Gone fishin’: A ramble around the fishing neighborhood

The water is warm and the fishing action is tepid.

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Jena Beauregard and Julian Pepper with a brown shark they caught on Chappy and released. — Photo courtesy of Julian Pepper

The one benefit of the hot weather this week on Martha’s Vineyard is that it reminds me of why I do not live in Florida. Imagine dealing with this heat and humidity for months with the added risk that at any moment an alligator might grab you like a bluefish going after a needlefish.

Generally speaking, warm water slows the fishing. Scattered reports of bonito offer some motivation. Friday I launched my boat intent on finding bonito.

My first stop was off Tashmoo. One fellow was fly fishing from the bow of a boat while his partner stared off into space. I saw no evidence of fish and continued on to Lambert’s Cove. A brief sprinkle of bait on the surface attracted my attention. I hoped to see a fish break the surface but saw nothing. Several casts later I headed across Vineyard Sound for Lackeys Bay and Naushon Island. I found shoals of bait but no bonito. Undaunted, I set my course for State Beach and settled in for the ride in my 18-foot Tashmoo.

Water, water everywhere and not a fish did jump. Water water everywhere and not a cast to make.

It was time to return, I thought. The one benefit was that I had burned six gallons in my aging 30 horsepower Evinrude engine, not a bad price to pay for a nice day of cruising and not catching.

The local report is a mixed bag.

At Coop’s, Cooper was still recovering from an offshore trip over the weekend with Donny Benefit. Tuna was the quarry but they were nowhere to be found.

“We didn’t see anything, it was just a beautiful day on the water,” Coop said, “but we could have filled the boat with mahi — tuna and marlin just evaded us.”

Coop said bonito are showing “here and there” and he is receiving reports of albie sightings but no confirmed catches. The one bright spot from the shore, a bluefish blitz at Wasque Tuesday just before the top of the tide.

“Everything else is slow,” he said. “It’s hot.”

At Dick’s, Doug Asselin told me the August heat had slowed the shore fishing to a crawl. “It’s definitely gotten tough,” he said.

The good news, he said, is that the squid jigging in Edgartown Harbor remains strong.

I spoke to Julian Pepper at Larry’s who told me about the same thing with respect to bonito, here and there but not in great numbers. The fun game in town, he said, is fishing for brown sharks from the Chappy beach. “It’s been fun, we’ve been catching them consistently,” Julian said.

The bait of choice is eels. The sharks are from 80 to 100 pounds and five to six feet in length. I asked if it was beach-chair big game fishing. “Once you hook up you’re not in a chair,” he said, “that’s for sure. It’s awesome.”

I bet the little seal that escaped from a big white shark off Monomoy thought that was awesome. The video snippet was captured on Monday by Greg Skomal, a former island resident who is a senior fisheries biologist with the Division of Marine Fisheries. Greg is the state’s resident shark expert and has been studying and tagging white sharks in our waters since they first appeared.

He was off Monomoy when he got a shot of a white shark coming clear out of the water in pursuit of a seal, the first time, he said, they had seen “a full blown predation attempt on a seal.”

The video is available on youtube. Note how close all this takes place to shore and how much the seal resembles a surfer in a wetsuit… just sayin’.

Landing update

Last week, I wrote about the landing at Ocean Heights and the unregistered boats and trailer cluttering the beach. Edgartown harbormaster Charlie Blair said one boat has been removed and he will continue to press ahead with the cleanup of derelict boats, do-it-yourself moorings and unregistered boats.

Environmental Police Captain Patrick Moran has also taken an interest in the landing and is assisting Charlie.

Several people took issue with me pointing out the mess and my characterization of those responsible as Islanders. The goal here is to have a nice spot, one that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors now and in the future. All of us should share an interest in keeping Island ponds clean and show little tolerance for those who want to disregard the rules and foul our waters.

Last week, I mistakenly said that Ralph Grant purchased the property and donated it to the town so commercial fishermen would always have access to Sengekontacket Pond. In fact, it was his brother Mansfield Grant who was responsible. It would be fitting if commercial fishermen would help keep the landing clean in recognition of that generosity.