Gould says Messineo’s art draws a wider audience than typical gallery goers: “It’s such a treat when you have a little boy bring his dad into the gallery. They’re looking at the fish.” Gould adds, “She’s quintessentially authentic. The art is reflective of the person, and you can’t get any more authentic than Janet.”

Three years ago, Messineo augmented her fishing career by starting Vineyard Surf Caster (, a personalized, step-by-step guide to shore surfcasting. Most of her clients are novices, but they always catch fish, which Messineo offers to filet. Being on the beach at night, when the stripers are feeding, is a memorable adventure for her clients, Messineo says. “They’ll say, ‘I haven’t seen a sky like this since I was a kid.’ For them to be out in nature—I think that’s what they really love.”

Dream Caster

Sandwich couple Paul Koulouris and Susan Huettner went fishing with Messineo on their honeymoon two years ago. “She puts you on fish. She knows where they are,” Koulouris says. In addition to bluefish and stripers, Koulouris reeled in, after significant struggle, the severed head of a false albacore, complete with shark teeth marks. “It’s about hope: You never know what the next cast will be,” says Huettner, who appreciates the instruction Messineo provided to tune up her surfcasting skills.

Messineo’s passion for fishing has yielded rewards she never predicted. She says, “Just because I fish, I’ve gotten so many gifts in my life: the people I meet, I’ve got writing, I’m in the art galleries, I’m speaking at club meetings. Who would’ve ever thought?”

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Susan Spencer is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Whitinsville and Brewster, MA. She contributes frequently to Cape Cod Life Publications.

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