Tag Archives: fishing

Exhibit Review ~ “One on the Line: The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby”

One On The LineOn August 30 the Martha’s Vineyard Museum unveiled its newest gallery exhibit called, “One on the Line: The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby”. The exhibit highlights the 67 year history of the annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.

I am a fisher(wo)man. I love to fish, and look forward to the Derby every year. I register for it as soon as registration is available and even have a number reserved for me; so it’s easy to assume I was looking forward to the unveiling of the Derby exhibit last Friday. After leisurely strolling through the other exhibits I made my way through the crowd of fellow fishermen and women and was surprised with what I encountered. The first thing you’ll notice as you approach the exhibit are the large fish mounted on the walls; each one caught from previous Derby’s. As you look around you’ll see antique fishing gear, buttons and pins from Derby’s past, photos chronicling the history of the Derby, and much more.  I highly recommend coming with a charged cell phone so you can hear oral stories about specific items or events from the Derby’s past.


I thoroughly enjoyed myself and suggest you take the time to go view the exhibit. Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $4 for kids. Visit monday through Saturday 10 – 5 or Sunday noon – 5pm. Located at 59 School Street in Edgartown, the MV Museum is 2 blocks from Historic Downtown Edgartown. The entrance is at the intersection of Cooke and School Streets with parking available off School Street.

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My Martha’s Vineyard Fisherman


At my house, you don’t have to look very far for some real and authentic Martha’s Vineyard-ness. You see, I happened to have married a Mayhew – the Island’s founding non-native – family. And my hubby Jonathan’s a longtime commercial fisherman to boot.

So, I sat him down and got him to spill the beans so that I could share my personal slice of this island with all of you…

Anne: How long have you been fishing on Martha’s Vineyard?

Jonathan: I grew up in a fishing family. So I’ve been at this for 50 years – since I was 7. My father and grandfather, and my great grandfather too, they were all commercial fisherman.

Anne: What kind of fish do you mainly target?

Jonathan: My favorite species to fish is harpoon swordfish. But in my life, I’ve caught them all: sea scallops, squid, cod, haddock, yellow tail flounder, grey sole, monkfish, fluke – my father was a lobsterman – bay scallops, quahogs (clams). Honestly, it would be easier to tell you what I haven’t caught!

Anne: Tell me about the camaraderie of the fishermen on the Vineyard?

Jonathan: We actually have great camaraderie here. In other places in New England there’s a lot of conflict between fishermen of different species – because their gear can get mixed up – nets and traps can get tangled, etc. But on the Vineyard – we supply bait to each other and we have good communication about gear use – so this doesn’t happen.

We even formed the Martha’s Vineyard Duke’s County Fishermen’s Association. We work together to preserve the environment of our waters and our fish. For example, we’ve agreed collectively not to use harmful gear – like the gill net.

Anne: You’re a Mayhew – the founding non-native family on the Island – what does this mean to you?

Jonathan: I’m an 11th generation Vineyarder…that and 50 cents will get me a cup of coffee on the docks of Menemsha!

There’s always been discussion about the wash-ashores being the newcomers – but the truth is that we were wash-ashores too – just a little earlier than everyone else! The only true natives on the island are the members of the Wampanoag Tribe. Some people put stock in how long your family’s been on the island, but most of the Mayhew’s don’t put any stock in it at all. My dad used to say, ‘The mayhews are like a hill of potatoes – the best of them are underground.’ Today there are at least 20 families above ground.

Anne: What’s your favorite thing about fishing in Vineyard waters?

Jonathan: It had always been the freedom of making your own choices and the challenge of making a living out of fishing here. But that’s changed a lot with government regulations. Some of them are good, don’t get me wrong – but they’ve really hurt the small fishing communities along the east coast. Maybe it wasn’t their intention, but it’s been the consequence. We’ve lost a lot of access to the big fisheries, the corporations. It’s been painful and destructive. Similar to agriculture and the damage done to the small farm. Sadly, it’s been a long fight with little satisfaction.

Anne: Where’s the best place to take kids to fish?

Jonathan: Up-island, I have to go with off the dock’s in Menemsha. Dutcher’s dock is public, has easy access, not a large expense – all you need is a small rod and a pack of frozen squid. You can also fish off the jetties. Another option is beach fishing – you need a little more knowledge (like sunrise and sunset are best). And even if you don’t catch anything, it’s still fun.

Down-island I’d hit the bridges between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. You can get striped bass and bluefish, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a bonita – they’re fast action, big fight, you need a good rod and reel.

Anne: And the best place for a seasoned fishermen?

Jonathan: I’d go with the charters. There are fantastic fishermen taking folks out all over the island.

For a list of great Martha’s Vineyard fishing charters click here.

Charter Fishing on Martha’s Vineyard

With all the talk about the annual Fishing Derby, I can’t help but think about a different kind of fishing – the kind that has you cared for, charter style.
If it is bigger fish you’re after than there are numerous charter-fishing boats available from all ports of the island and most guarantee you’ll catch more fish than you want! Captains of these boats are knowledgeable, familiar with the island’s waters and fish and are excited to work with fishing enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Here are some of my favorites:
Menemsha Blues Charters run by Captain Jonathan Boyd not only boasts “Fish Guaranteed,” but is captained by a former Harbor Master of the busy Menemsha harbor. Climb aboard the 31-foot Mary Sea and head out into the deeper waters for a yield of striped bass and bluefish.

Capt. Porky’s Fishing Charters run by Captain Everett “Porky” Francis has won the Best of the Vineyard for Charter Fishing and runs both in-shore and off-shore charters as well as half and full day excursions. The 30-foot Blackwatch White Water heads out of the docks in Edgartown and is open seven days a week.

Flashy Lady Charters run by Captian Dick Vincent may be your best bet as their slogan is “No Bass – No Pay!” The boat record is a monster 55 pounder striped bass. Captain Dick has catered to many other satisfied customers over the last 13 years as a charter captain. The Flashy Lady is a traditional 26-foot bass boat that carries a maximum of four adults and leaves Menemsha twice-daily Rain or Shine!