By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL
The best of the fin fishing season is far from over, but already attention shifts to the start of the bay scallop season. Oct. 1 was traditionally the start for the recreational season. Not so anymore, except in Edgartown.
Edgartown opens its recreational bay scallop season next Wednesday. The limit is one bushel per week. The commercial season opens on Nov. 3; the limit is three struck wash baskets daily. Edgartown selectmen set the dates at their Monday afternoon meeting, following the advice of the town shellfish committee.
Tisbury will open the season later in October. Recreational scalloping begins in Lake Tashmoo and the waters outside of town on Saturday, Oct. 18. The commercial season for the same areas opens on Monday, Oct. 20.
The recreational season opens on both sides of Lagoon Pond on Saturday, Oct. 25. The commercial season opens on Monday, Oct. 27. The pond spans Oak Bluffs and Tisbury.
The recreational limit is one bushel per calendar week. The commercial daily limit is three level bushels.
On Tuesday night, the Oak Bluffs selectmen voted to open the recreational season on Saturday, Oct. 18 for Sengekontacket Pond and waters outside town.
The Oak Bluffs family scallop limit is one heaping bushel per calender week. The commercial limit is three struck bushels in the ponds, and five struck bushels outside the ponds. Scallopers who fish outside the ponds must stay there.
How does the season look?
Oak Bluffs shellfish constable David Grunden said based on his early assessment the scalloping for dip-netters in Lagoon Pond could last a couple of weeks. He said scallops out in Nantucket Sound appear to be not as plentiful as last year, but there is still a lot of seaweed and eelgrass to move before there can be a better assessment.
Chilmark selectmen will set their scallop season during the second week of October. Aquinnah also opens its scallop fishery later on.
On Oct. 1 Sengekontacket Pond will open to quahaugging after its summer-long closure due to the requirements of the state Division of Marine Fisheries. There are plenty of quahaugs waiting to be raked.
Mr. Grunden said commercial fishermen have been harvesting steamers on the Oak Bluffs side of Lagoon Pond. There are plenty there, he said.
This has been a year for shark stories, and here is one more.
Paul Koulouris of East Sandwich and his wife Susan Huettner went fishing at the Wasque rip on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Koulouris, an experienced striped bass fisherman, retired college professor and school principal, caught his first false albacore. The fish measured 25 inches in length and he threw it back, hoping to catch a bigger one.
Standing next to him was Janet Messineo, a respected fisherman in her own right.
Mr. Koulouris hooked another fish.
“I cast out and suddenly it got hit when it hit the water. I had a strike that felt like the albie that I had caught earlier. Within ten to 15 seconds, I got a second strike that made the first one feel like a nibble. The next thing I know, the line is running off my reel. My 10-foot rod was bent over,” Mr. Koulouris said.
Mr. Koulouris was using a St. Croix rod and a reel with 20-pound test line. His plug was a Po-Jee, made by Point Jude. The lure looks like a sand eel.
Standing in his waders near the shore and watching his rod bend over, Mr. Koulouris said he thought, “Oh my God. This is a huge fish.
“It was funny. Janet stood next to me and said, ‘We are going to weigh it in. This is a winning fish.’
“I continued to fight the fish for 10 to 15 minutes. This is a derby winner. I am holding onto it for dear life. I just couldn’t get line back into the reel. When I looked down, the reel was almost empty. There were three runs left. I told Janet, ‘This fish is going to spool me.’ ”
After hearing some encouraging words from Janet, Mr. Koulouris said, “Behold, I gained some line.”
Just about the time he got half the line back into his reel, Mr. Koulouris said, “The line went limp.
“I pulled the line ashore. Attached to the lure was the cheek and gill plate of a false albacore. When we pulled up on the shore, Janet noted the triangular bite marks.
“I have done striper fishing in Cape Hatteras. I have fished Buzzards Bay. But this was quite an experience. I feel very lucky, because at least I got something. If the line had gone limp and I didn’t know what it was, it would be a nightmare that would last a long time.”
Missing Derby Wrack
Each year the derby collects all fish fillets that are donated and distributes them to Island senior centers. It has long been said that nothing gets wasted in the derby.
For years the fish wracks, the remains after the fish is cut up, have been turned over to local lobstermen and pot fishermen for bait.
But this year, someone has been stealing the fish waste before it could be properly distributed. Call it the derby caper.
Bait for lobstermen and pot fishermen was expensive this summer. Ed Jerome, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, said for two years there has been an arrangement with a commercial fisherman to remove the barrels of waste every morning. This year, on more than one occasion, prior to their scheduled removal, someone emptied the tubs.
Who will solve the mystery?
The Southeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center will offer a course on the fundamentals of shellfish aquaculture through a series of Thursday night lectures this fall.
Bill Walton, a fisheries and aquaculture specialist with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and the Woods Hole Sea Grant program, has put together a team of specialists to talk about how to raise shellfish, from the permit process to running a nursery and the business to predator control. One evening is dedicated to running a clam farm and another to running an oyster farm. The course begins Thursday, Oct. 2 and runs every Thursday evening through Nov. 20. The location is the Barnstable County farm on Route 6A in Barnstable; the time is from 6 to 8 p.m. Certification will be issued by the Southeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center board of directors. The cost is $100. For information contact Mr. Walton at 508-375-6849 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.