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A-fish-ionados: CHARTER FISHING ON NANTUCKET FOR NOVICES AND EXPERTS

By Donna Smith Fee

“Nantucket’s

heritage and livelihood has for many years

centered on fishing. In the beginning, the Island’s economy thrived on whaling, before modern technology eliminated the need for whale oil products.

The Island’s people turned to fishing of codfish and other species, and thus the village of ’Sconset was created. All through the evolution of Nantucket’s history, one theme is predominant – the

sea and fishing.” — Nantucket Fishtales and Recipes

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angling for fish is a vacation destination for many and still a way of life for a few hearty souls who continue to make fishing their livelihood. You can experience the adventure and excitement of open water fishing by booking your own charter fishing trip. It’s more fun and affordable than you may have dreamed. Imagine this: It’s a clear day with gentle breezes blowing in from the southeast. Ocean water laps against the sleek hull of the 27-footer on which you’ve found yourself. The air is clean and salty, and you are thinking about nothing except what might be swimming toward the lure you have in the brisk Atlantic, just a mile off-shore from Great Point. The sun warms your face and you smile because you know for sure that this time a beautiful bass will soon be challenging you. It makes no difference to you that you’ve never fished before. You’re listening to Louis Armstrong as he sings with Bing Crosby. You sing along to the words you know: “You weren’t tied up, you old dog. You gone fish’in.” The kids are making bets on who is going to get the biggest fish. Kids? On a charter fishing trip? Absolutely! Nantucket sportfishing captains welcome families.

Fishing on Nantucket is as much a part of the Island as are the beaches and the historical downtown. Our centuries-old cobblestone streets would not be here if whaling boats had not used the stones as ballast. Before Nantucket came onto the national scene with its whaling success in the 1800s, the Wampanoag Native Americans fished peacefully from the shores and waters surrounding Nantucket. Without fishing, Nantucket would be just another spit of sand. Fish have fed us and brought us income for hundreds of years. Cape Cod is, after all, named after a fish. Today the adventure of being out in the open water

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The beauty of fishing on Nantucket, aside from the breath-taking essence of our shores and the deep dark blue of our waters is that there is no shortage of capable, responsible, highly professional fishing experts to assist you and your family on your quest for fish. No matter your level of expertise, captains and mates await to take you off-shore where the water is cool and the fish are biting. Another song by Taj Mahal plays in your head, “Any fish bite if you got good bait. I’m a going fish’in and my baby’s going fishing too.” Trolling is a sit-back-and-let-it-happen kind of fishing. It’s relaxing sitting on the back of a boat on a sunny day, letting your line troll the water while the boat slowly moves. You can handle the reels yourself or ask one of the mates to help. Once you feel that tug on the end of your line, be ready to bring in a bass, bluefish, or perhaps, a bonito. Many charter boats offer two types of trips: private or per person with a two person minimum. Rates vary so contact your captain for price information. Different


boats also go to different parts of the Island. some head out toward Great Point where the riptide turns up bait and often traps the very fish that you want to catch. One effective way to outsmart the fish is to hire a charter that utilizes a depth sounder with a fish finder. These devices are on most boats and allow the captain to virtually see underwater. Little blips appear on a screen when sounds are sent into the water. These little blips represent dinner. The fisher finder tells no lies, unlike many a fish story… . If fishing with a native Nantucketer intrigues you, call Captain Ty Anderson of Ty One On Sportfishing Charters. He was born and raised on Nantucket and knows the waters well. His love of the water and fishing is infectious. After you spend time with him, you will feel as if you have always been on the other end of a fishing rod. Whether catching stripers or off-shore tuna and shark, your day with Ty will be one to remember and you will leave with a booking in place for next year! So what happens to all the fish you catch? You have basically two options. You can eat it or throw it back. “If people want to keep fish to eat, I will clean them up on the dock at the end of the trip.” said Captain Ty. “l encourage people on my charters to release the fish they catch.” Many folks who are fishing on Nantucket are staying in B and B’s and don’t have the facilities to cook the fruits of their fishing expedition. However, should you be lucky enough to have both a kitchen and a freshly caught and filleted bluefish, then the world is indeed your oyster. By the way, if your fish cleaning skills are rusty, the mates will be happy to clean the fish for you. This article ends with a few delectable recipes for your fresh catch. Action can be the focus of your charter fishing trip if relaxing on the back of the boat is too calm an experience for you. Sportfishing is indeed a sport and can take all your strength and concentration. It taps into our most basic human need of hunting for food. Years of shopping in grocery stores and ordering cooked food in restaurants have not destroyed the hunting spirit in us. One trip for a fish will convince you of that. Starr Fish Charters with Jay and Lionel Starr, a father and son team, have over

80 years of combined fishing experience and more fish tales than fish caught in the sea! Their 35 foot Downeast Sportfish will take you to some of the best spots for fishing in Nantucket, and they know them all. Something happens on Althea K Sportfishing Charters when you’re out in the open and a fish starts to tug on your rod. Captain Pete Kaizer has over 30 year experience fishing on Nantucket. IWhen you go out with him, it is exciting down to the very aspects that make us both human and animal. It’s the chase and the fight. It raises your adrenaline and makes your heart beat fast. It’s probably the most exciting, fun thing you can do on Nantucket. And the beauty of it all is that once the

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struggle is over, you can go home at the end of the day to tell the tale.

