The Fishermen


Thirty years ago, the invention of the electronic fish finder helped fishermen out in their boats find fish. Today’s great device, the computer hooked up to the Internet, helps the rest of us find fishermen who know where to find the fish.

The culture of the Internet has helped charter fishing captains just as it has helped a lot of other businesses.

The Fishermen


Rick Karney, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, returned last week from an international conference on invasive sea squirts, where he and one of his staff were both speakers and participants.

There has been plenty of discussion on the Vineyard about invasive foreign plants in the Island landscape; offshore, the ocean bottom and the water column are also in a state of change. New plants and animals are taking up residence in coastal waters that may have a long-term impact.

Bait Boat

Capt. Wayne Iacono and a number of other Menemsha lobstermen are having a better autumn this year because of the help of a local draggerman, Capt. Craig Coutinho of the fishing boat Viking.

“If it wasn’t for Craig we’d all be in trouble,” Captain Iacono said.

Bringing Back Cod

Important changes came last week in the effort to bring cod back to New England waters.

The New England Fishery Management Council at its meeting in Plymouth established a protective zone for juvenile cod in the Great South Channel.

While it will take up to three years to come up with protective rules for that area, the decision sets aside a portion of open ocean where it is known that undersized fish need to be protected.

The Fishermen

The state reopened coastal ponds to shellfishing on Saturday, following a closure due to heavy rains which ended early last week. The state Division of Marine Fisheries had issued the closure to more than 30 Massachusetts towns on Sept. 29, based on the expectation that water quality in coastal ponds would diminish after three days of heavy rains.

Shellfish managers were typically concerned that road runoff would fill the ponds with excessive bacteria.

Bluefish Ate the Sluggo

Saturday night, an hour before sundown. The ferocious northeast wind from the day before has died, the only reminder a thick blanket of seaweed covering the rocky north shore. My friend and I are fishing. He has entered the derby; I have not. We trade off using two rods, one big, one small. The small rod has a sluggo, apparently the lure of choice for catching bass this year, the large one a popper.

Another lone fisherman stands in the rocks several hundred yards away. We can hear the quiet whine of his reel as he casts far out into the setting sun.

Sharing the Ocean

The most stressed-out fish of the sea, the false albacore, made an appearance a week ago. They scared the bonito away and now it seems as though both are absentee.

False albacore and bonito are among the fastest swimming fish of these waters from late August to October. They are a finicky warmer weather fish. It is hard to write a sentence about one without mentioning the other in the same paragraph.

But the prevailing northeast winds of the last few days have cut down on a lot of the boat fishing.

Whine-in at the Weigh-in, Ted Collins Goes Kayak Fishing

There are two things fishermen like to complain about: the lack of fish and the weather. There has certainly been plenty of complaining going on inside and outside the derby weigh station at the foot of Main street in Edgartown. The fish are out there but they are not available to all anglers.

Stocks of Striped Bass Healthy, But Still the Fishermen Worry

The striped bass is fun to catch and good to eat. It’s also enigmatic, historically prone to wild fluctuations in numbers and to inexplicable disappearances from area waters. And with the annual Island fishing derby opening Sunday, the old question is being asked again: where are all the fish?

Cooper Gilkes 3rd, an Island fisherman for more than 50 years and the owner of Coop’s Bait and Tackle in Edgartown, is concerned, for catch numbers seem to be in sharp decline.

The Fishermen


As the farmer brings in the last vegetables, in autumn the lobsterman’s season is starting to slow down.

Capt. Paul MacDonald of the lobsterboat Shearwater was putting some of his yellow-wire pots away at the dock at Menemsha Tuesday afternoon. “It was a good season, though I had to work hard to make the same amount of money as last year,” the captain said.

There is good and bad news in the stories he and others shared about his past summer.