A fin-tastic weekend: Fishing season is coming


Is anyone else tired of winter storms and canceled ferries? 

Last Wednesday, I received an email from On the Water reminding me that spring is about to bloom, and fishing will once again be an almost daily part of my life. Admittedly, I also received an email from Eversource alerting me to possible power outages, with yet another winter storm headed toward the Island. 

I deleted the Eversource email and focused on the OTW email, which stated, “Must-See Vendors at the New England Saltwater Fishing Show.” Doesn’t that just set your heart to racing? It definitely did mine. 

The fishing show — going 20 years strong — is one of the biggest trade shows for all things fishing in the entire Northeast.

I outlined my must-see booths, and counted the hours until I’d be boarding the ferry on Saturday morning and meeting fellow members of the M.V. Surfcasters.

When I drove into the convention center parking lot, the fun began. I recognized vehicles of friends from off-Island who were also attending the show. I texted Whit Holden: “I just drove by your truck.” There are few occurrences as wonderful as connecting with fishing buddies during the off-season, especially those you don’t see on Island after the Derby. 

Entering the Fishing Show, I drew in a deep, satisfying breath and exhaled contagious joy. In front of me were a dozen rows of hundreds of vendors – each selling something related to fishing. Other than actually fishing — and after months of waiting — this was nirvana.

My first stop was On the Water. I renewed my magazine subscription, and registered for the 2024 Striper Cup. Have you entered the 2024 Striper Cup? The gift box alone is worth the entry — gorgeous long-sleeve tech shirt, X-Rap lure, VMC circle hooks, stickers, discount cards, and free entry to Striper Fest in September.

I love the Striper Cup because it is catch and release. When the tournament opens on May 1, we can submit up to three photos of any length fish per week. And we can fish from shore, boat, or kayak, all of which I will be doing. Another plus, even if I, or you, don’t land the longest striper: We still have a chance to win the grand prize boat. Yup, you read that correctly. (Stop wishing and start fishing: stripercup.com).

Fully registered, I needed to start shopping for any new gear I might need. No matter how much gear a fisherman has, we always need more. The line between need and want is as muddy as the waters on the South Shore after a storm. This is a fact. 

Whit found me ogling an array of pretty flies. We hugged, chatted, and he asked if I was making my annual trek to Key West when the shelter closed. I shared that I’m skipping Key West this year and heading to Costa Rica to catch roosters. Whit told me I had to go talk with the women from “Wicked Tuna,” as one of them had just been to Costa Rica. Seriously? This was news too good to be true. Though slightly starstruck and intimidated, I introduced myself to Capt. Michelle Bancewicz of No Limits and her first mate, Lea Pinaud, who had just been to Quepos, Costa Rica. Whit and I asked questions like any true fan would — one after the other, craving more fish talk and enjoying every story.

Captain Michelle made “Wicked Tuna” history when she became the first captain of an all-female crew in season 12. Michelle got the call from “Wicked Tuna” after a video of her landing a 643-pound tuna solo went viral. Two and a half years later, the video has more than 5 million views. Check it out: https://rb.gy/0yrf12.

These two single moms working as commercial fishermen and starring on “Wicked Tuna” are back for season 13, which began airing two weeks ago. As of Sunday night’s Episode 2, Capt. Michelle and Lea had yet to put a tuna on the board. Pinwheel and Fat Tuna are in first and second, respectively, but I’m hoping Episode 3 this coming Sunday night will bring big fish and big money for No Limits!

I love women fishing and catching big fish, and my favorite woman to cheer on is my bestie Tammy King. She lives on Nantucket, but we fish together every chance we get. Tammy operates her FishGirlAck guiding business, and is pro staff for St. Croix rods. I paid her a surprise visit, and we hugged like there was no tomorrow. Then I stared at the giant wall-size poster of Tammy … and giggled. That was my friend up there doing what she loves, and sharing her love of fishing with others. Beautiful!

Tammy showed me the Avid Inshore 6-foot rod: lightweight, sleek, medium, fast action. Tammy said, “I could target bonito with this all day long.” My go-to bonito/albie rod is a St. Croix 8-foot Tidemaster, which is not part of the 2024 St. Croix line, though still available in tackle stores or outlets. The 6-foot Avid would be great for casting on a boat, so might be worth buying. You know, a girl has to got be prepared for every fishing occasion. LOL.

For the most part, Tammy fishes with the St. Croix Legend — at 7, 8, and 9 feet, 10.5 feet, and 11 feet. She loves those rods, and she’s dang good at catching fish with them. Last September, we fished Chappy, and Tammy had her Legend 9 and 10.5 rods. 

I picked up the 10.5-foot Legend and took a few casts at the display booth. The carbon fiber was light, smooth, and so easy to cast. I’ve got an older St. Croix Ben Doers Elite 10-foot surf rod that I picked up a few years ago at the M.V. Surfcasters used tackle sale. The rod has served me well on Chappy, but I’m thinking of upgrading to a newer, lighter rod with more action. Holding the 10.5 Legend was tempting. 

My absolute favorite rod is my custom 9-foot Century. The action is fabulous. It’s easy on my body, and I’ve caught all four Derby species on it, so there’s that. But there are days on Chappy when the wind is up, or the fish are further out, and a 10- or 10.5-foot Legend might be just what the fish doctor ordered. We shall see what the season brings.


All roads lead to Chappy

I had no sooner mentioned that the 10.5-foot Legend might be just what I need on Chappy when Tammy and I ran into Ross Kessler. Ross is the public access coordinator of the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environment Law Enforcement, which owns Leland’s Beach on Chappaquiddick. The conversation immediately turned to the state of OSV access on Chappy.

Ross has been following the OSV access debate on M.V. since “the first beach management plan was rejected. My job is fishing access, to the best of my ability,” said Ross. “My hope in the coming weeks is that people don’t get hung up on perfection. Perfection is the enemy of progress. I hope those involved [in the NOIs] do the right thing for the people. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We will be making changes and improvements as we go.”

Tammy had to get back to the St. Croix booth, and I needed to meet my teammate at the Derby booth, where another conversation on OSV access was happening. To say beach access is THE topic of conversation as the spring fishing season approaches is an understatement. 

The Edgartown conservation commission met this Wednesday, March 13, and will again next Wednesday, March 20, to once again to review and hear testimony on the three NOIs for OSV access on Chappy. If you care about beach access, this is the place to be: edgartown-ma.us/departments/conservation.

I hope to see you supporting beach access at the ConCom meetings.


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