Nantucket Outfitters, with Captain Bill Tolestedt on-board, will help you to enjoy some of the best fly and light tackle fishing on the east coast. His boat goes out of Madaket’s west end and traverses the inshore rips and shoals for stripers, blues, bonito and false albacore. A day with Captain Bill is as wonderful as a Madaket sunset! Don’t worry if you don’t own a fly reel or even know the difference between tackle and tickle, a charter fishing trip can supply you with everything you need. Just walk along the docks or simply call up a captain on the phone. They do love to chat and just as importantly, they love to fish. Once you’ve tasted fish this fresh, your palate will be spoiled forever by fish that had to ride in ice on the back of someone’s truck. Fresh is best and even better when you catch it yourself. Fishing brings you to beautiful places and you meet wonderful people. Nantucket certainly proves this rule. It’s not only fun fishing for our many species but you’ll also experience the beauty of the waters around Nantucket. There are a few practical things to take note of. You’ll need to wear the proper shoes. The deck of the boat can and most likely will get wet so dress for success on the water. On a more delicate matter, bathroom facilities do exist on the boat, however many are little port-a-potties that just

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cover the necessities. Be sure to bring sun block, a coverup and a hat. If you really, really wants to eat fresh fish, then join the ranks of the avid fishing population. Don’t be intimidated by all that equipment or vocabulary you don’t know. Like any teacher, the captains are eager to introduce new students to a world of excitement and adventure. If you’re new to the art of fishing, it may be time for some elementary lessons. Even if you’re in elementary school, there is a fishing boat for you. In fact, many charter fishing captains love to teach kids to fish. Once you’re out there, you’ll see how hard the crew works and how versatile they are. They are teachers, lifesavers, fishing professionals, waiters, tour guides, history buffs, maritime scholars, and your new buddy on Nantucket. Besides yur charter cost, please tip the captain accordingly.

A festive fleet of pristine boats and knowledgeable captains wait to take you on a fishing adventure. While out on the water, think of all the proud mates and crew who have gone before you into the winds and surf of Nantucket history.


NANTUCKET FISHING CHARTERS Althea K altheaksportfishing.com Children’s Beach

508-325-2167

Nantucket Outfitters ackoutfitters.com Madaket Public Landing

917-584-5270

Shearwater Excursions explorenantucket.com Straight Warf, Slip 1011

508-228-7037

Starr Fish Charters starrfishcharters.com Town Pier

508-228-6950

Ty One On Sportfishing Charters tyoneon.com Town Pier

508-423-5126

MAPLE BASTED GRILLED BLUEFISH

BONITO The striker will fillet your fish (bonito can be steaked if you prefer).

2 tbsp dark amber maple syrup 8 bluefish, about three pounds total Freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This is one of our favorite fish to eat. This fish must be eaten the same day you catch it. There are two ways to prepare bonito. First, it is great raw with a little soy and wasabi. We have this quite frequently on the boat right after a bonito is landed. Thinly slice the fish and simply dip in soy and/or wasabi. You are in for a treat. The second way we prepare bonito is to marinade it first for a couple of hours in an Italian salad dressing such as Paul Newman's Own. Place it right on the grill. Cook it on high heat to quickly sear it. We like our bonito (and any tuna) rare. You can cook it to how you best like your fish.

Pour maple syrup in a shallow bowl. Add bluefish fillets and turn to coat thoroughly. Set aside to marinade. Brush grill with olive oil to prevent bluefish from sticking. Grill bluefish 2-4 minutes on medium heat on each side. Baste fish with syrup once or twice until fish flakes and the outside is lightly caramelized.

WILD ONE SANDBAR SPECIAL (from Nantucket Fishtails and Recipes) 5 lbs bass filets (skinned) 1/8 tsp salt 2 beaten eggs 1 tsp baking flour 1 cup Miller’s Beer

Mix together above ingredients. Cut bass into serving pieces. Dip fish pieces in batter and deep fat fry it until fish has gold crust. (Should a "boatsman" run aground overnight, this is definitely a recipe to try in the galley while waiting for high water.)

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A-fishionados