The fruits of a fisherman’s labor are mighty tasty

Stephan Pond, winner of the boat bass division, holds up the 22.3-pound striper he caught on Done Deal with Capt Jeffrey Canha. — Photo by Jeff Canha

Saturday, I launched my Tashmoo-18 at the Oak Bluffs launch ramp and went fishing for black sea bass about one mile off East Chop. The action was slow, but I was determined to bring home dinner.

I had no shortage of bait. On Friday evening, Tom Robinson and I went squidding on State Beach. The plan was to catch about a dozen squid and then go bass fishing.

The squid fishing, great for the past several weeks, was that night the stuff of legends. I stood in the water just off the beach and repeatedly dropped my jig in the water and came up with a squid. Over and over I caught squid and could not stop.

To amuse myself, I would snag a squid and reel it in slowly while pointing it at Ned Casey who was standing next to me on the beach. The squid in its efforts to jet away continued to squirt water and ink. I had devised a bionic weapon: the squid squirt gun.

Perhaps, the military could use giant Humboldt squid for some covert purpose. They’re cheaper than drones.

I suspect that in years to come this season’s squid run will be a staple of conversation in Windemere. “Tom, remember that year — what was it, 2012 — when the squid came in thicker than mopeds? We were gettin’ ’em every cast, remember that?”

Tom and I collected almost a bucket of squid. Based on earlier reports of fish caught off the beach and unwilling to expend much energy moving anywhere, we rigged up and cast from the beach on the theory that bass would be looking to pick up an easy meal.

To my relief, when I got home my wife, Norma, was asleep. I bagged most of the squid and searched for crevices of our freezer not already unoccupied by a packages of squid.

Saturday, I used the fresh bait to good advantage. The fishing was slow, but I did manage to land about seven sea bass just over the legal 14-inch mark.

There is a technique to preparing squid and sea bass for the dinner table. Sea bass have a wide rib cage that requires some tricky navigation with a fillet knife. I poke the point of the knife in just behind the head with the blade facing up and toward the tail. Then I cut upward along the dorsal edge. By cutting up and under I avoid the need to cut through the tough scales.

Squid are easy. Reach into the tube with a finger and pull out the innards. Peel off the skin membrane. I save the head and tentacles for sea bass bait (the fish love those big eyes lookin’ back at ’em).

I dusted my fish and squid rings in seasoned flour, then placed them into an egg and milk wash and then — and this is critical — rolled each piece in Panko breadcrumbs.

Deep-fried and drizzled with lemon, the meal made winter seem like a distant memory.

Dick’s Memorial Day tourney results

A total of 74 fishermen paid $30 to enter the shore and boat divisions in Dick’s 20th annual Memorial Day weekend tournament. For the most part, the weather and the fish cooperated.

Steve Morris, owner of Dick’s in Oak Bluffs, said his holiday weekend tournament attracted the most fishermen he has had in three or four years.

I asked Steve what he thought was at work. Not being a government economist or TV talking head, Steve did not point to European debt, gas prices, Obama or Romney. “I have no idea,” Steve said. “We have a lot of bait and the fishing is really good.”

Bass fishing has been good all spring but blues were scarce. That changed Thursday, he said, when the bluefish showed up in numbers on Chappy, off State Beach, East Chop, and West Chop.

I asked Steve what has been the hot lure. “The squid jig,” he said.

As anyone remotely connected to the fishing community knows by now, the squid fishing has been epic. It is so good Cape-based charter boats are running squid trips to Island waters.

On Friday evening, I counted more than a dozen boats anchored several hundred yards off State Beach and the entrance to Edgartown harbor. The bright lights betrayed the fact that they were fishing for squid.

I suspect that a number of the winning fish in Dick’s tournament fell to a dunked squid.

My only suggestion would be that Steve create a contest category for biggest squid caught from shore.

Fishermen weighed in a total of 6 boat bass, 11 shore bass, 11 boat blues and 9 shore blues. They likely caught many more.

Boat bass: Stephan Pond, 22.3 pounds; Keith Olsen, 18.2; John Bunker, 18.2. Shore bass: Bob Jacobs, 19.6; Lee Bruni, 18.1; Phil Horton, 17.9. Boat blue: Bill Potter, 10.8; Walter Tomkins, 10.4; Kyle Lichwell, 10.2. Shore blue: Dan Williams, 8.8; Brad Johnston, 8.3; Paul Cormier, 8.

21st catch and release tournament

The 21st annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, June 9.

The awards ceremony will follow on Sunday morning. It is a unique tournament in many respects. Fishermen who might not normally be attracted to fishing competitions find it promotes the best aspects of fishing — the camaraderie that fishermen share on the beach, for example — and downplays the competition and prizes that make some tournaments unpleasant.

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 morning. Rules are available at

For tournament information or to contribute, contact Cooper Gilkes at 508-627-3909.

Father’s Day contributions wanted

Do you have a photo and favorite memory of fishing with dad?

Please forward your photo with a short fishing story and description of your dad (200 words or less) to me at The Times.

The photo does not need to be fishing related. It could just be of your dad mowing the lawn. But I do want a few paragraphs about being outdoors with your dad. Please identify all the people in the photo and provide a contact telephone number or email address if I need to follow up.

I will include a selection of photos and stories in my fishing column, and the entire selection will appear on the website on June 14, in advance of Father’s Day.

Photos should be mailed, emailed or dropped off at The Times, no later than Monday, June 11.

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