Fishing tournaments seem to stick on the Vineyard. Invite a group of anglers together and hold a fishing derby and their fun tends to come around again, a year later. That is how the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby was started by the chamber of commerce and they are now entering their 64th year.
That is how the Dick’s Bait and Tackle Shop Memorial Day weekend fishing contest got started, though the organizers behind the event changed hands. The Memorial Day weekend fishing contest was started by the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club. Mr. Morris took over when the club lost interest. It was just too good an idea.
This month, the Vineyard lost one fishing contest and gained a new one. There is no weekend Pink Squid Yacht Club fishing contest. That club disbanded over the winter.
Steve Purcell is offering a new fishing contest at his tackle shop, which he hopes will take hold. He is calling it Larry’s Bass Battle and so far there are nine fishermen registered. Registration is $25 and all the money collected goes back to the fishermen as prize money.
There are boat and shore divisions and so far the anglers are pretty fired up about it. The contest runs from Saturday, June 13 to Saturday, June 27.
“It is a good way to promote the business and a lot of fishermen wanted to do something,” Mr. Purcell said.
Of course it could be good for business. An angler must weigh in his fish at Larry’s Tackle Shop on Main street in Edgartown and the staff would be happiest if the fisherman also bought some gear.
Chuck Wendell has caught the biggest boat striped bass: it weighed 32 pounds. Julian Pepper, who works at the store, has the largest shore striped bass, a 27.25 pound fish.
It seems every Island tackle shop has some kind of fishing contest going over the course of the year.
Mr. Purcell took over Larry’s Tackle Shop as the prime owner last year. He bought it from the previous owner after years of working there.
Mr. Purcell’s fishing contest is hardly a true replacement for the Pink Squid Yacht Club’s weekend fishing tournament which raised thousands of dollars for nonprofits and high school scholarships. The event got big and the core group of volunteers got worn out.
Fishermen love to compete, especially when the fishing is good.
Pointing ahead, there is another fishing tournament around the corner. The 10th annual Fluke Tournament will take place July 11 and 12. The event is hosted by the Veterans of Foreign War Post 9261 and the emphasis is on kids.
Don’t go fluke fishing yet, though there are plenty around.
The recreational fluke fishery is closed until July 1 and it ends on August 13. There will be limitations. The fluke have to be 18.5 inches in length and the bag limit is five fish.
This is the first summer recreational anglers are facing a regulatory fluke season, though commercial draggers have been dealing with openings and closures for decades. Whatever your opinion about the fluke closure, it is widely known that recreational fishermen have an impact on the health of stocks offshore, just as commercial fishermen do. As federal and regional fisheries managers continue to grapple with regulating fish stocks they are looking at being more stringent on the recreational fishing effort which can be significant.
It is, however, awkward trying to explain to a youngster that the fish he catches has to be released.
Capt. John Potter, of the party fishing boat Skipper out of Oak Bluffs, has taken on the challenge. He has been taking the young and old to his favorite fishing spots in Nantucket Sound for years. When it comes to explaining why a customer can’t keep the fish, he said this week: “It becomes a class in fish conservation.”
Fortunately there are plenty of fish out there to be had that an angler can take home: striped bass, maximum two fish per day, minimum size 28 inches; bluefish, no minimum size, 10 fish per day; black sea bass, 12.5 inches, maximum 20 fish; scup, 10.5 inch minimum, 10 fish per day.
Mr. Potter said he is finding black sea bass in his usual favorite fishing holes. Scup are around. “I think the fish are settling in their usual places,” Capt. Potter said.
The commercial squid season ended on Tuesday in Nantucket and Vineyard Sound.
Mr. Potter said he recently bought 700 pounds of squid from one of the fishing boats. Squid are a preferred choice when it comes to fishing with a hook and line for anything that wiggles out there. Mr. Potter said he thinks his personal supply of squid will last about three weeks on his boat.
The National Marine Fisheries Service reports that the draggers still haven’t done so well in the region. Massachusetts draggers have harvested 451,775 pounds of squid and Rhode Island draggers have harvested 567,898 pounds in May and June.
Nearly all of the squid have been caught in southern New England waters.
Early this month, the director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Paul J. Diodati, extended the squid season for trawlers fishing in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds to Tuesday, because Massachusetts draggers had not yet caught their share of the region’s quota. According to the announcement: “The action will help local vessels continue to participate in the fishery that is managed under a federal quota on a trimester basis. Landings to date suggest the summer (May through August) squid quota may not be reached without additional access to the fishing grounds of Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds.”
Local recreational fishermen have another perspective. Cooper A. Gilkes 3rd of Edgartown, said this week it seems absurd that while squid numbers are down, the state would allow the fishing effort to continue. There hasn’t been a good squid run this spring or in years past.
“The squid run is a little bit better than it was last year,” Mr. Gilkes said. “But it is nothing like it was years ago.” Recreational fishermen like to count on jigging for squid closer to shore and they can do it through the year. Memorial Wharf in Edgartown has been a popular spot to squid jig. The recreational fishing effort in these waters is a tiny fraction of the draggers that work the Sound in the spring.
Quite a few fishermen on the waterfront remember when the large squid boats used to fish right off Cape Pogue lighthouse. This columnist remembers a huge red 90-foot buy boat anchored near Chappaquiddick that could take the squid, process it, put it in boxes and freeze it right onboard. Those days are now only a memory.
Squid from Nantucket Sound remain a highly prized resource, known around the world. Vineyarders aren’t the consumers. Boxes of squid get shipped overseas.
Tomorrow is a big day at the Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway, off Beach Road in Vineyard. The boatyard crew will be launching the first Holmes Hole 29, a 29-foot, gaff-rigged sloop, designed by Nat Benjamin and built at the boatyard. The vessel was built over the winter.
Mr. Benjamin hopes that the boating community will welcome the new design and he’s prepared to build more of them.
It is a class of boat that is best suited for these waters. Holmes Hole 29s are designed for the couple interested in overnight sailing as well as daysailing. The accommodations below deck are almost as important as what is above deck and aloft. The boat’s name is Sheena. The launching is at 4 p.m. and it is open to the public.