Fishing Report: Tourneys spring into action

Gavin Smith chasing bluefish. — Angela Prout

It was a beautiful Memorial Day weekend. The towns and beaches were flooded with visitors and Island residents alike enjoying the sunny weather. Though I personally worked most of the weekend, I still found some time to get out and chase some bluefish that have just recently been arriving to our waters. Anglers were out all over the Island, with varying degrees of seriousness and success, but it was amazing to see the number of people dotting the shores with a rod in hand.

Dick’s Bait and Tackle hosted its annual “Bob Hawkeye Jacobs” Memorial Day Weekend Derby, to kick off the summer fishing season with a little tournament fun. This Memorial Day weekend was named after avid angler Bob Jacobs after his passing, as he never missed this tournament, and was a fixture in the Island fishing community. This year the size of a weighable striped bass was raised to 38 inches to help protect the overfished species, and encourage more anglers to catch and release. With over 70 participants, no striped bass were weighed in this weekend. Keith Olsen took the top spot with a 5.4-pound bluefish from a boat, followed by Wally Tomkins with his 4.4-pound bluefish. The largest sea bass weighed in was caught by Mitchel Pachico at 4.4 pounds.

Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club will be hosting its annual catch-and-release tournament June 8 and 9. This team fly-fishing tournament is celebrating 28 years, and is highly anticipated by anglers near and far. Proceeds from the event help support programs hosted by the Rod and Gun Club, including their spring kids trout derby, and a “day of fishing for kids with cerebral palsy who attend Camp Jabberwocky,” according to their website. Registration is available online and at local tackle shops, as well as on the day of the tournament, at the Edgartown School, which will serve as the derby headquarters. There are trophies for the largest number of fish caught by a team, the largest single fish caught by a team, and the largest number of fish caught by a team that is not allowed to change flies.

I spoke to Doug at Dick’s Bait and Tackle, who told me, “There are fish everywhere!” Doug is the kind of guy who is always excited to have a tight line. In the age of Instagram, Facebook, and easy access to tips from anglers around the globe, many people new to fishing believe that they can read about it, watch some videos, then immediately step out and catch a trophy fish. “It’s not all about the slobs; you have to earn that,” Doug said. For me it’s about the adventure, and every fish I catch makes me happy. If I don’t catch a fish, I don’t get upset. I consider myself extremely fortunate to live in a place where I have the opportunity to explore, meet interesting people, and enjoy the outdoors. Doug told me that striped bass are literally everywhere, and in strong numbers. Bluefish have been showing up in several places, the epicenter of which is Chappy. With the black sea bass season open and in full swing, many have been having great luck fishing from boats in Vineyard waters.


Gavin Smith began fishing when he moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 2014. He is a self-admitted novice, but a truly avid one, eager to learn and share as much as he can. Gavin is a private chef and passionate foodie who appreciates the bounty that Vineyard waters provide, and likes nothing more than sharing his passion with his clients. He is a regular contributor to the Fishing Report.