August 28, 2002

Fishermen Need to Police This Nasty Problem

Frank G. Dwyer
August 28, 2002

On a recent stroll along the sands of Plum Island Point, I could not help but notice the sights. I’m not talking about the majestic, flowing waters of the Merrimack, nor the wonderful views of downtown Newburyport, but the unbelievable amounts of trash discarded on the beach.

The stretch of sand that leads from the Point to the jetty at the entrance of the river was littered with everything from bait containers to underwear. Along what I was hoping would be a pleasant walk, I also saw beer and soda cans, food and food packaging, rotting bait and fish carcasses, condoms and unattended camp fires left burning. Plain and simple, that’s nasty.

I’m not entirely certain of what percentage of this disgraceful situation was caused by fishermen, but I do know that the public’s perception is that almost 100% of the trash was left by fishermen. Think about it for a moment. Mom, Dad, Junior and Rover take a walk at Plum Island Point. They see the shore lined with folks fishing and see trash on the beach as far as their gaze will allow. What conclusion do you think they come to? You got it; fishermen are slobs.

I wish I could tell you that I have a solution for this problem, but I don’t. I do however have a few suggestions.

If you fish, take your trash with you. Better yet, bring a large trash bag with you and pick up some other slobs mess. I started doing this a few years ago, and although I curse the people who left the mess while I’m picking it up, I feel pretty good throwing it in the dumpster.

If you see someone littering, speak up. Guilt them into keeping our beaches clean. As a disclaimer, if the offender looks like the type who might not take kindly to your suggestion or be carrying a weapon, let it go. It’s all about common sense; you’ll get the next slob.

While I’m at, here’s another complaint. I consistently see fishermen, and I use the term extremely loosely, mistreating and mishandling our wonderful striped bass. It’s not uncommon to see these alleged anglers kicking their catch back into the water, or throwing the fish through the air like some twisting Olympic diver. I tend to “educate” these people on the proper handling and release techniques when possible. If you are reading this and you handle your catch this way, stop doing it or find another hobby/sport.

The large majority of time I am proud to be a fisherman and sportsman. There are times however when I am embarrassed to be counted among the fishing community. I will continue to police and educate within the community on my own, and hope that you too will help make us all proud to be called fishermen.

It appears that the summer doldrums, while not entirely gone, have started to give way to better fishing. Nobody, me included, likes to think of Autumn’s impending arrival, as we know that not long after, the fishless winter will be upon us. On the other hand, some of the best fishing of the season is still before us.

Recent reports have indicated that fishing on Joppa Flats and the related area has improved over the last two weeks. Anglers drifting from the American Yacht Club mooring area all the way to the Toothpick have reported catching striped bass in health numbers, although most fish were in the 20”-26” range.

Liz at Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island reports that 20 and 22 pound striped bass were weighed in at the shop this past week. Shore anglers; one in the Merrimack and one off the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge caught both fish. One of the young anglers who works in the shop had a good morning of fishing at Plum Island point landing many striped bass, although most were in the 20” range.

Jay Ritter, from Captain’s Fishing Parties on Plum Island reports excellent fishing trips over the last two weeks. Cod to 40 pounds have been caught lately; with an abundance of market size cod caught each trip. Last weekend, several wolfish up to 15 pounds were landed. In addition, lot’s 8-15 pound hake were taken over the past week. Jay reports that the bluefish have been going “berserk” on the ½ day trips, with excellent fishing for all aboard.

The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge has opened for drive-on fishing, with only the south entrance open at this time. Parking Lot 1 remains closed for the piping plovers, while parking lots 4, 5, 6 and 7 are open and offer great shore fishing.

Bluefish activity at the mouth of the Merrimack has tapered off lately with the blues heading for deeper water. Fluke fishing has been fairly consistent in the river.

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