Gone fishin’: Not much catch in the catch-and-release tourney

The fishing was slow all around the Island, but that did not slow down the fishermen who joined the annual event.

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Love was in the air for a pair of horseshoe crabs discovered close to shore in Sengekontacket Pond late Saturday night in Edgartown.

The Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club held its 24th annual striped bass catch-and-release tournament Saturday night. From 7 pm to 2 am, a total of 116 fishermen flailed away, without much to show for it.

How slow was it? Well, my team members spent part of the evening watching horseshoe crabs mate on the shore of Sengekontacket. And they posed for a tourist photo on Dike Bridge on Chappy.

In total, the 116 fishermen who showed up to fish the tournament caught 63 fish. That is a slow night of fishing, when you consider that most of the fishermen who joined the tournament are experienced and fished some of the Island’s best spots.

I have a theory. The fish are there, but some nights they just do not feed on the shore. I suspect it is related to atmospheric pressure, wind direction, moon phases, and a number of other natural factors that escape notice by us but not the fish. How else to explain it?

The wind was screaming out of the southwest when my group set off for Chappaquiddick with tasty sandwiches from Edgartown Pizza and Deli at the Triangle. Our plan was to fish the incoming tide on the flats at North Neck.

It is a pretty spot to fish. There is a public parking lot, and a visitor may find bluefish, and false albacore and bonito in the fall. We were after bass, but we never had a strike.

The poor fishing did not dampen the awards breakfast and ceremony Sunday morning, as fishermen recounted their efforts to find fish. For most, the annual event is an opportunity to enjoy the Vineyard shoreline and fish — brothers, fathers, sons and daughters, and longtime pals. That is just fine by me.

Results

Roberto Germani Trophy for the most striped bass caught and released by a team: 1. Kyle Colter, Kalib Abrams (Team Squealers, 3.5 fish average); 2. Joe Cordeiro, Greg Cordeiro, Richard Cordeiro, Scot McLellan (Team Live and Let Fly, 3 fish avg.) 3. John Kollett, Nick Kollett, Sandra Demel (Team Mail It, 2.33 fish average).

Arnold Spofford Trophy for the most fish caught and released by a team using one fly: 1. Ben Scott, Travis Keltner (Team Michael Double, 2 avg.); 2. Jim Lepore, Ed Lepore (Team Carps Diem, 1 fish avg.); 3. Scott Maccaferri, Ed Tatro, Mike Mathias, Jeff Stevens (Team Last Cast, 0.75 fish avg.)

Sonny and Joey Beaulieu Trophy for the largest striped bass caught and released: Richard Cordeiro, 43 inches (29 inches in length, 14 inches in girth).

Chappy closures

In an email, Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) Martha’s Vineyard superintendent, said the plover and tern nesting situation at Norton Point and Chappy is coming into focus. Chris predicts several limited outer-beach closures over the next week. Up-to-date information on beach closures is available by calling the TTOR Beach Hotline at 508-627-8390.

Here is a brief synopsis: The tip of the Gut will be closed to vehicle access, and beginning in mid-June, TTOR will staff the Gut daily to prevent boaters intent on picnicking from landing in the closed plover-chick area.

There are three plover nests on East Beach opposite the narrows. Last summer, chicks crossed over the barrier beach to feed on the bay, resulting in the closure of all of Cape Poge for two weeks until they successfully fledged. “TTOR shorebird staff and rangers will be closely monitoring these chicks to determine their location over the next several weeks,” Chris said. He hopes that by giving the chicks lots of lateral room on the beach, they will not cross to the inside.

Common, least, and roseate terns are looking at Norton Point Beach for potential nests, but none have nested so far. “We expect that to change within the next week or two. American oystercatcher chicks can be expected to appear at Norton Point over the next few weeks. While these chicks are not afforded the same level of protection as terns and plovers, we ask all drivers to be on the lookout for oystercatcher chicks, which can wander into OSV trails. Slow and steady is the best way to access the outer beaches on Martha’s Vineyard.”

Chris reminds vehicle drivers that dogs are prohibited on the outside beach at Leland Beach. Dogs in vehicles are allowed on the inside trails on Leland Beach for vehicles transiting the Leland property to gain access to Wasque and Norton Point.

Dogs are allowed elsewhere, but they must be on leashes. “Rangers are being directed to actively enforce the dog leash laws, and may ask offenders to leave the property immediately, and may in certain situations void the OSV permits of offenders,” he said.

TTOR will also cooperate with local law enforcement authorities to enforce all local ordinances regarding alcohol abuse, especially by minors, at Norton Point Beach this summer. He asks beachgoers to report to rangers “any activity, open fires, or parties which appear to have the potential for getting out of hand.”

“We don’t want to be the anti-fun cops, but we want everyone to be able to enjoy their experiences on the beach this summer,” Chris said.