First dunked a worm in Otsego Lake (upstate NY) some 68 years ago and began pursuing striped bass in Cape Cod waters 40 years ago. Pretty soon I should be able to get it right...maybe.
December 06, 2013
Quiet In the Salt But Action In the Sweetwater
by Jerry Vovcsko
Hunting season on Martha's Vineyard is underway. Typically, that consists of traipsing through the scrub pine and tick infested underbrush and maybe getting a shot at one of the underfed, undersized bucks that proliferate the island these days. Some modern day hunters attempt to up the enjoyment level by arming themselves with black powder weaponry such as the Kentucky long rifle wielded by Daniel Boone and his cronies in days of yore.
But the annual deer hunt on the Vineyard took a turn toward the bizarre when Steven Carlson, 49, of Oak Bluffs, allegedly aimed his Ruger 77 modern black powder rifle at another hunter instead of a deer. Carlson was promptly arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon stemming from the incident, according to a statement from Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi.
When the first report of the incident came in police issued an alert and a nearby local school was locked down. Things ramped up as a police search for Carlson ensued at a nearby swamp, with assistance from multiple departments, according to Chilmark police. A short time later State police were brought in and lent the use of two helicopters. They were on the scene until late afternoon and the situation resolved peacefully when Carlson turned himself in after friends and family convinced him to do so and his bail was set at $2,000, according to Chilmark police. Why a gun was pointed at another hunter is not clear at this time and the incident remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, problems continue to emerge in the waters around the world. As if the presence of invasive fish like snakeheads and Asian carp wasn't already problematic, a new species may have arrived on the scene, namely, the Eurasian ruffe.
Genetic material from this species has been found in southern Lake Michigan for the first time, raising the possibility that it could migrate into the Mississippi River watershed and compete with native fish there, scientists say. Researchers testing Great Lakes waters for signs of Asian carp and other invasive species detected DNA from the ruffe in two samples taken in July from Lake Michigan's Calumet Harbor at Chicago, said Lindsay Chadderton of The Nature Conservancy, a member of the research team.
No actual ruffe were seen and State and federal officials downplayed the likelihood that the DNA discovery signaled a significant presence of the exotic fish even as they urged anglers to be on the lookout for them. Still, Chadderton urged the agencies to take the threat seriously and step up monitoring of Chicago-area waters.
"This could be the first indication that Eurasian ruffe are on the cusp of using the Chicago canal system to invade the Mississippi," he said.
You like to think that it would be a fairly uneventful matter to get in your kayak and head out for a little local fishing, but that's not always how it goes. Earlier this week a kayak fisherman died after a shark attack in Hawaii. Maui County Ocean Safety officials received a report that a shark attacked a man fishing in a kayak between Maui and Molokini, a small island less than 3 miles off the southwest coast of Maui that is popular for diving and snorkeling.
Maui County police identified the man as Patrick Briney, 57, of Stevenson, Wash. The shark bit his dangling foot while he fished with artificial lures to attract baitfish. His fishing partner in another kayak tied a tourniquet on the man and sought help from a nearby charter tour boat. The boat took them to shore, and the man was transported to a hospital.
And back in August, a German tourist died a week after losing her arm in a shark attack. Jana Lutteropp, 20, was snorkeling up to 100 yards off a beach in southwest Maui when the shark bit off her right arm. Before Lutteropp's death, the last shark attack fatality in Hawaii was in 2004, when a tiger shark bit Willis McInnis' leg while he was surfing in Maui.
Scientists haven't figured out why sharks attack have increased this year. If this keeps up it might just be time to bring Quint, Hooper and sheriff Brodie back out of retirement to deal with these increasingly bold sharks.
"Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain…"
Cold weather, high winds and chilling rain has kept the salt water action to a minimum lately. A few local anglers continue to work the rivers, creeks and estuaries looking for a stray striper or two but for the most part the 2013 recreational fishing season is finito. However, the action is lively on the freshwater scene where anglers have been taking trout, salmon, bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – as well as pickerel and, in one or two Cape lakes, northern pike in double digit weights. PowerBait and shiners have been the popular baits for trout and locations such as Peters Pond in Sandwich; Sheeps and Cliff ponds in Brewster; Mashpee-Wakeby Pond in Mashpee and Grews Pond in Falmouth have been among the more productive sites.
