From the editor

The catch

Wed, 07/24/2019 - 8:45am

No, I'm not writing about Jackie Bradley Jr.'s latest highlight, or one of the most memorable putouts in baseball history, Willie Mays' over the shoulder grab while on the dead run.

But yes, I am reminiscing about a different kind of catch.

One of my fondest memories of summertime as a preteen was walking or biking down to Pier One in Boothbay Harbor in the late afternoon before supper. There, a bevy of charter/party fishing boats would arrive with loads of fishermen (and a few fisherwomen), burnt from the sun but happy that it was a good day on the water.

I don't remember all of the boat names, but Lassie, Magnum, Gertrude R, Nancy W, and Sasanoa (with a young Barry Gibson who is still catchin’ ’em after nearly 50 years) come directly to mind.

As with the boat names, some of the captains and mates come to mind: Bert Rowe, Parker Leeman, Arno Rogers, Harold Wade, Charlie Wade, Ransom Kelley, Lou Young,Tommie Sewall, Phil Withee, and others.

But it was the massive amount of fish — and the size of the fish — which have stuck in my mind all these years. The big belly cod, some 60, 70 and 80 pounds, hung from the rails. The mates would still be filleting the haddock and polluck as the boat was getting tied up. The lucky fishermen would carry coolers, bags or boxes filled with fish or fillets as they made their way up the ramp to the pier.

Three of my brothers, Bruce, Scott and David, worked on the Nancy W as mates, helping the fishermen and cleaning the boat with hoses and brushes, after everyone had departed. The blood and fish scales are still vivid in my mind.

And the August tuna tournament, with the huge fish being brought up on the pier via a motorized crane for a crowd of people to see, was a special town event in the late ’60s, early ’70s.

Those days are long gone as the cod and haddock stocks dwindled before the turn of the century.

I am just glad I have those memories and that Boothbay Harbor was once known as one of the great fishing communities in the state.