A rare weakfish was caught last Saturday night by a local angler. Donald Lynch, 43, of Vineyard Haven, said he was entirely surprised by the catch. The fish was caught from the beach at the Lagoon Pond drawbridge. “On the very first cast I hooked up a fish and when I landed it, I discovered it was a 24-and-a-half-inch, three-plus pound weakfish,” Mr. Lynch said.
He said the last time he caught a weakfish was 25 years ago.
Weakfish are now rare in Vineyard waters, though they were once so abundant they were caught by the barrelful here, and excess fish were used as fertilizer. The largest populations of weakfish are now found in the waters off New Jersey.
Federal and state fisheries managers have been working hard in recent years to bring about a recovery; there have been talks about a ban on harvesting weakfish in some areas. Also called squeteague, the weakfish was once one of the prize fish caught in the fall Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. The fish was removed from the contest after none were caught during the 1987 derby.
Mr. Lynch said he knew what the fish was when he saw it. “I was born and raised on Cuttyhunk,” he said. “That is where I caught the last one.”
— Mark Alan Lovewell