It is time


“It is time.”

I’ve been hearing those words in my head all week, and smiling.

For those who don’t know, or have forgotten your Disney trivia, there’s a powerful scene at the end of “The Lion King” where Simba approaches Rafiki on the pride’s rocky outcrop. Simba has just defeated the evil Scar, and he’s tentatively walking toward kingship. Rafiki looks at the young lion and says, “It is time.”

Simba begins the walk, his steps becoming bolder as he approaches the edge of the rock cliff. He hears the voice of his deceased dad, Mufasa, say, “Remember,” and then Simba roars. Joy and celebration spread throughout the savannah. A new season begins.

I didn’t hear a roar on the Island, but I have heard something even better — fish tails slapping the water. 

A new season has begun on-Island, the true change in the seasons: hardly any fish to lots of fish. 

This is the time of year when you can fish anywhere and everywhere around the Island, and there’s a good chance of finding fish. Obviously, chasing yesterday’s fish isn’t always productive, but there are fish up in Menemsha, along the north shore, in Vineyard Haven, at Big Bridge, or “Jaws Bridge,” as it is more widely known, in Edgartown Harbor, and, of course, Chappy. And that’s from shore. If you’re in a boat, you’ve got more options for a day of fun and fishing.

I haven’t been all over the Island in the past week, but I’ve hit a few of my favorite places in search of a keeper bass. I spent some time fishing in Menemsha Creek. I was not alone. Fellow fishermen were casting off Dutcher’s Dock and both sides of the jetty. I’ve fished from both locations, but my favorite spot is wading into the creek. There’s something soothing and exhilarating when I stand in the water casting, feeling the current while waiting for a tug on the line. It is peace and hope in every breath. 

I fished for a few hours, until I couldn’t see or hear another person, not even a headlamp flickering. I didn’t catch a keeper that night, but the sunset was gorgeous. Well worth the drive up-Island. If the weather holds, I’ll be back up there this weekend.

When I’m limited on time, especially in the mornings, I appreciate how close and how productive Big Bridge often is. In the mornings, it’s also a great location to watch the sunrise, whether the fish are biting or not.

In the past week, I’ve fished Big Bridge at night and at sunrise. It’s been populated with fish and fishermen, but not crowded — with either fishermen or keeper bass. LOL. Plenty of schoolies, but no keeper for me. A friend caught a keeper but released him, watching him swim under the bridge and out into Sengie. 

Monday night I finally made it over to Chappy. I’d heard great fishing reports over the weekend while I was off-Island for a family event. I knew I would be chasing old fishing reports, but I needed to be on Chappy simply to be on Chappy.

Last Wednesday, the Edgartown conservation commission finally voted on the Trustees of Reservations NOI for over-sand vehicle access to our Chappy beaches. I, along with quite a few fishing friends, were on the Zoom meeting. Access is limited, but we have access! I can say I first breathed a sigh of relief, then took a deep breath, and did a happy dance while texting celebratory messages. You can read about the vote here: “Over-sand vehicle access approved for Chappy,” May 16.

I wanted to fish the Rip, which is not accessible by vehicle from the Chappy side, and I wasn’t sure whether I could get there from Norton Point, so I drove to the fisherman’s lot, and parked my truck. As soon as I got out, I heard an osprey cry. I spotted him hovering high above the water, hunting. I walked over to the guardrail and watched the osprey dive into the water and pull up a fish. Easy-peasy!


If an osprey is easily catching a fish, I had hopes of doing the same. 

With a sense of urgency, as fish wait for no man or woman, I pulled on my waders and started gearing up. As I was searching for the rose gold bucktail I’d bought at the Rhode Island Saltwater Fishing Show in March, Bill Batterton pulled up next to me. Bill is an impressive fisherman. He’s known as Bucktail Bill. Not only is he a master at fishing bucktails, but he also makes and sells bucktails. 

We chatted as I searched my truck. I had put a bunch of new lures in a bag specifically for this outing. I dug through my stay-in-the-truck fishing backpack, my large tackle box, my shoulder bag, and the floor of my truck. Nothing. No new lures anywhere.

I did have some older bucktails on hand, but I decided to ask the master if he had any on him that I could buy. Fortunately, Bill had a supply, and generously shared with me. I rigged my 9-foot century with one of Bill’s 1-ounce red and white bucktails and a scented bait tail. I also brought along my 7-foot St. Croix with a Savage sand eel. 

The stairs have not been put in yet, so it’s a bit of a jump to the sand. If you’re not up for jumping, park at the swimmer’s lot and walk up to the Rip. I jumped, then stayed to the left of the roped-off area.

Bill went right. I went left. I saw fish jumping in the distance. Birds were working like crazy. Not within casting range, mind you, but it does get a heart racing when you can see and hear birds working a school of bait fish. You just know there’s big fish around feeding on those same bait fish. 

I cast and jigged that bucktail for a good hour, walking down toward Leland’s and back. Every now and then I’d cast the sand eel, and reel in so slow I could have fallen asleep. Nothing. A few other fishermen had shown up, and they weren’t hooking up either. The birds were still working, but no one was hitting or finding a sweet spot. 

As I worked my way back, the fog rolled in so thick I lost sight of anyone around me. I realize the fog doesn’t affect a fish’s vision, but I’ll accept any reason for that beautiful bucktail coming up empty cast after cast. 

I haven’t caught a migrating keeper striper yet, but I will. 


It is time.

I don’t know about you, but I love black sea bass. They taste so good! Sea bass season opened for recreational fishermen on May 18. Keeper sea bass must be a minimum of 16.5 inches. We can keep up to four fish each day. 

If you own a boat or have a friend with a boat, next weekend is the second annual Fishing for the Mission 22 Spring Fling Black Sea Bass Tournament. The tournament began last year to pay tribute to the 22 veterans lost to suicide each day. Event organizers tag 22 black sea bass, and if you land one of the tagged fish, it’s worth $1,000. Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Oak Bluffs is an official weigh station for Vineyard entrants. Packet pickup is at Sharky’s on Circuit Avenue. You can enter this fabulous tournament online here:

One final sign of the times: All three Island tackle shops are open. Coop’s Bait and Tackle is open year-round. Dick’s had seasonal hours throughout the winter. Larry’s, however, was closed. Until now. Larry’s owner, Peter Sliwkowski, posted on Facebook that it is now open seven days a week.

It is time!

So my question to you is, Where will you be fishing this weekend?

I hope to see you on the beach this weekend. Maybe the bluefish will show up.