A young fisherman earns respect with single-minded determination

Ospreys fish with their feet. Here, the fish hawk carries a small striped bass back to its nest. — File photo by Ken Magnuson

I can report that I found hope in a Martha’s Vineyard tackle shop. There are kids who, when given the opportunity, want to be outdoors and fish.

Based on the relentless marketing of all things wireless, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that no outdoor experience is complete without the ability to crank up the tablet while resting in a tent to watch a movie or zap zombies in a video game. So it was refreshing Sunday to run into two kids who just wanted to fish.

I was in Coop’s when Bryce Cadrain, 11, of Newton and Christian Vitti, 13, of Granby, Conn., walked in to the shop. The boys, cousins, were visiting the Vineyard over the holiday weekend and staying at their grandfather Frank Amazeen’s house in Edgartown.

Bryce was determined to hook a trout that would earn him the top spot in Coop’s freshwater fishing tournament. At the end of the day, Memorial Day, Coop was going to draw a name from among all the leaders in every freshwater species division and hand out a very nice fishing rod.

Coop suggested to Bryce that he set his sights on another species, where the bar was not already set so high. The leading catfish was not that big. “Grab yourself a catfish and you could win a $150 rod,” Coop said with a knowing grin.

“I’m after trout,” Bryce said with a smile that immediately earned the respect of the other fishermen standing in the shop, including me.

“What’s the leader?” he asked

“20 and a half inches,” Coop said. “You’re gonna have some trouble.”

I asked Bryce why trout. “Because they are like cool,” he said.

He had fished that morning in the Oak Bluffs water company’s upper Lagoon pond. Christian had not. I asked why? “5:30 am is a little too early for me,” Christian said.

When I asked him how he got there he said his mom had dropped him off — proving once again that behind every good fisherman there is a mom willing to wake up very early.

The boys headed out to their grandfather’s waiting car. “He was in here three times today and three times yesterday,” Justin Pribanic said from behind the counter at Coop’s. “He didn’t want anything to do with catfish.”

On Monday, Christian, who earned a ticket in the drawing with a 21.5-inch largemouth bass, won the rod.

Bryce, who had not managed to catch his monster trout but did hook a pickerel and a second-place yellow perch, was disappointed but did not go away empty-handed.

Coop looked around the shop and found what he was looking for. “I found a plaque and gave it to him for second place,” Coop said.

Striper expert

I hear the striper fishing is slow. This osprey had no trouble catching dinner, although he (or she) did not have to observe the state’s 28-inch minimum size limit.

Ken Magnuson said he took this photo on Monday, May 20 at the Edgartown Golf Club about 6:30 pm while at work. “It came from over the trees in the direction of Eel Pond and carried the bass up to the nest on the 9th hole of the course,” Ken said in an email.

Weakfish arrive

Edgartown harbor master Charlie Blair reported that weakfish are being caught in Edgartown Harbor. This is very good news for a species that was once commonly caught on the Island but became a rarity.

Also known as squeteague and spotted sea trout, weakfish were once part of the annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. Winning fish ranged between 13.26 pounds and Lee Welch’s Derby record 16.90. After four fishless years, the Derby removed the weakfish category in 1990.

Over the years, an overall decline in weakfish along the East Coast led to increased catch limits. Mass regulations allow fishermen to take one fish a minimum of 16 inches in length.

My recommendation would be to release any weakfish, assuming the fish is not injured, and do your part to help what appears to be a resurgence in weakfish stocks.

Dick’s derby results

Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Oak Bluffs held its 21st Memorial Day weekend tournament. Despite the dismal weather, a total of 56 fishermen entered in the boat and shore categories, owner Steve Morris said.

Dick’s contest attracts good fishermen, and for the most part, the names of the top finishers are familiar. Steve said the fishing was just mediocre.

Bluefish leading up to the weekend were strong, but the bass fishing was very slow, part of a continuing pattern, Steve said.

“Every year they keep getting smaller and smaller,” he said. “We didn’t break 20 (pounds) this year.”

Shore bass: 1. Pat Toomey of Oak Bluffs, 18.7 pounds; 2. Greg Williams of Pennsylvania, 16.5 lbs; 3. Mark Campos of Vineyard Haven, 14.2 lbs.

Boat bass: 1. Jeffrey Canha of Vineyard Haven, 19.1 lbs; 2. Brendan Morris of Edgartown, 18.7 lbs; 3. Keith Olsen of West Tisbury, 17.6 lbs.

Shore bluefish: 1. Jim Cornwell of Edgartown, 6.8 lbs; 2. David Lichwell of Berlin, 6.5 lbs; 3. Brad Johnston of Pennsylvania, 6.4 lbs.

Boat bluefish: 1. Kyle Lichwell of Berlin, 7.9 lbs; 2. Bill Potter of Oak Bluffs, 7.7 lbs; 3. Mike Tomkins of Oak Bluffs, 7.5 lbs.


A fisherman walked into Coop’s with a pair of clogs he said he found on the beach that likely belonged to a fisherman. To his great amusement, Coop knew just who owned the distinctive camouflage footwear — me.

Father’s Day stories wanted

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16. 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 (nelson@mvtimes.com).

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 June 20 issue.

Please identify all the people in any photo and provide a contact telephone number or email address. Photos should be mailed, emailed, or dropped off at The Times no later than Monday, June 10.

I will respond to all emails so if you do not hear from me call 508-693-6100, ext. 13.