The Vineyard’s youngest fishermen will rise early tomorrow morning. It is time for the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club annual trout tournament, at Duarte’s Pond in West Tisbury. The best fishing will be for those who get their lines in the water early. Fishing starts at first light.
Cooper A. Gilkes 3rd, chairman of the event, said he and his crew of volunteers will be up at 3 a.m. to get on site and ready for the morning contest. Last year, close to 200 youngsters, 14 years of age and younger, attended.
Duarte’s Pond is a lovely, shallow pond fronted by public lands owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank. The pond has a resident population of catfish and pickerel, and every spring it gets stocked with trout. The fishing contest stops around 9 a.m., allowing time for an awards ceremony to be completed before 10 a.m. Organizers say the trout tournament is an opportunity or generations of family members to share the experience of angling.
Trout fishing is an early morning event. It is the time of day when fish residing in a quiet pond are hungry and more apt to go for the baited hook. By midmorning, the fish just aren’t interested. They may be leery or just not hungry. Looking ahead to a busy spring Saturday, even the youngsters have a shift in interest by 9 o’clock.
Mr. Gilkes and more than 20 club members and friends from the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters offer a hot dog breakfast to the participants. This year, Ed Belisle of Edgartown is again the tube steak grill master.
Duarte’s Pond was stocked with trout from Blue Stream Hatchery in Barnstable. Mr. Gilkes said owners of the hatchery, Wayne and Barbara Miller, are longtime supporters of the fishing contest. They dedicate a small pond for the raising of plenty of different size trout just for the event. “There will be brookies, rainbows and brown trout,” Mr. Gilkes said.
The pond also was stocked by staff from the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on March 21 and again on April 12.
Preparations for the contest were helped this week by the rain on Monday. Mr. Gilkes said he had volunteers out looking for worms and they found plenty. Monday night was a good night to go out and look for nightcrawlers, the more traditional method of luring fish. Anglers will also use artificial bait, and one well-known technique for making the bait more attractive is to decorate it with sparkles.
Anglers who catch the biggest fish, will receive prizes, including two new bicycles and various trophies.
But the biggest reward may be for parents accompanying their children.
“When you see that young child catch the first fish of his life,” Mr. Gilkes said, “you can’t beat it.”