One lightly fished pond that deserves more largemouth activity is Lawrence Pond in Sandwich. With maximum depths of 27 feet, Lawrence harbors an extensive largemouth population. Jigging with plastic worms and working buzzbaits along the surface will bring good results this time of year. Pay attention to the small coves and be sure to cast around the points of these bays. Lawrence is well protected from the wind and on a breezy day it's a good place to fish in safety and comfort. There are plenty of yellow perch in residence and tossing metal slabs around the edges of weed beds will likely turn up a nice pickerel or two.
Looks like the Yankees have signed speedy center fielder and base-stealer par excellence Jacoby Ellsbury away from the Red Sox.
Well, Sox fans wish him well as he helped bring two World Series titles to Boston and played hard for the Boys of Summer. Yankee fans will enjoy watching Jacoby going from first to third on a base hit…as they say, you can't teach speed. Only four months to Opening Day!
November 30, 2013
Let's Hear it For the Wild Turkey
by Jerry Vovcsko
Thanksgiving, except for turkey leftovers, is in the rearview mirror now as Christmas looms on the horizon. But before all thoughts of Thanksgiving fade into dim memories, it's worth a quick look at the guest of honor at some of those Thanksgiving dinner festivities, namely, Meleagris gallopavo, the American wild turkey.
A century ago, with a population of only 30,000, these birds were on the road to extinction. Today, they number 5.4 million. Habitat destruction and overhunting by early European colonists had put the wild turkey—North America's largest ground-nesting bird—on the road to extinction. Before the colonists arrived, millions of turkeys roamed across what are now 38 states, Mexico, and Canada. As the colonists worked to clear land for their homes, farms, and pastures, the most easily available food other than deer was wild turkey.
By the time the forests were cleared and wetlands drained to make room for rice, cotton, and other crops, wild turkeys had no habitat to call their own and no place in which to hide from their predators, including their number one predator: people. By 1851 wild turkeys were extinct in Massachusetts; by 1907 they had disappeared completely in Iowa. This pattern repeated itself over and over as the colonists settled across the country, killing turkeys and deer for sustenance while they cleared forests, planted their fields and started new lives.
By the 1930s, the only the places where wild turkeys remained were pockets of habitat inaccessible to people, such as the mountainous landscape of Pennsylvania's Poconos and the swamps of Alabama. A turnaround in Massachusetts began in 1972 when 15 birds were trapped in upstate New York and transplanted to Massachusetts. Now there are some 15 thousand inhabiting the state and New England hunters pursue the wily creatures in hopes of making one the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast.
This week's fishing activity can be pretty much summed up with two words: windy and cold. How windy, you ask? Well, the ferry run from Cape Cod to Nantucket got cancelled a couple of times as wind gusts to 50mph made things too hazardous for travel. Besides, few folks feel like fishing when bare skin freezes to metal objects such as reels and beards raise a fine crop of ice crystals thanks to the Arctic breezes filtering down from the Canadian plains.
Still, a few adventurous types braver than I did manage to take a crack at the freshwater ponds over Sandwich way and were rewarded with trout, yellow perch and smallmouth bass. Peters Pond delivered up the trout, rainbows mostly, and Pimlico Pond, a small, seldom fished body of water, produced a brace of plump smallmouths for one enterprising Falmouth angler.
This weekend continues the pattern with temperatures trending from chilly to downright cold but the fish will continue to bite for those folks who persevere. One advantage to fishing the estuaries and creeks on the Cape is the prospect of hooking up with a random striper hanging around looking for something to dine on. Plastic and jig combos are ideal baits to coax bites from both fresh and saltwater species. Big time freshwater opportunities exist at some of the larger ponds such as in Brewster where Sheeps, Long and Cliff ponds offer a shot at salmon that have been stocked there over the years. The environmental folks didn't stock any salmon this year but plenty of these big fish remain, growing fatter and feistier on a robust diet of minnows and insects.
