From the Dec. 4, 1931 edition of the Gazette:

The first public fishery ever to be established in privately owned waters in this state will be the gift of the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club to the Vineyard public when the trout season opens next spring.

The famous old mill pond on Old Mill River, West Tisbury, will be the site of the fishery, arrangements having been completed this week, by which the club has been granted permission to proceed with its plans by Donald R. Campbell, owner of the ancient water right.

Further arrangements have been made with several of the landowners about the pond to allow passing across their property, and the remainder will be consulted as soon as possible.

Briefly, the plan of the procedure is to lower the pond and remove mud enough at once to provide a suitable wintering place for the trout, to repair the dam, which will raise the level of the pond by six inches, and to release the Island’s allotment of trout in the pond this winter. As soon as possible, the entire pond will be cleaned and deepened, and the club is assured that no finer trout fishery will exist than this pond will be when finished.

The yearly allotment of trout from the state will amount to at least five to six thousand, most of them adult trout, and often the number is nearly double that, so that there is no question of supply in the opening year.

The agreement between the club and Mr. Campbell grants the privilege of operation to the club for three years, and if the venture meets with success, it will be continued.

The idea originated with M. C. Hoyle of Oak Bluffs, one of the Island’s most enthusiastic anglers. Mr. Hoyle has studied trout and is familiar with their habits, besides being a booster for the Island sportsmen’s club.

For ten years the club has been releasing the bulk of its trout in Chilmark Pond, but changing conditions have seriously impaired the fishing there. The brooks have been scoured out by freshets and the silt bottom of the pond has been sanded. The trout disappear and no one can account for the loss. Mr. Hoyle believes that there will always be some fishing in this pond, but its value for trout raising has seriously diminished.

About a month ago, therefore, he broached the subject of stocking the mill pond to the club to investigate and see what could be done. He was authorized to state to the owners that the club will bear all expense, and his message to the landowners met with the favorable response noted.

Mr. Hoyle will continue in charge of operations, assisted by State Game Warden Gordon Spofford, who is enthusiastic over the idea. The report was received by the club on Wednesday night and it was unanimously voted to instruct Mr. Hoyle to proceed with the work at once.

The main advantage of establishing a trout fishery in this pond is the presence of the splendid brook running through it, which with its riffles and silt-lined banks, provides especially the need of spawning ground and requirements of young fry. That many trout will escape to sea is extremely unlikely and conditions do not favor the presence of otter or other destroyers of fish. A substantial increase in the tout supply is therefore confidently expected from year to year.

Commenting on the project, Mr. Hoyle said: “It is my ambition in this thing to bring home to all Island sportsmen the fact that the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club is an Island institution, maintained for the benefit of every person in the county who loves hunting and fishing. It cannot be said that any member of the club will benefit more than any non-member in this case, but we are assuming the expense and responsibility gladly, to express our good will and interest in sports for all Islanders and visitors.

“As we are leading the state in this particular enterprise, so we have led before, although we haven’t made any particular noise about it. In simple justice to the club, however, it might well be mentioned that we were responsible for the chance in the federal wild fowl regulation this year, obtaining a more favorable season for the hunting, and it is entirely through our efforts that the Vineyard is so well treated by the state in stocking our streams and covers.

“Conditions have reached a point where sportsmen can expect but little consideration except through an organization, and the club hopes that this latest move may influence an Island-wide move to organize under our name. The club dues are a matter of secondary consideration, but we need the moral support of every Island sportsman and we honestly believe the club merits that support.”

Mr. Hoyle said that respect for the rights of property owners will receive every consideration, and that cranberry bog owners and others along the Mill Brook will be consulted, ad their wishes acceded to in every act that may affect the flow of water.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox