By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL
August can be a tough month for catching striped bass. It isn’t that the fish have gone south or disappeared, but they are certainly into their warm water August state of mind.
“Striped bass are neurotic,” said Capt. Robert S. Weiss of the fishing boat Summer’s Lease, describing striper fishing at this time of year. Mr. Weiss keeps his boat, a 28-foot Harris Cuttyhunk, in the Oak Bluffs harbor and will often go to the eastern end of Chappaquiddick to fish. “I was out fishing yesterday morning at 10 a.m. and got 11 stripers. But someone went out later in the afternoon, same place and they couldn’t find one. Mind you, these are competent fishermen,” the captain said.
“Striped bass turn on and they turn off like a switch,” Mr. Weiss said. “You can arrive at a place and all of a sudden you are catching fish. Then it stops. They will shut down the same way.”
Bonito fishing continues to improve. Captain Weiss said he has spent time at the western side of the Hooter, a buoy marking Muskeget Channel. The channel runs midway between the Vineyard and Nantucket. “I hear about bonito being caught here and there,” Captain Weiss said.
Shore fishermen are still on the hunt for stripers. The best time is at night; daytime striped bass fishing has essentially shut down. Just before sunrise and just after sunset are optimal times.
One nice big fish was caught a week ago by 11-year-old Kevin Allaire from Connecticut, who was out fishing with Capt. James Lodge on the North Shore. He caught a two and a half-pound scup. The fish measured 18.5 inches in length and was weighed in at Dick’s Bait and Tackle Shop in Oak Bluffs.
Captain Lodge said he thought it was the biggest scup he had ever seen. During the week he captains ferries for the Steamship Authority, but on his own time he captains a 25-foot Sea Fox out of Oak Bluffs. His sideline business is Atta Boy Charters. “I cater to those interested in small-scale fishing, mostly kids with parents,” he said. Last week with the young Mr. Allaire, in four hours of angling they caught fluke, striped bass, black sea bass and the scup.
“The state record for scup is 4.5 pounds,” Mr. Lodge said. “I find that unbelievable. This fish was big.”
Doug Asselin, 18, of Vineyard Haven, weighed in Mr. Allaire’s fish. “That was some big scup,” Mr. Asselin said. “That kid was so excited. His face lit up.”
The commercial scup season ended yesterday. The fishery was closed by the state based on projected landings. The state quota is 377,742 pounds. Fishermen have been working with a nine-inch minimum size and a daily trip limit.
The recreational fishing season for scup continues at least for another month. Anglers have a minimum size of 10.5 inches and a bag limit of ten fish. The recreational season closes on Sept. 26.
Eli Bonnell of Edgartown caught a 52.7-pound long fin albacore last week while fishing with Capt. Jeffrey Canha of Vineyard Haven in his 35-foot lobster-style charter boat Done Deal. The fish was caught far south of the Island, at one of the canyons. The state record is 60 pounds. Long fin albacore is a good eating fish.
In August some anglers shift their attention to the open ocean, where water temperatures rise at this time of year, fed by the Gulf Stream. There are reports of yellowfin tuna and white marlin being caught.
The 63rd annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby is a month away and preparations are beginning in the local tackle shops.
Joe Uranker, a member of the derby committee, said the derby brochure, rule book and buttons will be available at the shops late in the coming week. For fishermen who have their favorite or lucky numbers, this is the time to get a button. Last year close to 3,000 anglers competed in the derby. The fall contest begins at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14 and runs through Saturday, Oct. 18.
The derby committee was unable to find a replacement for retiring weigh master Charlie Smith of Edgartown, so after reconsidering, Mr. Smith will return for one more year. The derby committee is still looking for a future weigh master, not an easy job, but clearly a rewarding one.
Mr. Smith will share the task with long-time veteran weigh master Roy Langley.
Volunteers are needed for the contest, especially people to fillet fish. Matt Malowski, who works at Dick’s Bait and Tackle Shop in Oak Bluffs, is coordinating volunteers. He can be reached at 508-693-7669.
The derby will not hold the annual hall of fame cocktail party at the Harbor View Hotel this year, as there are no new names to add to the hall of fame list. The hall of fame tradition began in 1999. The list of names has grown long and hall of famers are honored each year in the derby magazine. Cooper A. Gilkes, Kib Bramhall and the late Arnold Spofford are among those on the list. Nonfishermen who have been added include the artist Ray Ellis and Helen Scarborough, who ran the weigh in station for years.
Talk on Whaling History
On Tuesday, Matthew Stackpole, historian, past Sail Martha’s Vineyard president, and former director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, will give a talk on restoration efforts underway for the Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whaleship.
Mr. Stackpole, who now works at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn., as a major gifts officer, is a noted authority on whaling. His father, Eduoard Stackpole, wrote about the Morgan in 1967 in a book called The Charles W. Morgan: The Last Wooden Whaleship.
The restoration project is expected to take three years to complete. There is plenty of Vineyard history in the old 1841 ship, as Mr. Stackpole will explain.
The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Sail Martha’s Vineyard building on Main street in Vineyard Haven. Admission is free.