Marines will hit the beach with fly fishermen Saturday


The Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club will host the 19th annual Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament Saturday. How time flies.

The contest began as an idea around a winter fly tying table and grew from there. There have been refinements over the years to counter the anal-compulsive, competitive, rapturous nature of some fly fishermen.

For example, when it appeared that some fishermen were more interested in the prizes than the spirit, we removed the prizes from the awards structure and made them part of a raffle. Anyone who registers for the tournament and attends the Sunday morning awards breakfast has a chance to win a very nice prize.

Cooper Gilkes, and I (by default) are the co-chairmen of the tournament. When we got tired of listening to people complain about this or that we adopted a philosophy of “we don’t care.” Our view was: go out on the beach, fish, have a good time and maybe win a plaque to collect dust on a mantle but please, do not complain to us.

Over the years that approach has worked out pretty well. And judging by the hundreds of fishermen who participate each year and have a great time, it works.

There have also been some constants. Since the beginning of the tournament, through thick and thin times, Paul Fersen of Orvis and the Orvis Company have supported the tournament and never asked for one thing in return.

Other fishermen have also contributed money and prizes, even when they could not attend. By way of example, this morning, I received a telephone call from Eddy Lepore. He will be in Connecticut attending to house issues and miss his first tournament but he sent along boxes of his elegant flies.

On my desk is a check for $25. Joe Panetta of Chelsea sent it along as a contribution because he will not be able to make the tournament. He has a pressing appointment with some tarpon in Florida.

Send in the Marines

This year, through the generosity of tournament fishermen the club will host two Marines from the Weapons Company 1st Battalion 25th Marines Regiment, based at Fort Devens.

The original idea was to host members of “Project Healing Waters,” a nonprofit group that assists active and retired military personnel with their physical and emotional recovery, by introducing or rebuilding fly fishing skills.

The club described the idea in a registration letter sent several months ago. Ralph Norton of Oak Bluffs said he could provide a house. Other fishermen sent donations.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we learned that for various reasons the Project had been unable to find vets capable of making the trip.

We were unwilling to give up and began thinking of some way we could take advantage of the generous offers and honor members of the military. Ever try finding the right person to contact in the U.S. military with an invitation to come fly fish on Martha’s Vineyard? Good Luck.

Then about a week and a half ago, I reached First Sergeant Roger D. Newcomb, an instructor/inspector with the 25th Marines. I launched into my story and tried to downplay the fact that I was extending an invitation to a night fishing event only 10 days away.

I explained that our original invitees could not make it, and we would like to see some members of the military have an opportunity to enjoy this generosity. I said gear would be no problem, and we could provide a quick fly fishing boot camp.

“I do in fact have Marines that are interested in coming to enjoy this opportunity,” Sgt. Newcomb wrote back.

We hope that on Saturday, Sergeant Michael S. George and Sergeant Brian J. Miller will hit the beach and be happy to do it. Oorah!

The rules

So this is how it all works. Fishermen fish in teams and all catch tallies are strictly a matter of personal honesty.

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, and tournament fishing must stop at exactly 2 am Sunday.

Fishermen must register Saturday between noon and 3 pm at the high school cafeteria (entry forms are available at Sunday the culinary arts program provides breakfast. The awards ceremony begins at 9:30 am.

Father’s Day stories wanted

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 20. Do you have a photo and favorite memory of fishing with dad? Please forward your photo with a short story and description of your dad to me at The Times.

Write the story as though you were telling it to someone in a tackle shop. If you have a photo, send it along too. I will publish a selection in the newspaper and all the stories on the web in the issue of June 17.

Please identify all the people in any photo and provide a contact telephone number or e-mail address. Photos should be mailed, e-mailed, or dropped off at The Times no later than Monday, June 14.

Mailing address: The Martha’s Vineyard Times, 30 Beach Road, PO 518, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.

 E-mail: I will respond to all emails so if you do not hear from me call 508-693-6100.

Orvis Day at Coop’s

Coop’s will help fly fishermen warm up for the Catch and Release tournament Saturday night by providing hot dogs, chips, and expert guidance from Orvis.

The Orvis crew will be at Coop’s Friday from noon to 2 pm to show off the latest rods and reels, provide casting tips, and generally share advice. There will be hot dogs, fish talk, and prize giveaways as well.

Coop’s is on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road just outside of Edgartown next to Cottle’s. Call 508-627-3909 for more information.

Memorial Day tourney results

A total of 67 fishermen paid $30 to enter the shore and boat divisions in Dick’s Bait and Tackle’s 18th annual Memorial Day weekend tournament. For the winners, it was a great investment. For the losers, well, they had an excuse to spend a great day fishing in beautiful weather.

Doug Asselin told me the tough part was finding big fish. But given the weather, people didn’t really complain about being on the beach or boat all day he said.

Boat bass: Jeff Canha, 25.9 pounds; Bill Aibel, 19.6; Trevor Maciel, 19. Shore bass: Ken Anderson, 21.2; Pat Toomey, 18.1; Bob Jacobs, 16.3. Boat Blue: Ed Jerome, 8.9; Keith Olsen, 8.6; Ralph Buck, 7.7. Shore blue: Jonathan Cornwell, 8.1; Tom Hiatt, 7.1; Jim Cornwell, 6.8.

Wrong crab regs and phone number

The fishing limits published in last week’s newspaper included outdated limits for blue claw crabs. Sharp-eyed fisherman Hollis Smith of Aquinnah caught the mistake and provided me with the new regs.

Recreational fishermen may only take a crab that measures five inches across the carapace from point to point. The limit is 25 crabs per day.

Night fishing is allowed for dip netters. The taking of egg bearing crabs is prohibited. Female crabs have red legs. Although regulations do not prohibit taking females it is a smart practice to let the girls go.

Also last week, I published an incorrect telephone number to call for the National Saltwater Angler registry. Forbes Darby, Recreational Fishing Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries emailed me with the correct number. It is 1-888-674-7411.

Lost jigs

While fishing for squid at Edgartown marine a couple nights ago, Jim Fraser of Oak Bluffs forgot his large plastic Plano Box containing his complete collection of squid jigs. He would like to get it back.