For those who simply must get their saltwater fix, the best bet for that might be at the east end of the Canal where occasional schools of mackerel have been showing up out behind Joe's Fish Market and around the mouth of the harbor itself. Their presence has been real iffy but for those lucky enough to be on hand when they cruise by, the action is hot while it lasts and these little critters make for a tasty dish, especially when they're stuffed with some of that leftover Thanksgiving stuffing and baked. For those not fond of mackerel on the dinner table, they can be frozen and stored in anticipation of striper season, 2014.
I would be remiss if I didn't say a few words about my New England Patriots and their game-of-the-decade against the Denver Broncos. Down 24-0 at the half but never a notion of quitting, the Pats roared back to win it 34-31 on a muffed punt by the Broncos. Yessir, this could be another Super Bowl year and it just might be the greatest coaching effort of Bill Belichick's career. So all I can say is: Go Pats!
November 23, 2013
Wannabe Robinhood Meets the Sheriff of Bellingham
by Jerry Vovcsko
When I moved my family from Massachusetts to Washington State back in 1990 we settled in the college town of Bellingham located a few miles south of the British Columbia border. Located in bucolic surroundings with the North Cascades National Park wilderness to the east and Puget Sound to the west, Bellingham sat like a crown jewel in the northwest corner of the country. A great place to raise the kids away from the drug-infested streets of big cities.
And for the most part, that's the way it turned out…although it did seem that the northwest put some kind of weird backspin on the shadowy folks who inhabited the back-alleys and seamier side of town. Which is why it was no great shock when I noticed an AP item on the Internet regarding 36 year old David Wayne Jordan.
It seems one of Jordan's friends had taken up residence recently in the Whatcom county jail and found his surroundings somewhat depressing. In an effort to cheer up his brooding friend, this wannabe Robinhood wrapped a package of marijuana around the shaft of an arrow and fired it at the second-floor recreation area of the jail. Unamused by Jordan's innovative delivery system, police charged him with distributing the weed to inmates, but Jordan claimed he was hunting squirrels.
County sheriff Bill Elfo appeared somewhat skeptical of that tale noting that Jordan had no explanation as to why squirrel hunting requires attaching marijuana to an arrow, nevertheless Mister Jordan now also resides in the Whatcom County jail – his cell is located on the first floor where squirrels are unlikely to frolic.
With water temperatures in Nantucket Sound hovering in the mid-40s and air temperature plunging into the 20s this weekend, there's not much action on the saltwater scene. There may be a few stripers being caught in the estuaries, creeks and rivers along the Cape's shorelines, but they'll mostly be schoolie-size and hard to find. But it's a different story in the sweetwater where the Cape's lakes and ponds offer a plethora of opportunities for enterprising anglers.
Rainbow trout, salmon, even an occasional brown trout are the targets these days and that's not even to mention bass, both large and smallmouth versions, which are hungry and aggressive and willing to take bait or artificials. Such ponds as Sheep and Flax in Brewster, Peters, Triangle and Lawrence in Sandwich and Mashpee-Wakeby in Mashpee are among those that received visits from the Massachusetts Environmental trucks that have been stocking Cape waters with a new supply of trout. These fish haven't had time to become wily and elusive yet so anglers looking to stock their freezers will want to sink a PowerBait or jig & plastic combo in these ponds real soon now.
Those folks willing to make a short jaunt off-Cape might try their luck at Long Pond up in Plymouth. Some nice rainbows have been taken there and over the years broodstock salmon have been plunked into this 200 acre southeastern Massachusetts pond . With maximum depths of 100 feet there's plenty of good fish habitat and brook, brown and rainbow trout proliferate. Pickerel and perch can usually be found near the weedbeds and other structure. A few years back a double-digit salmon was taken right next to the boat launch by an angler casting an Al's Goldfish in the shallows while waiting his turn to launch.
Sunday night the Patriots take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Foxboro. The weather folk say by game time we could be looking at 20mph winds, a combination of rain and snow squalls and temperatures dipping into the 20s. Might be a good idea to include numbers-of-frostbite-cases in the statistics column.
