Notes from the Tackle Room: It's Not Over Till It's Over

There’s a tendency to think that Island fishing ends after the derby’s final hurrah in mid-October, and that its time to winterize gear and put it away for six long months until the first legions of migrating stripers reappear the following April. That is what most anglers do. But wait a minute! They may be premature.

Although we haven’t had a good fall run of striped bass in several years, it was not always so. Some years the run lasted through Thanksgiving and into December, and diehards fished until their rod guides iced up. On Thanksgiving weekend in 1979 Tom Taylor caught a sixty-pound striper and Bernie Arruda a fifty-eight among many other big fish they landed in a blitz at Long Beach in Gay Head. I have caught forties well into November and smaller fish in December at Wasque, Quansoo, and the mussel bed at Squibnocket.

There is an intense mystique in haunting the deserted late season beaches trying to connect with the last of the southward migration, and I find the aesthetic irresistible when the weather cooperates. Bass were late in arriving this year and there is reasonable hope that some will still be passing our shores in late November and into December.

And not all stripers migrate. Some hold over in various of our salt ponds and can be fished for all winter if the ponds are not iced up. I have caught them in March in Tisbury Great Pond, and also fly rodded hickory shad there in December and mackerel at Menemsha in January. And then there’s white perch. Come to think of it, the only month I haven’t caught fish on the Vineyard is February, and I have a hunch I can do that in 2015 with a little help from Coop.

It’s not over till its over, and its not over yet.