Gone Fishin’: Summertime and the fishing is easy

President Obama ought to try a fresh fried fluke sandwich on his vacation.

Michael French of New York City holds a nice fluke caught Sunday in Vineyard Sound. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

On Sunday, I woke up early and drove my boat and trailer to the Tashmoo landing with plans to motor to Menemsha and pick up a visiting friend for a morning of fishing. August crowds and summer heat can make using the Vineyard’s few public launches a trying experience, and it is best to arrive by 7 am.

Michael French, an actor from New York City, worked years ago on a cod boat out of Newfoundland when there were still cod. Vineyard Sound off Chilmark Sunday was much more pleasant. We had a strong east flowing tide, and enough wind to keep us from baking in the sun.

Fluke fishing is a mainstay of the summer. It is also a good way for people who may not be proficient casters to catch fish. It was not long before Michael had his first “keeper” fluke, which measured just a hair over the 16-inch minimum, which is a perfect size for one of the Island’s best treats.

I find fluke to be somewhat dry unless it is drowned in sauce or smothered in herbs. Deep-fried golden brown is another matter. There is nothing like a fish sandwich you make yourself and serve to guests (or hoard). Here is how I do it.

Start with a sharp knife and slice the fluke diagonally behind the gills on one side. I feel for the stomach and cut just behind it. Then I cut the fish right down its center line, leaving two rectangular quarters. Holding the knife flat, I slice each one off, using the bones as a guide, and repeat the process on the other side. I find that laying the fish on a towel or rag will keep it from sliding around. The final step is to skin the fillets. Grab the triangular end of the fillet and slice into it at an angle. Pull in a sliding motion as you continue to slice and skin the fillet.

I rinse and dry the fillets well with paper towels. Next, dredge a fillet in seasoned flour (salt and Old Bay’s). Shake off the excess flour and dip the fillet into a beaten egg. Then lay it on a plate covered with panko bread crumbs; reverse. Pat the bread crumbs onto the fillet. Fry in hot oil (325°F) until brown, and let drain on paper towels. A fresh roll is the last step before you are ready to enjoy this delicious treat.


Last week, I wrote about a sign posted on a private beach in Edgartown that cautioned trespassers that the beach was patrolled by guard dogs (July 30, “Has Martha’s Vineyard gone to the dogs?”). The point of the column was to describe the rights the colonial ordinances grant fishermen to walk between the high and low water lines, irrespective of whether the beach is owned by a millionaire, billionaire, town, or organization. I also wanted to poke fun at the notion that any property owner would see a need to post a sign warning of guard dogs.

As of last glance, the column had attracted 50 comments. You would think I had written about catching and filleting Cecil the striped bass. My guess is that a number of the commenters had never picked up a fishing rod.

The point is that fishermen are not supplicants when they exercise their rights. Beachfront property owners know the deal, or ought to. The notion that fishermen should avoid certain properties to avoid disturbing the sensibilities of those who do not understand that right is silly.

Consideration is the rule. If I see people on the beach, I keep walking.

Several commenters wanted to make a political point. I would be encouraged if President Obama wanted to fish the beach. I think it would do him good to reel in a fish.

Meet the Menemsha fleet

This Thursday, from 3 to 7 pm, the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust hosts a Meet the Fleet in Menemsha Harbor to showcase a working waterfront. Commercial fishing boats will be docked in Menemsha for the afternoon, and fishermen will offer demonstrations in their trade.