Mr. Obama, a predator drone provides unique fishing possibilities


Saturday, I got up early to beat the crowd and launched my Tashmoo 18 from the Lagoon Pond launch ramp. My goal was to catch a bonito, something I have not done in years.

I spent a good seven hours in fruitless pursuit. I had plenty of company. A small fleet hovered off State Beach hoping for a shot at the fleet tuna.

There were bonito present. However, there were few telltale signs — not the surface commotion one sometimes sees, just an occasional splash to alert the idling fishermen.

Later in the morning, the bonito moved about a mile off State Beach. The cluster of boats followed.

But not me. I had a strategy. I suspected the fish were deep and that some were still in the area. I was correct, but it did me no good.

Bonito fishing is mostly exasperating and rarely exciting. Later, I looked for bonito off Cape Poge. Captain Phil Cronin told me they had been there on Friday and more willing to strike a lure — but not Phil’s. “I’m in bonito jail,” he told me.

Phil told me that Chris Windram and Scott Patterson had hooked a few bonito that morning. That was no surprise. Otherwise, hookups were few.

About 3 pm I decided to cut my losses and go home with dinner. I had some frozen squid, so I headed for a spot off East Chop in about 40 feet of water to bottom fish for sea bass.

In my opinion, sea bass is one of the best eating fish found in Island waters. The large rib cage makes the smaller fish a little tricky to clean so I tend not to keep any fish under about 14 inches in length. The legal minimum is 12.5 inches.

I kept three fish. Monday evening I fried up the catch in a little oil. Panko bread crumbs is the key to crispy, light fillets. Norma and I had quite a feast, augmented with fresh tomatoes from my friend Tom’s garden.

Eating a fresh catch of fish you caught yourself is one of the pleasures of Island living. I think President Barack Obama ought to try it.

The president appears to be having fun on his vacation. I am not so sure about the girls. As a veteran of vacations with my own daughter, I understand the terrain.

Mr. Obama has played golf, basketball and been out to eat with friends at upscale restaurants, but he has not gone fishing. I am a little concerned about his image in the world.

Yesterday, the president and his family ordered take-out fried food at Nancy’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs. The day before he played board games such as ‘Taboo’ and ‘Scrabble’ at his luxury vacation place.

Yesterday, according to the Associated Press, Russian Prime Minister and former president Vladimir Putin fired darts from a crossbow at a gray whale off Russia’s distant eastern coast. How cool is that?

Mr. Putin was part of a team in an inflatable navigating the choppy waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula. He hit the whale with a special arrow designed to collect skin samples that would allow experts to determine where the whale came from.

When the boat landed on the beach, a beaming Mr. Putin “hopped off and made a beeline for waiting reporters,” according to the AP report. A reporter asked whether the endeavor was dangerous.

“Living in general is dangerous,” he answered.

What has President Obama done this week that sports a sense of drama or flair: Golf? Drain a three-pointer?

The president needs to go fishing. But the truth is that he would be hard pressed to adopt the macho image that Mr. Putin seems to crave. It’s just not him.

So I have come up with a new fishing technique that showcases our country’s technological superiority and creativity and plays to the president’s cerebral side. It will also scare the bejesus out of the president’s enemies (Rush) and impress his friends (Oprah).

The president has made full use of the predator drone. It is quite a weapon. It flies silently over some dusty strip of earth as a joy stick avenger likely not far removed from playing video games in his basement mutters, “Here’s some change you can believe in,” and presses a button that zaps a guy thousands of miles away.

The president needs to get one of his guys in the CIA to outfit a drone with a harpoon, a coil of line, and a float of the type used by Island swordfishermen.

The traditional way of fishing required a skilled harpooner like Jonathan Mayhew of Chilmark to walk out to the end of the boat’s pulpit. The captain would slowly maneuver the fishing boat near a sunning fish and the harpooner would strike.

The fish would run dragging a bright ball float behind. Once the fish tired, the fisherman would retrieve the fish. That is so analog.

With a drone, Mr. Obama could fish from the comfort of Blue Heron Farm. Once he whacks a fish with the drone harpoon, the Coast Guard retrieves it. The president gets to hoist it on the dock — top that, Putin!

It would be great fun, and Mr. Obama would not even need to get wet. No complaints from the ACLU, although the humane society might have something to say.

Commercial closures

The commercial fluke season was due to close this week, but because the most recent landings data revealed a recent decline in the daily catch rates and the lousy weather kept most boats in port, the Division of Marine Fisheries decided to extend the commercial fluke season an additional week through August 31, when forecasts indicate the commercial fluke quota (846,667 lbs.) will be reached.

The recreational fluke season ends on Sunday, September 5. For many fishermen it was over before it began. Based on my experience and what I heard from other fishermen, the fluke fishing was downright poor.

DMF closed the 2010 commercial striped bass season the end of the day Sunday, August 22, when, it estimated, the quota of 1,128,577 pounds would be reached.

As a result, after August 31, fish dealers will only be able to sell striped bass imported into Massachusetts, and the fish must be tagged designating the state of origin.

In 2008, the commercial striped bass season closed on September 8, based on estimates that the total quota of 1,107,828 pounds would be reached.

Last year, the commercial season closed on Wednesday August 26. Some years, the season has been closed in less than four weeks. DMF has tinkered with the bass regulations for years in an effort to avoid an early season market glut and to lengthen the amount of time locally caught bass is available for markets and menus.

Recreational fishermen are allowed to catch two striped bass per day, each a minimum of 28 inches in length.