Carlos and Tim Bartolomeu

A father-son fish tale.

Carlos, age sixty-three: I fished all the time when I was a boy in Portugal. My family came to Boston when I was eleven, and my father and I used to rent a little boat and go fishing in Revere. I bought my first boat when I was fifteen. My father wanted to kill me. (Laughter.)

I visited Martha’s Vineyard for the first time in 1978, after I met my wife Rita. Her family has a cottage in Oak Bluffs. I figured there must be some good fishing here. I went shore fishing for the first time. Went to the bridge in Oak Bluffs with some squid, caught my first bass, and went crazy! Later, I bought a boat to keep on the Island – a center-console Mako. The guy I bought it from asked me to keep the name: Bad Habit.

Martha’s Vineyard is the only place I like to fish now, and fishing with the kids has been the best time of my life. I started taking my daughter Christina out with me when she was four years old. We’d get up at 5 a.m. and catch all kinds of fish. She saw me almost fall off the boat when she was seven years old. When my son Timmy turned four, he wanted to go out with us, too. I had fishing rods made for everybody – Christina, Timmy, and Timmy’s twin sister Sharon. Sometimes I took them all the way to Lobsterville Beach [west of the entrance to Menemsha]. That drove my wife crazy; she’s not a fisher.

Tim, age twenty-one: I remember me and [my] sisters going with my Dad for bonito back then. It was always very early in the morning. We’d sometimes catch the afternoon tides too. Fishing was an all-day thing.

Carlos: Sharon wasn’t a big fisher, but she won second place in a trout derby when she was just six. Timmy caught nothing. He and Christina were livid!

Tim: Christina used to be crazy in love with fishing, but she started losing interest around eighth grade. She wanted to spend more time with her friends.

Carlos: When Timmy was about twelve, he won the New England junior division tournament with a forty-one-pound bass. He went to a banquet at the aquarium in Boston and received a silver bowl. He had
a good teacher. (Laughter.)

Tim: In ’92, Dad was a finalist in the bonito class in the striped bass and bluefish derby. And a few years ago, he caught a thirty-five-pound angel fish with a light bonito rod. Weird fish. The owner of the Ocean View asked for it and kept it alive in the tank in the restaurant.

Carlos: Timmy’s been driving the boat since he was fourteen. We go out every day we’re on the Island, except when it’s rough.

Tim: Yeah, I went to the beach maybe four times last summer.

Carlos: I taught Timmy how to trap lobsters too. He goes and checks our pots near Tashmoo. Timmy and Sharon and I are the fish eaters in the family. Timmy’s the only one besides me who fillets. He likes to cook fish on the grill for his friends.

Tim: It’s got to be Island fish – bass, blues, scup. . . .

Carlos: We give a lot of fish to the neighbors. We also have a commercial license and sell a lot of our catch to The Net Result fish market and sometimes to Lola’s restaurant. I don’t do it to make a living; I just do it to fill the gas tank. My boat died a couple of summers ago. I’d had it for sixteen years. I love Martha’s Vineyard, but it’s hard for me to stay here without a boat. I bought a new Mako right away – Bad Habit II.  

Tim: When you live in Boston, all day you’re doing something; you tire out. But when you’re here on the boat, all you do is wait for the tide to roll in and out. Yeah, fishing is special for the sport, but it’s also about being out there with my Dad. Who’s the better fisherman? It depends on whom you ask. (Laughter.) I always catch the bigger fish. If you ask my dad, you’ll get a different story.