Spring cleaning for a cause


Do you love spring?

I do. Not as much as summer, but there is so much to love about spring.

Flowers are blooming, and fish are returning. The grass is greening up, and the holdovers are actively feeding. The trees are budding, and Coop Gilkes and the Edgartown Rod and Gun Club are stocking the ponds for the annual kids’ Trout Tournament. 

The days are longer, and there is more time to fish. I’m planting radish, spinach, peas, lettuce, kale, and carrot seeds in my garden, and imagining how good the vegetables will taste with fresh-caught fish. 

Clearly, there are a lot of fishing and outdoor adventures on my calendar in spring. For some people, spring cleaning is at the top of the list. (If you finish your house and feel the need to clean more, please come clean my house.)

Throughout history and in many cultures, spring cleaning signified the end of the winter, when doors and windows were propped open, and homes were cleaned from top to bottom to remove all the ash and soot that accumulated throughout the winter months. 

For fishermen, spring cleaning is gear prep. Reels are examined to see if they need a new line now or they can wait until August, so your new line is on for the Derby, but you’ve used it for a few weeks to make sure any kinks are out. Reels are greased and mounted onto rods, ready for the migrating fish to arrive. 

Springtime is also the time to evaluate our gear: Which lures need new hooks; which rods need a new guide or tape; which waders or boots need patching, and, of course, what’s missing in the tackle box? Fishing shows occur in the spring for a reason. We all want, perhaps need, new lures and gear. 


Clean to donate

This spring, when you’re going through your fishing gear, and you have a pile — large or small — of fishing tackle, lures, waders, nets, hooks, boots, and more, don’t throw them out and don’t let them gather dust. Donate your used gear to the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association for their annual Used Fishing Tackle Sale. 

The MVSA donates two scholarships to graduating MVRHS seniors each year. The club hosts a used tackle sale to raise the funds, and donates all the proceeds from the sale directly to the scholarship fund. Last year the sale brought in just over $14,000. This June, the MVSA will give away $5,000 to two graduating seniors who will major in either biology, marine biology, environmental sciences, or marine sciences.

“We’ll take whatever you have: boats, kayaks, canoes, lures, reels, rods,” said Donald Scarpone, president of M.V. Surfcasters.

I know personally that you can donate canoes, because I bought mine at the used tackle sale five years ago. That canoe, with paddles and life vests, has spent many hours in the water, and carried many guests through sunrises and sunsets. A sweet find for only $300.

“We’ll take anything to do with fishing — boat or shore,” said Donald, adding, “All items being donated should be in good working order.”

The used tackle sale started eight years ago at the Edgartown Rod and Gun Club. Members paid a $20 rental fee, set up their own tables, sold their used gear, and kept the profits. The club donated the rental fees. The following year, Donald suggested the club members donate their gear, and all the proceeds would go into a scholarship fund. The event was held on Memorial Day Weekend, moved to the high school parking lot, and raised a few thousand dollars. MVSA gave away two $2,000 scholarships that first year. 

In 2020, the event moved from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Even though we were in the midst of the pandemic, the club made more money. We all wore masks, maintained a safe distance, and sold enough gear to give away two $4,000 scholarships the following spring. 

“It’s all about the kids and helping them get a good education,” said Donald. “College is expensive. We want to support Island kids going into the sciences.”

The MVSA sells about 225 rods each year. “We have an equal number of boat and surf rods,” said Donald. “We’ve been getting more boat-fishing stuff the last couple of years. I can’t tell you how many lures we sell — hundreds, easily.” 

The tackle sale is a great place to gear up for any fisherman, but it’s especially sweet for families or people just getting into fishing. When you donate your gear, the club sells it at reasonable prices that make fishing affordable for everyone. 

The Surfcasters take some of the donated equipment and will put new line on the reels, stuff a tackle box, and make a starter kit for Island children who cannot afford new gear. 

The Surfcasters also set aside numerous rods and reels and light tackle to take Island boys and girls fishing. Last year, the Surfcasters took two school groups and a Cub Scout troop fishing.

“The Surfcasters want to encourage the youth of our community to discover the joy of fishing,” said Donald. 

If you have a child or know a child who can’t afford to purchase new fishing gear, please reach out to Donald, and he will get one of the starter kits to you. 

Donald will occasionally post items for sale on Facebook, but the bulk of the fishing equipment will be sold at the used tackle sale on Labor Day Weekend. 

If you’re not a fisherman, but help a family member or friend clean out a shed or garage and you find some fishing gear, please reach out to Donald. The M.V. Surfcasters welcome all donations.

If you have fishing gear to donate, please contact Donald Scarpone at donaldscarpone@yahoo.com

The MVSA executive board recently met to vote on this year’s scholarship recipients. Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School begins the application process early in the new year, and sends all MVSA applications in March. The executive reviews them individually, and then we meet to discuss our top four picks. This year, we were all in close agreement, and the selection process was easy. The winners will be announced at Class Night on June 7.


Chappy update

Good news! Norton Point 2024–25 oversand vehicle stickers are now available for presale. The beach isn’t open yet, but should be open in a week or two. We will need our new stickers on May 1. You can purchase your new beach sticker at edgartownma.portal.opengov.com/submit/6546/applicant.

The Trustees of Reservations order of conditions from 2023 has been extended by the conservation commission while the new applications are under review. You can continue to drive on the beach with your 2023 sticker. Check the TTOR’s Facebook page for maps on which trails are open and closed (facebook.com/trusteesmv).

There are two upcoming conservation commission meetings related to the TTOR applications for Chappy. The first is Wednesday, April 17, and then the following Wednesday, April 24. You can find the Zoom links here: edgartown-ma.us/departments/conservation.

If you follow the On the Water Striper Migration map, you just received the same email I did: Schoolie stripers are in Connecticut, and headed our way. It’s happy-dance time!

I hope to see you on the beach, driving on Norton, or at Donald’s dropping off some gear for the annual tackle sale.