By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL
The commercial and recreational fluke season ended this week. Fish markets are quickly going through their supply; if you want to buy fluke check with your local market. The last fish caught commercially was landed Tuesday. The last recreational fluke was landed yesterday. Anglers now shift their attention almost exclusively to striped bass, bluefish and bonito.
The arrival of false albacore is a few weeks away.
On Saturday, there were two anglers out trying to get their limit of fluke, before the season closed.
Floyd Norton and his fishing partner Roy Meekins, both retired and from Edgartown, have a fish tale they will be sharing for years.
The two left the dock on Saturday morning at 8. As Captain Norton tells it, they went to a fishing spot he has known for years but hadn’t visited in a long time. They were looking for fluke, using squid as bait. Mr. Norton said they had a pretty good morning in his 25-foot Black Fin center console boat, the Quee Queg. The boat has a 315-horsepower Yanmar turbocharged diesel.
By about 1:30 p.m., each man had caught four fish. The fish were all an inch or two bigger than the minimum size of 18.5 inches. “They were nice fish,” Mr. Norton said.
The two friends talked about trying to get a ninth fish. The state limit is five fish per angler.
“We had about 10 minutes left and we decided to fish just a little bit more,” Mr. Norton recalled.
“It was the end of the day. Time was precious. We had to get home,” added Mr. Meekins. “We each had our four legal fish in the box. We are both a bit competitive and like to be top dog of the day.”
The question was who was going to get the fifth fish first?
“We put our lines over,” Mr. Meekins said.
Suddenly he was onto a fish. “I got one,” Mr. Meekins said.
Mr. Norton had something on too. “I got one,” he said.
The two men reeled in their fish. But something was slightly amiss.
“We cranked up, thinking we would see two fish,” Mr. Norton said, adding:
“Then as one fish came out of the water, I thought the lines were tangled. I netted the fish.”
The two men looked in astonishment at what they had on deck. “The fish had swallowed his [Mr. Meekins’] hook and bait. And the fish had my hook in the corner of the mouth,” Mr. Norton said.
The fish was a keeper.
Later Mr. Meekins said: “I think the fish got greedy. I had a huge piece of bait on the hook. The fish swallowed it all and then took the other baited hook. How often does that happen?”
Mr. Norton answered. “I have never heard of that happening with fluke. I have heard of that happening with bluefish. It has happened before probably with a striped bass. But never with fluke,” he said.
Shipwreck Port Hunter
A sunken wreck lies in the waters northeast of Oak Bluffs that still draws the interest of divers. The Port Hunter is a 380-foot freighter that sank on Nov. 2, 1918. She was loaded with war supplies and was en route to France to bring provisions to the fighting soldiers from this country. The ship was rammed hard by the tugboat Covington. The Port Hunter sank on Hedge Fence shoal, a deep sandbar that is less than two miles north northeast of East Chop.
The ship still lies intact deep in the water and is considered a must-see for experienced divers, though the currents are known to be tricky.
Joe Leonardo of Vineyard Scuba in Oak Bluffs said this week he continues to take divers out to the wreck. And August is a perfect time for diving. The water temperature is in the 70s and the water clarity is good. The dive, depending on air, can take from 45 minutes to an hour.
“The entire wreck, it is still there, though it is in the early stages of decay. The decking is starting to drop,” Mr. Leonardo said. “You can’t get to the candle room any more.”
Mr. Leonardo will take certified divers to the site in groups of two to six people. He charges $100 and does trips on Saturdays and Sundays, weather and currents permitting.
Heidi Leonardo, Mr. Leonardo’s wife, also teaches diving and has made many dives to the Port Hunter. “What makes this wreck so good is that no lives were lost when she went down. I like that,” she said.
Mr. Leonardo is beginning his 49th season of assisting snorkelers and divers through his business on South Circuit avenue. The telephone number is 508-693-0288.