Down at the Menemsha docks on an early October evening, a regular is out casting into the harbor. He’s dressed for the occasion in red rubber boots and rain pants and a bright yellow rain jacket. His blue derby hat is decked with four pins — one with his derby number, two daily bluefish award pins, and one junior angler pin.
And of course five-year-old Grady Keefe of Menemsha is wearing his faded yellow life jacket.
There is endless fascination about sharks, and the Monster Shark Tournament staged annually every July by the Boston Big Game Fishing Club has long been an attraction for people of all stripes — shark lovers, scientists, protesters and the just plain curious. For two days at the height of summer, Oak Bluffs is transformed as huge crowds pour in to witness the spectacle.
David Nash of Edgartown was in the process of explaining how artificial fly lures are made when a neighboring fisherman’s rod bowed toward the water. A distinct whirring sound zipped through the air and the angler’s line raced out into Edgartown Harbor.
Capt. David Dutra, 67, of the 60-foot Eastern Rig dragger Richard & Arnold, fished for fluke for most of this summer out of Menemsha. His 88-year-old fishing boat is an unmistakable old black wooden dragger that smells and looks like something out of another era. It is a handsome boat, the last of its kind, not unlike the captain. Richard & Arnold, out of Provincetown, is but one of a very few working wooden fishing boats left on the East Coast. They make neither the boat, nor the captain like they used to.
Responding to Gov. Deval Patrick’s plea this week for federal disaster relief for Massachusetts commercial fishermen, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Commerce said that it remains committed to the fishery and is reviewing the governor’s request.
Nelson C. Smith, 87, has had plenty of water pass under his keel. And observed many sharks off his bow. The retired Edgartown charter fishing captain, who has had many jobs on the waterfront, predicts an increase in shark sightings in Vineyard waters. As long as the seal population continues to rise around the Vineyard, Mr. Smith said he believes the seal’s worse predator, the great white shark, will also increase, as it seems to have done around Nantucket and certain areas of Cape Cod, according to recent reports. “More seals are showing up at Muskeget Channel.
The American eel is in trouble. So says James Prosek, author of a widely- respected book on eels. Last week Mr. Prosek told the Vineyard Gazette that he thinks, “absolutely,” that the American eel should be listed as endangered.
Close to 5,000 tagged juvenile winter flounder will be released this week into Nashaquitsa Pond, following a two-year federally-funded study. Last week, crews involved in the project at the Wampanoag tribe’s hatchery overlooking Menemsha Pond spent two days tagging the fish they had raised in the hatchery since last spring. Each fish measured less than two inches in length.
As if on cue for the sixty-seventh Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, the fish are running again.
There was a bluefish feeding frenzy at the Cape Pogue gut late one afternoon last week, one of those churning blitzes where you could throw out an old shoe and catch a fish. And out on Nantucket Sound, boats have been lined up like summer traffic at Five Corners as fishermen chase the silvery schools of bonito now flashing through the cooling saltwater. There are reports of stripers being caught on the north shore.