Vineyard restaurants and fish markets are now serving and selling fresh, locally caught striped bass. The commercial season officially opened on Tuesday in Massachusetts.
Commercial anglers have a season that will probably run well into August before the quota is taken. They are limited to fish that are a minimum of 34 inches, and there is a daily limit of five fish on Sundays, and 30 fish on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Massachusetts quota for commercial fishing of striped bass is 1,128,577 pounds.
Recreational fishermen have been fishing since spring. They have a minimum size of 28 inches and a bag limit of two fish per day.
Much of the striped bass landed here is shipped to mainland markets.
Tuesday saw a slow opening for the season. Alec Gale runs a 55-foot former lobster boat between the Vineyard and the mainland, carrying large boxes of well-iced striped bass and fluke.
Before leaving the Vineyard on Tuesday afternoon on one of those trips, he said of the day: “No so good.”
The hot weather was a factor.
Doug Asselin, assistant manager of Dick’s Bait and Tackle Shop, said the weak showing on day one was also no doubt connected to the huge fire that burned the Menemsha Coast Guard boathouse to the ground the previous day. “A lot of fishermen keep their boats near the boathouse,” Mr. Asselin said.
He said some of the fishermen doubled up on boats to go fishing. “They were teaming,” Mr. Asselin said. “A couple of guys lost their radar and radio antennas from the heat of the fire, or they were covered with soot. Their boats are now limping along,” he added.
Sandra Healy, owner of John’s Fish Market in Vineyard Haven, got three good-sized striped bass from her grandson, Mitchell Pachico, on Tuesday. “All he would say was that it was hot out there,” Ms. Healy said, referring to the weather, not the fire.
Those who could land striped bass were paid as much as $4 a pound. That is a great price compared to years ago when the market was flooded with more fish than retailers could handle, and striped bass dropped to less than the price per pound for chicken.
Scott McDowell had a great day Tuesday fishing for striped bass. It was nice to have a good day; on Monday, he lost his 17-foot Boston Whaler in the Coast Guard fire in Menemsha.
Last winter, his boat the Lauren C. was damaged in a marina fire in New Bedford. Fortunately, repairmen were able to fully restore the boat
The future of the Boston Whaler named Shadow with a 70-horsepower outboard Yamaha is not so good. “It is crispy,” Mr. McDowell said. “The steering wheel is melted and looks like it is drooling down the console.” He said his son, Ross McDowell, practically grew up on the family boat. “It was my recreational boat,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, Captain McDowell took the Peter Rolfe family on a charter out to a favorite fishing spot. “We stopped by the Gay Head Cliffs, right under the Aquinnah Shop. We hooked onto a huge fish. They horsed it for a while, and then it broke free. We went back to the same spot on the afternoon tide and the client hooked it again. It was a 42-pound striper. We found it had the tear on its lip from being previously hooked,” he said.
Vineyard Haven boaters can benefit from a free courtesy vessel exam tomorrow. The boat inspections are given by the Woods Hole Coast Guard Auxiliary. They will meet boaters at Maciel Marine on the shore of Lagoon Pond, and at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Boaters will learn if they have all the right safety gear aboard. If they don’t, they will be coached on the next step.
During those hours, the auxiliary personnel can be reached on Channel 9.
For more information contact David Pothier, a member of the auxiliary, at his place of business, Cars Unlimited, at 508-693-6544.
Some 150 fishermen participated in last weekend’s annual fluke tournament. Organizer Peter Herrmann said he was pleased by the turnout and the level of enthusiasm among participants.
A small group of youngsters walked away with some nice prizes. The event is organized to benefit children. “Only nine teenagers registered and four of them were on one boat. They cleaned up in prizes,” Mr. Herrmann said. One youngster won a bicycle and another received a kayak.
“The weather might have held back some of the entrants,” Mr. Herrmann said. The weather service kept forecasting a chance of showers and thunderstorms, although there were no storms over the Vineyard all weekend.
“Overall, the size of the fluke was smaller than in past years,” Mr. Herrmann said.
Don’t tell that to Peter Cox, an angler from Connecticut. Mr. Cox caught the biggest fluke in the 11 years the tournament has been held. The fish weighed 15.1 pounds.
“I heard Nina Patterson was fishing with him. The two were in a 16-foot aluminum skiff,” Mr. Herrmann said. Nina took second place in the women’s division with a 6.5-pound fluke.
The awards ceremony was held at the Veterans of Foreign War Post headquarters on Towanticut avenue Sunday afternoon which included a cookout. The winners are as follows: Men: 1, Peter Cox, 15.1; 2, Charlie Pachico, 9.1; 3, Antone Silva, 7.8. Women: 1, Bev Bergeron, 7.3; 2, Nina Patterson, 6.5; 3, Emily Willeston, 6.4. Kids: 1, Chris Ferry, 3.8; 2, David Packer, 3.2; 3, Radio Goulart, 3.0; 4, Charlotte Packer, 2.7; 5, Blake Nerney, 2.6. Teens: 1, Tony Canha, 5.8; 2, Joseph Turney, 4.4; 3, Evandro Medigi, 4.3. Sea Bass: 1, Antone Sylvia, 6.0.
Team winner: 1, Mad Kel 2, 46; 2, Slabmen, 43.2; 3, Breakaway, 41.1; 4, Poor Alice, 39.7.