Capt. David Dutra, 67, of the 60-foot Eastern Rig dragger Richard & Arnold, fished for fluke for most of this summer out of Menemsha. His 88-year-old fishing boat is an unmistakable old black wooden dragger that smells and looks like something out of another era. It is a handsome boat, the last of its kind, not unlike the captain. Richard & Arnold, out of Provincetown, is but one of a very few working wooden fishing boats left on the East Coast. They make neither the boat, nor the captain like they used to.
Responding to Gov. Deval Patrick’s plea this week for federal disaster relief for Massachusetts commercial fishermen, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Commerce said that it remains committed to the fishery and is reviewing the governor’s request.
Nelson C. Smith, 87, has had plenty of water pass under his keel. And observed many sharks off his bow. The retired Edgartown charter fishing captain, who has had many jobs on the waterfront, predicts an increase in shark sightings in Vineyard waters. As long as the seal population continues to rise around the Vineyard, Mr. Smith said he believes the seal’s worse predator, the great white shark, will also increase, as it seems to have done around Nantucket and certain areas of Cape Cod, according to recent reports. “More seals are showing up at Muskeget Channel.
The American eel is in trouble. So says James Prosek, author of a widely- respected book on eels. Last week Mr. Prosek told the Vineyard Gazette that he thinks, “absolutely,” that the American eel should be listed as endangered.
Close to 5,000 tagged juvenile winter flounder will be released this week into Nashaquitsa Pond, following a two-year federally-funded study. Last week, crews involved in the project at the Wampanoag tribe’s hatchery overlooking Menemsha Pond spent two days tagging the fish they had raised in the hatchery since last spring. Each fish measured less than two inches in length.
As if on cue for the sixty-seventh Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, the fish are running again.
There was a bluefish feeding frenzy at the Cape Pogue gut late one afternoon last week, one of those churning blitzes where you could throw out an old shoe and catch a fish. And out on Nantucket Sound, boats have been lined up like summer traffic at Five Corners as fishermen chase the silvery schools of bonito now flashing through the cooling saltwater. There are reports of stripers being caught on the north shore.
Night fishing is one of the hidden pleasures of the Vineyard. Travel along the beach during a bright sunny day and there are a few anglers out there trying to catch the big one. Visit the same place, hours later at night, and there is a community of quiet fishermen. The beach may seem eerie at night, but there is a lot of good fishing going on. And sometimes it yields some surprises.
When Vineyard physician Michael E. Jacobs teamed up with his friend, Dr. Eric A. Weiss, to write a book on marine medicine over five years ago, boating got safer for a lot of sailors. Boaters bought it and stowed it away with their box of bandages and antiseptic. It was a great addition to the required first aid kit.
The book enables all who sail or motor in boats to feel as though they have some expertise onboard to deal with medical situations.
It is indeed bad news to see that cod, once the most abundant fish in our waters, continues to have a hard time. Despite huge efforts on the part of fishermen and scientists to come up with a mix of fishing and conservation, the stocks continue to have problems recovering from historically-low numbers.