FISHING AND OTHER
I had to wait until the final days of summer camping to experience the magic of good fishing on the coast. After a week in which I snorkeled to find a tiny flounder, the really big fish were brought in under sunny skies. I had a course in Fishing 101, where I learned a few fishing "hot spots" and how to use the tools of the trade. For instance, casting near lobster buoys may be a good idea since the fish may also be drawn to the bait below. The shore has pools and cavities that funnel the water. The fish may lurk there. Watching for small circles of surfacing fish may be an indicator. And, using the right tools, helps! The fishermen who showed me the ropes of their fishing technique, were up early before breakfast. They found a spot on slippery rocks, and began to cast with precision. The small lure would pop to the surface as they reeled in their lines. Before too long, a fish would bite and the rod would bend. Then, the fight was on to land the squirming fish. Stripers were most numerous, and were carefully measured to assure they could be kept. The Bluefish have no such restrictions, and two good sized ones were caught. (I can vouch for their delicious flavor!). One of the Blues is proudly displayed to the right. You may notice this fierce biter is being controlled with a gaff inserted in the head end.
Then, using the head of a herring as bait, a Dogfish shark was landed with much pomp and circumstance. It was a first for these shoreline fishermen, though they are more commonly caught on board the Yankee far from the shoreline. These fish are scale-less. You will see Lynden touching the sandpaper-like surface to feel the difference from the Bluefish and Stripers previously caught. We also noted the sharp spines located near the dorsal fins. David learned the hard way about the spines. We also marveled at the various openings near the head and the large mouth beneath the pointed head. At times it looked like it was smiling, at others, howling! You see the shark below. Notice its silvery eye, and gill slits. I read where sport fishermen regard this fish as a bait stealer. In Britain, its meat is used for their "fish and chips"! I did hear of one local resident who found the fish tasty when marinated and cooked. These sharks are not considered a threat to humans, except for those spines!
A final thrill was the sight of a fish surfacing and arching over and back into the water...all done very quickly with a splash as an explanation point. This was a Sturgeon. Why they announce their presence in such dramatic fashion is unclear. No one has caught one of these fish so far, but one of my fishermen companions thinks he might have come close. Remember the Sturgeon that I found last fall on Popham beach. Here it is to the left below. Can you picture that fish jumping and diving with that pointed nose? Check the characteristic plates that are set into the flesh of the animal.
Now aren't these stories enough to make you want to go out and buy a fishing pole? I know a few super fishermen who might share their joy in capturing these marine curiosities. As for me, I am still an invertebrate sleuth. In fact, while they were fishing, I found a small Sea Slug in a nearby tidepool. Fortunately, I was alert enough to take in most of the catching and jumping. 9/7/04 Ronnie, (something fishy!).