Pound for pound, there is not a more ferocious, hard-pulling fish than the bluefish — which makes it a perfect target for young anglers learning how to catch a fish. To the inexperienced youth holding a rod and reel, hooking a small, four-pound snapper bluefish can feel like hooking a whale. They tug and tug and tug (keep your fingers away from its sharp teeth).
Lev Wlodyka, 32, of Chilmark, one of the Island’s top anglers, learned how to catch fish from his father, Walter. And while many know him for his prowess at catching striped bass, there are many bluefish in the ocean that are afraid of him.
Bluefish are fun to catch at this time of year and this is a great fishing season, he said on Monday. There is plenty of bait around and the bluefish and stripers are out there. This, he says, is the time to introduce the youngest of anglers to the sport, for there is a pretty good chance that even a young beginner will connect with a fish. Mr. Wlodyka has advice for anyone trying to catch a bluefish for the first time.
“Try for distance,” he said. For those standing on the shore, use a lure that has some weight — a Hopkins with a bucktail. This is the season for the colors pink and/or chartreuse for fishing lures. Any lure with the two colors, or a combination of them, will help.
If you are out shopping for a new lure, use the single-hook version. “Treble hooks are messy” and unnecessary, he said.
Mr. Wlodyka said he has heard there is good fishing along the south shore for striped bass and bluefish. While Wasque is closed to most pedestrian walkers because of the steep, fragile cliff and the changing sandy beach, there is access to East Beach at the Dyke Bridge. And Norton Point Beach is a cherished fishing spot.
For beginning fishermen in particular, Squibnocket, Lobsterville and Menemsha channel are wonderful places to start because of their accessibility.
The fishing legacy of the Wlodyka family is being passed to another generation. Westley Wlodyka, 5, caught his first shore striped bass only two weeks ago off Menemsha Channel. “Essentially he was bouncing jigs in the channel,” his father said.
With Father’s Day only three weeks away, Mr. Wlodyka offers a tip to fathers who want their sons to enjoy angling. “Get out there and have fun,” he said. As he looks back over the years he fished with his father, he cherishes the warm feeling of two anglers being out there together.
Mr. Wlodyka said there were times he recalls when his father and he didn’t see eye to eye about where to point the boat and times when he wanted to be home instead. But when they finally did get home, he remembers wishing the two had remained out on the water, fishing longer.
Mr. Wlodyka said he sees the experience happening again and again when he fishes with his five-year-old son, only this time, he is the father.
Black Sea Bass
Local fish lovers were eating black sea bass this week. Although there are bluefish around, the black sea bass is probably the tastiest of fishes coming out of Vineyard waters.
The commercial season ended at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, so if there are any black sea bass left on ice, this is the time to eat them.
“I like it on the grill. Cook the whole thing,” said Dan Larsen of Edgartown Seafood. “The bones flavor the fish,” he said, when it is cooked whole. Others will take the fish and bake it whole in the oven.
Gut the fish and remove the gills, Mr. Larsen said.
Black sea bass is a success story in fishery management. The stock was depleted and it has come back more than most anglers can remember.
Massachusetts has a quarter million-pound quota this year and fishermen had no trouble harvesting it. If you can’t find any now in the market, the next best thing is to catch it yourself.
Mr. Wlodyka said this has been a good spring fishing season for black sea bass, for both anglers with a rod and reel and those who fish using pots.
John Potter, captain of the Skipper, a party fishing boat out of Oak Bluffs, has plenty of good things to say about the ease of catching black sea bass. Recreational boat anglers can enjoy catching the fish right outside of Oak Bluffs harbor. “I found this special spot. I call it the Deep Hole,” Mr. Potter said.
The water depth in Nantucket Sound just outside of Oak Bluffs runs about 30 feet. There is a shallow spot in Hedge Fence shoal where the water depth is 10 feet. Deep Hole has a depth of between 65 and 80 feet. He said he has found a lot of black sea bass there that feed on the deepwater bottom creatures. The winning technique is to use small strips of squid and fish off the bottom. Attach a sinker to the line to bring the baited hook close to the bottom, then jig the rod — a motion of up and down can be quite successful.
For commercial fishermen, the state Division of Marine Fisheries has announced a moratorium in the issuing of any new black sea bass commercial permits until further notice. In a release issued earlier this month, the notice said the decision was made “to better manage this fishery in future years.” The division and its advisory commission will discuss potential management revisions at its June 7 meeting at the Annisquam River station in Gloucester.
New regulations to improve accountability and to limit the illegal transportation of striped bass, starting with the 2013 season, will be the topic of a 7 p.m. public hearing Tuesday, June 5 at the Hanover High School in Hanover. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is pulling together public comment for Draft Addendum III. A key component of the new action concerns the mandatory requirement that all fish caught must be tagged on their way to market.
Kate Taylor, a fisheries specialist on striped bass with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, said this week that the commission is looking at ways to put a stop to the striped bass black market. Options for Massachusetts commercial striped bass fishermen could include requiring that striped bass be tagged by commercial fishermen. Or, it could require that dealers must tag the fish. This tagging practice is already being done in some states.
Hearings on future management of striped bass are being held in Rhode Island, June 6; New York, June 21; Delaware, June 7; Maryland, June 5; Virginia, June 18; North Carolina, June 19.
Memorial Day Weekend Fishing Tourney
Dick’s Bait and Tackle Shop is hosting their 20th anniversary weekend fishing tournament. Fishing started this morning at 12:01 a.m. It concludes on Monday at noon. Registration is $30. Fishermen with the largest striped bass and bluefish are eligible for cash prizes. Steve Morris, who runs the tackle shop, said that last year there were 80 fishermen involved. The numbers have changed through the years, ranging from over 100 to around 60 anglers.
The contest was first run by the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club but suspended 21 years ago when they didn’t have any bluefish. “It is just for fun,” Mr. Morris said. All the money taken in with the registration is spent on cash prizes.