One of the biggest heartbreaks for me through the years living here every summer is watching this classic fishing village become less and less of that. Families who could no longer make a decent living fishing have had to pull up stakes and leave, one by one.
With the mass exodus of fishing families came the evaporation of deep-rooted traditions. Generations of seasoned salty men teaching the next generation their craft and passing down the skills of fishing and seamanship and the wisdom of the sea.
When I ran the Cee-Jay back in the 1990s, getting a mate to work on the boat for the summer was easy. There were many sons of commercial fishing captains and mates willing and able to do the work — and they came with a solid set of skills. Today it is extremely difficult to find a warm body who wants to be a mate, never mind a mate with fishing and boating skills.
I was always envious of the father-son teaching dynamic in the fishing world, as I came from a family of airline workers and didn’t get to experience that. I was the only one in my family who pined for the sea and fishing. Consequently, I had to learn the craft on my own from good-hearted but nonfamily mentors.
Which brings me to Zach Salvador.
Zach caught his first solo giant bluefin tuna last week. It was a beauty, too, and in a tight, thin market for bluefin, it got sold and shipped to Japan.
On the surface, this is no big deal. Guys and gals bring in giant bluefin tuna all the time here. It’s part of Provincetown’s charm.
But when you peel back the layers, you find something extraordinary.
Zach learned the craft of bluefin tuna fishing from his dad, Jon, who learned it from his dad, Edward. It is comforting to know the age-old tradition of passing down methods and tricks of catching fish from generation to generation is still happening in our little fishing town, albeit on a much smaller scale than it once was.
It warmed my heart to see this. Zach will never forget his first solo giant. One never does. I remember mine as if it happened yesterday. I remember every single detail about it, but mostly I remember a feeling of joy and pride unlike anything I had ever felt before at that stage in my life. I was walking on a cloud for days.
So, well done, Zach. The Salvadors are keeping this tradition alive, and for that I applaud them. The day may come when it no longer exists. But for now, this noble rite of passage still has a heartbeat in Provincetown. We ain’t done yet.
On the local fishing front, bluefish have returned to our waters since their disappearance after our summer nor’easter, but it hasn’t been as good as it was before. The fish aren’t as widespread as they were, and they have been finicky about biting.
Striped bass are still camped solidly from Herring Cove to the Race, but are also being very finicky about eating. Mackerel have pretty much departed the bay and are sporadically in the rips at the Race, so getting bait for bass fishing has been a bit challenging at times.
Flounder fishing remains very good, with the same few guys limiting out regularly. We caught a few keeper fluke on the Cee-Jay last week, and I would say it’s probably worth a try to drift with some sand eels and bucktails along the shoal waters of Herring Cove and Hatches Harbor.
Bonito are also being caught here and there in the bay by fishermen targeting bluefish and bass.