Fishing and other 2024 goals and resolutions

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I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I can’t believe 2023 is almost over. I’m still struggling with the fact that the Derby is over and there are 263 days until the 79th Derby begins on Sept. 15, 2024. My teammate Dave Balon often texts me the number of days until the Derby opens, so I’m certain I’m not the only one counting the days. Until then, there is much to see and do and experience.

The end of something, especially a year in one’s life, often leads to reflection, which in turn often leads to shifts in thinking, new perspectives, new goals, new dreams, or perhaps resolutions to do current activities better, differently, or not at all. Personally, I love goals, even ones that have nothing to do with fishing. 

As the new year approaches, and fishing is extremely slow, I’m grateful I can talk about fishing with friends, read great books about fishing, try my luck fishing on a warmish day, and write about fishing. 

I stopped into Coop’s Bait and Tackle to pick up a copy of Mike Carotta’s “A Long Cast” for a Christmas gift and started talking with Coop Gilkes about fishing column ideas for the coming months. We both agreed that ice fishing would make a great column and would be tons of fun if we get the ice this winter.  When I asked Coop if he had any goals or resolutions for 2024, he got a grin on his face and nodded.

“I’d like to get a fall stocking of trout over here from the state. My plan is to reach out to a couple of groups — the Rod and Gun Club and the Surfcasters — and ask them to write letters to the state and request trout,” said Coop.

(Even if we don’t get the ice, I’m going to write a column on ice fishing with Coop. Any time spent talking about fishing with Coop is time well spent learning about a sport I love from a fisherman I respect.  And who doesn’t want to hear about the time Coop took Janet Messineo-Israel ice fishing and she cursed him out the next day when she couldn’t move?!)

When Coop mentioned trout, I thought of my friend Sarah Sylvia and her 19-year-old son, Riley. Sarah often shares Riley’s fishing adventures with me, which have included everything from trout to pickerel to bass, so I asked him if he has any fish resolutions for 2024. 

“As a young fisherman, I have seen my fair share of fishing seasons come and go. I am a big fan of catch-and-release fishing, and I do my part to make sure that we have sustainable fishing for generations to come,” said Riley. “I would like to see the EPA more active on the recreational side, checking licenses so that the fishing can continue for younger generations because time after time I see people taking more than their daily limit of striped bass and nothing is ever done about it. And that needs to change so we can continue to have a strong fishing community on this island.”

Well said, Riley! 

I chatted with two of this year’s top female Derby fishermen, Lisa Leonard and Sarah Levesque. Lisa fishes from shore and boat, earning her triple crown this year from the shore.

“My New Year’s resolution is to keep my Van Stahl in the garage at least once a week and focus on fly fishing,” said Lisa, adding, “And to convince the O.B. select board that they need to find the funding for the failed harbor jetties.” 

Sarah fishes solely from the boat and held the grand leader position with a nice 15.51-pound bluefish until the final week of the Derby. “I would say that my personal goal for 2024 is to continue to enjoy time with my family, making memories on the water. Whether we are taking out the Whaler in Sengekontacket Pond to quahog, relaxing on the beach, exploring some of our favorite fishing holes, or watching the sun rise and set on the ocean during the days of the Derby on the Proline, these are the days I love and will continue to love in 2024,” said Sarah. “Sending warmest wishes to the community and to encourage them to also do what you love and love what you do!” she added. 

For those of us who love shore fishing on Chappy, the new year could bring new rules and guidelines for OSV access to Chappaquiddick beaches. Many fishermen and active beachgoers are concerned and have expressed their concerns to The Trustees of Reservations, Edgartown’s Conservation Commission, the MVBAG group, and the Town of Edgartown’s Park Department.  

Bob Clay, avid Chappy fisherman and longtime Derby sponsor, has one goal in 2024, “Get Cape Poge back!” said Bob. “It can’t be done by self back slapping. Back slapping has lost 40 percent!”

Ron Domurat, who has worked tirelessly over the years to keep over-sand vehicle access on Chappy, agrees with Bob Clay. His New Year’s wish and goal is, “OSV access to all of Cape Poge.” 

I’m in complete agreement with Bob and Ron and all the beachgoers, bird watchers, hikers, and fishermen who want continued OSV access to our favorite Chappy locations.

I found myself in a great conversation with realtor and fisherman Jim Feiner while on a treadmill at the YMCA last week. Jim has two awesome New Year’s resolutions. “I resolve to use fewer treble hooks in 2024 in an effort to lower fish mortality,” said Jim. An admirable goal, and one I agree to match. As Jim and I continued talking, our conversation shifted from fishing to our Island’s housing crisis. 

Jim helps many Island nonprofits through his company’s give-back program, but he hopes to do more. “I want to find personal ways to be more impactful in our constant struggle for community housing — start a REIT (real estate investment trust), help find a permanent shelter, repurpose an old building into apartments, or build an ADU (accessory dwelling unit),” said Jim. 

Like Lisa, I’m committed to spending more hours fly fishing next year, but my big goal for 2024 also focuses on our housing crisis. 

I hope to see you on the beach – walking, casting, or dreaming of warmer days and fish to come. Feel free to share your 2024 resolutions or goals.

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