Shark fans turn Oak Bluffs Harbor into Coliseum
A mako shark comes to the side of the "Nomad," owned by Ben Ross of Edgartown. The photo is courtesy of professional sailing photographer Amory Ross, who was along for the ride. He has great sailing photos on his web site www.amoryross.com.
I fished for fluke on Saturday with Vlad and Tucker, two Island visitors from Virginia. When we arrived back in Menemsha there were 2,000 people lining the dock to watch us hoist up our fish.
Well, actually there was no one. They were in Oak Bluffs Harbor. I was flabbergasted when Tim Williamson, Oak Bluffs Police lieutenant, told me an estimated 2,000 people showed up to watch the weigh in.
Obviously, the Humane Society of the United States did a good job of convincing people that shark tournaments are a brutal spectacle. The full-page ads showing a shark hauled up on the dock and the banner critical of the contest towed around by an airplane Friday and Saturday obviously worked.
What HSUS failed to understand is that people in America love brutal spectacles. The aerial banner served as a reminder to people sitting on a beach who were not thinking of going to Oak Bluffs.
Hasn't the HSUS leadership checked out those so-called martial arts sporting events in which two guys beat, kick, choke, and head-butt the hell out of each other in a cage (I assume the cage is to protect spectators from flying body parts)? Haven't they ever watched Rosy O'Donnell and Donald Trump?
HSUS is now targeting Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, the contender for the dumbest professional millionaire athlete of the year award. Mr. Vick is awaiting arraignment on federal charges stemming from a dog fighting operation.
Do not misunderstand. I support HSUS efforts to create a more humane world. I simply think that their considerable resources need to be directed at better targets.
I support: eliminating obnoxious cell phone users (like the jerk in the cabin of the 2:30 pm freight boat Friday from Woods Hole talking business for 15 minutes); a ban on any more TV news discussions about Harry Potter; anything to do with David Beckham or Posh Lice; drivers who tailgate while traveling at 65 miles per hour and above; and anyone over the age of 60 dressed in a multi-colored spandex bicycle riding outfit.
I think the best story to come out of the shark tournament belonged to Bob Decosta, captain of the first-place boat. Bob is a charter captain during the week. On the weekends he runs the "Provider," a 42-foot Wesmac custom-built sportfishing boat for a wealthy Nantucketer.
The owner was called away and could not fish the tournament. So Bob called up some friends, all local island guys.
The guys caught a 311-pound thresher shark on the first day. They caught a mako on the second day, but at just over 200 lbs. they knew it would not be big enough so they let it go.
Bob told me he purposely uses iron hooks that rust out within a week. A short time later they hooked and caught the thresher that put them in first place.
Bob said he has fished in many tournaments and considers the monster shark event to be one of the best. He said that the minimum size limits are very high and the fact that blue sharks do not count for points goes a long way towards eliminating senseless kills.
"I find it somewhat hypocritical," said Bob, "that these people protest us in a tournament, yet they are not standing at the end of the dock when the longliners come in with boxes and boxes of fins that they just hack off of a shark and kick the body over the side when the fish is still alive."
(This list contains the name of the captain, the name of the boat, port of origin and weight of fish.)
1. Robert Decosta, Provider, Nantucket, (311-pound thresher, 327-lb. thresher) 638 points; 2. Damon Sacco, Castafari, Pocasset, (536-lb. thresher) 536 points; 3. Peter Asiaf, Due Diligence, Boston, (414-lb. thresher) 414 points; 4. Mark Donahue, Foolishness, Boston, (348-lb. thresher) 348 points; 5. Tom Good, Reel Good, North Falmouth, (346-lb. thresher) 346 points.
Top Jr. angler: Anthony Kross, Fortuna, Edgartown, 8 blue sharks and 1 mako released. Top female angler: Nicole Rice, Howlin Wolf, Elkton, Maryland, 2 blue sharks and 1 mako released. Largest Thresher: Damon Sacco, Castafari, Pocasset, 536 pounds. Largest mako: Dan Wiggin, Concrete Idea, Pocasset, 232 pounds. Release Award: Ben Ross, Nomad, Edgartown, 19 sharks released. Tag Award: Johnny Walker, Loan Shark, Gloucester.
Hunter captures Bonito award
Hunter Krueger, a nine-year-old fisherman from Somerville, South Carolina, holds up a bonito he caught and released Sunday.
The verified catch and release got Hunter a trophy that he can use to impress his friends back home. Cooper Gilkes at Coop's Bait and Tackle named Hunter the winner of the Roberto Germani Trophy, given by the shop for the first bonito of the season caught and released.
Hunter was fishing with charter captain Robert Morrison of Edgartown off Chappaquiddick. Rob said he was trolling Rebel Fast-Tracs for bluefish when the bonito hit. It was the only bonito of the day, he said.
"It was just mixed in with the bluefish," said Rob, "but it was a pleasant surprise."
I expect more bonito will be showing up in the usual spots around the Hooter and off Menemsha. Leaving Menemsha Harbor Saturday morning I saw Chip Leonardi perched on the edge of the jetty on the Lobsterville side.
I rank Chip up there with Ospreys and terns when it comes to indicators that fish might be present. If Chip was there I suspect he thought the bonito were there.
Tricia Haskell, wife of fly fisherman Mac Haskell, got tired of looking at all the flotsam and jetsam (not fishermen but trash) washed up on Lobsterville Beach near the couple's seasonal home. Rather than just complain, Tricia decided to do something about the problem.
She has organized a beach cleanup this Saturday from 9 am to 12 noon. Large garbage bags will be provided and there will be a town truck to haul all the trash to the dump.
Parking will be allowed on the road shoulder. This is an opportunity for fishermen who enjoy Lobsterville to mix volunteerism with fishing. Pick up trash and then cast for small blues or bass cruising the western flats.
For more details, contact Tricia Haskell at 508-645-3130.
Celebrate the life of Philip Craig
Philip Craig of Edgartown, well-known mystery writer, loved to fish. He died on May 8 after a brief illness.
From time to time I would run into Phil and his wife Shirley, with whom I shared a number of fishing adventures. It was always fun to hear what Phil had to say about a variety of subjects. I think it was his deep booming voice I enjoyed most.
And then there were the funny, barbed letters to the editor. Phil did not write a lot of letters so I suppose he decided that if he was going to stick his head up out of the trenches he might as well take a good shot.
He gave his opinions of Gay Head politics and he gave his opinions on piping plover politics. Phil sure could pick 'em.
On Saturday, August 4, family and friends will get together at the Martha's Vineyard Rod and Gun club in Edgartown from noon to 4 pm to celebrate Phil's life. Shirley made it clear that this is going to be upbeat, "a gathering of friends and family enjoying the fellowship, good food and good drink that Phil delighted in his entire life."
She added, "Phil's strict instructions were that there be no eulogies, but the family would welcome the telling of anecdotes and stories or the singing of a good song of the sort Phil would have loved hearing."
Contributions of finger foods on disposable plates are welcome.
The club is located at the end of Third Street off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. Go to the end, take a right and the club is at the end of first driveway on the left. Just listen for the laughter and the deep voice.