Fishing is heating up 

Gavin Smith reels in a striped bass. — Oraibi Voumard

It’s been an interesting summer for me. Though fish have been caught consistently all summer, I haven’t been the one catching them. It’s not that I don’t want to be fishing, in fact I want nothing more. Between work, an art installation, and my consistent willingness to bite off as much as one can possibly chew, I have not made the time to fish much. 

I finally had a summer snow day, a day I had fully committed to working. I love my work, but a cancellation in summer is like the snow days from school in my childhood, an unexpected windfall. Now, I could have done a lot of things, but the grind of working nearly every day was taking its toll, and I decided I had to go fishing.

Almost everyone I know who regularly goes fishing has caught several bonito this season, and I couldn’t take it any longer. I spoke with Doug at Dick’s Bait and Tackle who told me he has caught as many bonitos from shore this season as he has in his entire life. 

I called my good friend Oraibi Voumard, who is almost always up for an adventure, and we decided to meet up at one of the bonito hot spots. If you’ve been driving around the Island, and are in tune to fishing at all, you might have noticed rods on cars in numbers that resemble the Derby. Smaller striped bass have stayed around the Island in strong numbers all summer long making a great season for anglers of all experience levels. But the talk of the town lately is the bonito. They came in out of nowhere in July, and have been around the Island in strong numbers ever since, a rare event to say the least. 

I arrived before Oraibi, and there were four or five other anglers already fishing. I just got myself settled when a boil of fish erupted just a few feet in front of me. I cast just beyond the school, and the moment my lure hit the water, I felt the all too familiar drag of a large weed on my hook. I frantically reeled the lure back straight through the fish, but my chance was gone. The frenetic flock of birds above the bait ball was racing away from us as a group of boats crashed into each others wake chasing the school. We spent about an hour waiting for another chance, watching several boats chase down the school well beyond our reach. After a while, we both decided that it was time to get out on the water and commit our day to chasing the prized bonito. 

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Teddy Howes, we were fortunate enough to borrow his boat for the afternoon. We worked our way around, but it was much later in the day, and by the time we returned to the place we had seen the fish earlier in the day, all that was left were schools of striped bass. I managed to hook up on a couple of decent stripers, and bluefish. I didn’t get my bonito, but it was fulfilling in an almost indescribable way to get back on the water. 

I spoke to the staff at Dick’s who mentioned the first false albacore have been caught near the Hooter, and off of East Beach. They are hopeful that the albies will be in Edgartown Harbor by the end of the week. This may push out the small bonito that everyone has been going wild for, but it could bring in some bigger bonito. 

Small striped bass are still in large numbers in all of the inlets, coves, and moving water, though they can be a little picky with the large quantity of  bait that has remained in the water all summer. Small bluefish are also all over the Island. As August winds to a close, the fishing is heating up. 

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.