It’s a blue, blue summer


Are you seeing blue?

If you were on Chappy in the past week, there’s a good chance you were seeing blue — as in bluefish. Finally!

The voracious blues had been M.I.A. for weeks. Normally migrating to Vineyard waters by mid-May, the bluefish were a disappointing no-show over Memorial Day weekend. Technically, a handful of blues had been caught over the long weekend, but a fish or two a day is a poor showing indeed. 

On June 2, Ralph Peckham weighed in an 11.56-pound bluefish to win the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association’s “First Blue of the Year” in-house competition. Members couldn’t remember another year when the first blue was caught in June. 

We all hoped Ralph’s blue meant there’d be others for the rest of us on June 3, but our hooks came back empty. For an entire week.

Then, as if the fish gods remembered Martha’s Vineyard during the late afternoon on June 10, all the lucky fishermen near Chappy’s Wasque and Leland beach areas felt the aggressive bite and heard the glorious peel of their lines as a school of bluefish began chomping one lure after another. Not just one blue, which would have been great. Fishermen were catching three, four, five, or more blues. 

I’d love to tell you I caught five or more blues with everyone else, but I was home when the text messages started arriving. I had pretty much one thought all day on Tuesday — How soon can I leave for Chappy? 

My friend Kathy got to my house at 5:30, and we were on the Chappy ferry by 6 pm. When I parked my truck, all my friends had tight lines. OK, maybe not all, but if someone wasn’t hooked up, they’d just taken a fish off a hook and released it. Kathy and I jumped out of the truck and raced to the shoreline. 

Adrenaline was pumping. I started off with a Kastmaster. Nothing. Switched to a Hopkins with a red and white bucktail. Nothing. My buddy Kevin Lord was to my right, and he was up three fish to my zero, plus the five or six he’d already caught. After releasing another blue, Kevin said, “Put on a diamond jig.” He then gave me one of his, so I didn’t have to go back to my truck. I cast and cast. Nothing.

Fishermen have favorite lures, even lucky lures, and it was time for the magic lure. I pulled out one of my favorites, a blue and white Otnic. If you know, you know. If you don’t, I’m sorry for you and for all of us. The lures haven’t been made for years. I’m hoarding the ones I have. 

I cast. Bam! Fish on. The blue hit hard, and gave a good fight. When I got him to shore, he weighed 12.4 pounds. Excellent first blue for 2024. For a hot second I was in first place for the MVSA in-house derby — until Donald Scarpone and Ralph Peckham went fishing the next morning and each landed a 14.69-pound blue.

I was up in Menemsha on Wednesday afternoon at the Homeport for a cuisine article. I met owner Seth Woods. I just happened to be wearing my MVSA ballcap. Seth asked if I fished. Let’s just say we spent the next 20 or so minutes talking about fishing, who we knew, and where we loved to fish. 

I shared with Seth how great the fishing had been the previous two nights, and invited him to the annual Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association Chappy Beach BBQ on Saturday. He was all in. We eventually talked about the fabulous Homeport Restaurant, and then I got in my Jeep to head to Chappy.

I’d never caught a blue over 14 pounds, so I wasn’t focused on reclaiming first place on Wednesday night. I simply wanted to fish with my friends. The blues were in thick again. The blue and white Otnic got the job done. We were having a ton of fun. At one point, Kevin said he was getting tired. Life is incredibly good when you’re tired from reeling in fish. We were laughing when I felt the strike. 

The blue hit hard and pulled. He never jumped, just pulled me down the beach. I knew my drag wasn’t loose, so I was starting to think it was a big fish. There was also mung in the water, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. With aching arms, I reeled the fish out of the wash line and onto the beach. I heard Kevin say, “It’s 15 pounds!”

The blue was big and beautiful. We weighed him on two scales, just to be certain. 14.78 pounds. My biggest blue ever. I kissed him on the head, released him, and said, “Please find me during the second week of October.”

Kevin and Leigh were leaving the next day for the summer. Catching my biggest blue with Kevin there cheering me on and texting Leigh pictures made the moment all the sweeter. 

I had nonfishing plans on Thursday and Friday, but was back on the beach on Saturday for the MVSA barbeque. We caught fish, but honestly spent more time talking and laughing than fishing. A few of the guys caught brown sharks at night after I’d left.

On Sunday, MVSA President Donald Scarpone raised a glass to all the dads present, and those who couldn’t be with us. We all cheered, put more food on the grill, and cast lines hoping for blues, sharks, or even a stray bonito, as reports of boat bonito had us all hoping for a June shore bonito. I left the beach with a smile on my face and dinner in the cooler. The perfect ending to a week of friends and fishing.

I hope to see you on the beach, and I hope we’re singing, “It’s a blue, blue summer” to the tune from “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama.



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