New Jersey, New York, Florida, Connecticut, New Hampshire....from all over the country they had come to fish for cod, haddock, cusk, and whatever else they could pull up off the bottom on one of Gloucester’s premier party boats, the Yankee Clipper. People from 8 to 80, husbands, wives, children and grandchildren all hoping to take a few fillets home in their coolers at the end of the day.
Capt. Terry Smith pulled the boat away from the dock at 7 a.m. last Wednesday and eased on out of the harbor. With the twin 3406 Caterpillar engines rumbled underneath the deck driving the big 75 foot boat past the Dogbar breakwater, we turned into the rising morning sun, came up to full throttle and headed out toward Tillies. With a two hour ride ahead of us, we settled in, watched as the shoreline slowly disappeared and chatted with fellow passengers.
Bruce Tilden, from Hadley, Ma., had brought his two grandchildren for their first ocean fishing adventure. Ryan, 10, and Justin, 8, were already eating snacks and teasing each other about who would catch the most fish.
“It has been at least thirty years since I have been out ocean fishing,” said Bruce. “But I thought the kids were old enough and this would make a nice adventure. We came out last night and stayed at the marina.”
Ross Clayton, one of the mates, was in charge of the pool. The biggest fish would bring money and a free fishing trip. Almost everybody entered.
“I put in the pool,” said 10-year old Ryan. “When your life savings are $10 and you put in $5...well...I kind of need the money!”
With practiced ease and the help of his GPS, Capt. Smith brought us to our first fishing spot. It was a hump in the bottom of the ocean that he hoped would be covered with feeding fish. Slowly he worked the big boat around sideways to the very gentle breeze and brought it to a complete halt with a little backing of the engines.