My annual summer vacation with a large group of friends and our families on Martha’s Vineyard allows time for a number of outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, beachcombing, kayaking and two time-honored favorites—fishing and crabbing. Our large group has made it a tradition to take the kids crabbing and fishing for staples such as scup and fluke (summer flounder) at least once during our week away.
This year we had some success fishing in the early evening for scup and fluke at State Beach in Oak Bluffs. Pictured is a five year-old girl catching her first ever fluke. Her father cast out the line but she was able to hook and land the fish without any help; a real thrill for her, her parents, and the entire group of us who were watching.
The fishing for scup and fluke was even better on another day at a jetty in Menemsha. Fishing with bait where there is moving water at an inlet to a salt pond, harbor, or river, or from a jetty or pier, usually provides consistent action for scup and sometimes other species such as fluke, sea bass, striped bass, and bluefish. This type of fishing is great to keep children interested.
When crabbing, you can use leftover squid from a fishing trip, other fish, or chicken parts for bait. Tackle shops in coastal areas usually sell simple traps for crabbing or you can rig a hand line with a safety pin on the end to hold your bait. You do not hook the crab; usually you can see or feel the crab pulling at the bait and then you pull it in slowly and use a dip net to catch the crab when pulling it out of the water.
Fishing and crabbing are a lot of fun and also help kids learn wildlife identification skills. My experience fishing and bird watching with kids leads me to believe that a child that views wildlife close up is much more likely to remember the name of the species and take an interest in learning more about it.