Several weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a program at the Vineyard Playhouse titled “Fish Tales.” On Monday evening, I joined Janet Messineo, Charlie Blair, and Buddy Vanderhoop, all natural and funny storytellers. Each of us told a fishing-related story. It was good fun, and helped raise some money for children’s theater programs.
I preferred to work from written remarks, and in the process of preparing for my theatrical debut, I wrote about fishing with my father. It is strange to think that I am now older than my father was at the time I was describing him.
I grew up in the Dorchester and later Hyde Park sections of Boston. Not really an outdoor environment, but my father liked to fish, and he owned a small outboard engine, but not a boat.
I don’t remember how big it was, but the engine was small enough to cart around in his work truck, and light enough to stick in a barrel filled with freshwater every time we returned home from a fishing trip.
He and I would make regular trips to go flounder fishing in Quincy Bay, once referred to as the flounder capital of the world. We would drive to Houghs Neck with our outboard, rent a small wood skiff from one of the many docks that catered to visiting fishermen — it was cheaper if you brought your own motor — and we would head out to the bay.
We had no fancy tackle, no graphite rods. Just simple drop lines and what are called spreader rigs, coat hangers really, meant to keep two hooks from tangling.
My Uncle Max, an old Russian, often came along. He had a peculiar technique he said attracted flounder. He would slap the water with an oar; yes, we had oars just in case. Now that I look back at it with the skepticism of adulthood, I can’t imagine what if any effect slapping the surface of the water had on the flounder below, but I was a kid and it was all part of a ritual that generated a love of the fishing experience.
Another part of that experience was when my dad and I stopped at a diner in the early morning. It was a workmen’s diner, and still to this day, depending on the nature of the diner I am in, an aroma of coffee, grease, and cigarettes reawakens those associations.
It is those fishing trips made so many years ago that I will think about on Father’s Day, and wish that my dad was still around so I could return the favor and take him fishing.
In your own image
Years ago, I recommended how fishermen could relieve stress by making their own lures.
My idea was to take an old popping plug and add the image of an individual you disliked or who irritated you. Getting divorced? Put a photo of your spouse’s lawyer on the plug. Boss a pain? Stick his or her face on a popper.
Then wait until you hit a big bluefish blitz, and reach for the lure. Every time a bluefish whacks the plug, I said, you will feel better.
Well, this week Ron Domurat sent me an email that described an event built along the same lines, but on loftier sentiments. The Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association, an organization built around fishing, friends, and community, sponsored a Make Your Own Lure Contest, and then got together last Saturday at Wasque Point with the idea that they could put the lures to good use.
“Twenty-five members submitted more than 30 imaginative entries, and the only rule was that the lure could not be made by modifying an existing commercially produced lure,” Ron said.
An impartial jury of Lena Johnson, Robin Nash, Joyce Cornwell, and Barbara Rogers judged Phil Horton’s “Dog Bone” and Ralph Peckham’s “Pabst Blue Ribbon Special” as the winners of the most original lure award.
There were more elaborate designs. They included lures crafted from broom handles, kitchen spoons, and knives. Dave Kolb fashioned a lure by gluing a doll’s head onto a 2-ounce jig.
“It was a great time, and we had a lot of laughs, but lamented about how much more fun we would have had if the good bluefishing that had been occurring all week hadn’t suddenly tanked,” Ron said. “No one caught a fish!”
Striper season opens June 25
In advance of the commercial striped bass season, which opens next Thursday, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is reminding fishermen of new rules put in place to comply with measures to reduce the striper harvest by 25 percent.
The 2014 Massachusetts commercial striped bass fishing quota was 1,155,100 pounds. The season closed following a reported harvest of 1,128,337 pounds. This season, the quota will close at 869,813 pounds.
Martha’s Vineyard fishermen have expressed concerns for several years over a steady decline in the abundance and size of one of New England’s most sought-after gamefish. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), a 15-member body responsible for managing fish species and implementing management plans along the East Coast, announced new measures to cut the catch in October 2014.
As a result, the recreational bag limit was reduced from two fish at 28 inches to one fish this season.
The open commercial fishing days are Mondays and Thursdays. On open days, a 15-fish daily limit applies. Fish must be 34 inches in length. Rod and reel commercial fishermen are restricted to two fish.
“These limits apply to the permit holder regardless of the fishing location (shore or vessel), the number of permits or endorsements held, or the number of trips taken in a day,” DMF said in an advisory bulletin. “The 15-fish limit also applies to the vessel regardless of the number of permit holders onboard or trips taken in a day.”
During commercial trips, it is unlawful for commercial fishermen to possess or land a recreational bag limit in addition to their commercial harvest or to retain any catch at the recreational minimum size of 28 inches. Commercial fishermen engaged in commercial fishing for striped bass may not fish aboard the same vessel at the same time as recreational fishermen.
There is another new rule that commercial and recreational fishermen will need to be aware of when on the water.
“From June 20 through the end of the commercial season, when a commercial striped bass fisherman is recreationally fishing on a closed commercial fishing day, he or she must immediately remove the entire right pectoral fin of any striped bass 34 inches or greater that is retained.”
This rule also applies to any person fishing aboard a vessel that holds a commercial striped bass permit or is carrying the holder of a commercial striped bass permit.
Commercially harvested striped bass can be sold only to dealers authorized to purchase striped bass from harvesters. The DMF list of primary buyers includes Island fish markets, a number of restaurants, businesses, and individuals.
For more information, visit the DMF webpage, or call 617-626-1520.