exceptions, I am not one of those selfless fishermen who gets more enjoyment from watching others catch fish. I want to catch fish.
The worst situation is to find fish when you are with people who are not really interested in fishing. The sun is going down, you spot big bass swirling just off the beach and your guests have no clue regarding the significance of the event, and worse, could care less.
"Nelson," Priscilla said to me. "Jeremy is a little cold, do you think we could go back now?"
Sure, what are you kidding? No way I'm leaving now.
Actually I do not know anyone named Priscilla or Jeremy, and even if I did I would never take anyone to Lobsterville Beach if I thought there would be striped bass around, unless we had a second car.
I am fairly single-minded when the fish start hitting. I want to fish.
It is one of the reasons Norma is cautious about accepting an invitation to go to the beach. She has never quite got over the short trip to Chappy that turned into a long day's journey into night.
But there are times when duty calls. Some fishermen are truly heroic. I was reminded that there are truly selfless individuals out there when Barbara Rogers sent me a photo of her husband Ron Domurat of Edgartown and asked me to include it in a father's day column published on June 14. The photo did not make it in.
Barbara wrote, "There were tons of fish around that day and in the middle of a 'blitz' Samantha says, 'Grampie, I have to go potty!'
Being the doting grandfather, Ron (yes, somewhat reluctantly) took care of business before getting back to the fish. Samantha is now 13 and quite a good caster."
Ron is a good role model.
VFW Fluke tournament
The eighth annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) fluke tournament is scheduled for July 7 and 8, weather permitting, said Peter Hermann, tournament master.
The annual contest is a great family event and features plenty of prizes and a cookout. This year there will also be a trophy handed out for the largest sea bass, a tasty fish that many people prefer over striped bass (I am in that category).
There is no entry fee for kids 12 and under. Youngsters 13 to 16 years of age and folks over 65 pay $10. The rest of us pay $20 to enter.
There is also a side team competition. Any team of up to four people may enter this category. Each competing group will weigh in its four heaviest fish on Saturday and again on Sunday. The team with the highest combined total weight wins bragging rights and custom made tee-shirts proclaiming the wearers to be the "Monarchs of the Deep," or something like that.
The entry fee is an additional $40 per team.
Fishermen can sign up at Island tackle shops or at the VFW on Towanticut Avenue. Peter can be reached at 774-563-0293 with any questions. The tournament will end on Sunday, following the final weigh-in, with hamburgers and hot dogs on the VFW grill.
Good fishing reports
The pre-Fourth of July weekend is shaping up to be a great time to go fishing.
Coop at Coop's in Edgartown sounded a bit groggy when I called Wednesday morning. He explained that he had a "good night" up-Island. Translated from Coop-speak that meant big striped bass and plenty of them.
Coop said the tide would be excellent for Lobsterville (falling). "Big fish too," he said.
Bluefish are hitting off the Chappy beaches. There is a good afternoon tide, he said. Surface lures like the Robert's and Spofford's plugs should attract plenty of toothy action.
Morgan Taylor at Larry's in Edgartown had much the same to say about the good fishing. He said the boats are doing very well fishing off East Beach for bluefish and striped bass. Blues are all along the beach and bass are in the rips off Wasque, he said.
Shore fishermen will find blues during the day and bass at night along Chappy, according to Morgan, who recommended metal and popping plugs during the day and darters and swimming plugs at night.
Matt Malowski at Dick's in Oak Bluffs provided a fluke report. He said fishermen are getting quality fluke, six- and seven-pounders, but not in any great quantity. In a tune-up for the fluke tourney, Jim Fraser and his son, Douglas, came into the shop with a nine-pound fluke.
Matt said fishermen are also having fun casting plugs to bass hanging right in the Wasque rips.