And, as an added attraction, Wes Welker returns to the place where he once teamed up with Tom Brady to set eye-popping pass completion records. Fans respect the work he did for the Pats over the years but there will be some boos when his name is announced; his departure wasn't entirely on amicable terms but true football fans have to admire his skills and toughness. In this kind of weather, who can hang onto the ball might determine the winner. Could be a very physical game and the Pats generally handle those kinds pretty well.
Falmouth physician Art Crago with a scup taken on a fly
November 16, 2013
Around the Cape, Around the World
by Jerry Vovcsko
Fishing may be somewhat dormant in Cape waters these days but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of wildlife action elsewhere in the world. British fisherman Bernie Campbell has been trying to catch a monster fish for the past seven years and last week he managed to haul the 206 pound, 8-foot albino wels catfish from the River Ebro near Barcelona, Spain. His catch tops the previous world record by ten pounds.
And one of the most secretive creatures on Earth — the saola — has been photographed in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years. Scientists first discovered the saola in 1992 in Vietnam near the country's border with Laos. It was the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years. But since its discovery, the elusive creature has rarely been seen in the wild, earning it the nickname the "Asian unicorn" (even though it has two long horns instead of one).
A lone saola was documented this past September by a camera trap set up in the Central Annamite Mountains by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Vietnamese wildlife officials. Though the beast is more closely related to wild cattle, it resembles an antelope with two sharp horns that can reach up to 4 feet in length. Scientists suspect that no more than a few hundred or a few dozen saola exist in the wild, but they have not been able to come up with a precise population estimate. The species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Closer to home, coyotes foraging in a Provincetown parking area managed to create a nuisance that could end up with the parking area shut down. After nine coyotes were spotted begging at cars one night last month, Cape Cod National Seashore officials threatened to close the northern parking lot at Herring Cove Beach for two weeks to stop people from illegally feeding them. Rangers found bags of dog food along Province Lands Road and piles of fish guts and fish heads in the parking lot which points to deliberate attempts to feed coyotes, according to Seashore chief ranger Leslie Reynolds.
"If we don't see a marked improvement, the superintendent is intending to close Herring Cove north for two weeks," Reynolds said. "We would only do that if the feeding continues."
The parking lot, with 208 spaces, is popular for residents and visitors throughout the year because of its drive-up views of the ocean and the sunset. The beach itself is popular for evening bonfires. The coyotes have been coming over the dunes and lingering on the tarmac next to cars, on the beach and in the shadows around the beach fires. Coyotes will eat whatever is readily available including rodents, rabbits, deer, birds, insects, reptiles, fruits and berries, but also scavenge road kill, garbage, pet food and even cats and small dogs.
The coyotes may be active right now but the salt water fishing has slowed to a crawl lately. Bluefish are virtually non-existent now except for the occasional lingerer in the Canal and Buzzards Bay. The Canal also harbors a mackerel, Pollock and a few striped bass stragglers. Schoolie stripers can still be found along the south-facing beaches of Nantucket Sound. The estuaries strung out between Woods Hole and Bass River will continue to hold school sized bass including some that will ultimately stick around over the winter and – the good Lord willing and the creeks don't rise – eventually establish a local spawning population (some say that has already happened).
Stripers are still being caught along the Elizabeth Islands with the bulk of the action taking place on the eastern side of the islands between Tarpaulin Cove and Cuttyhunk Island. South of Martha's Vineyard, around Nomans Island has seen some lively striper action although that's tricky this time of year as high winds kick up steep seas making it dangerous for small boats to get too far out into open waters.
November is typically a transitional time for Cape Cod anglers. The salt water action wraps up for another year and local anglers turn their attention to the freshwater scene. Fortunately, the presence of lakes and ponds from one end of the Cape to the other makes the switch relatively easy to endure. Stripers and blues leave the area but trout, salmon, bass (both large & smallmouth), pickerel and pike make pretty darned good replacements and the stocking efforts of the folks from the State Environmental Department provide ample replacements. Bring plenty of PowerBait, shiners, salmon eggs and artificial lures to the freshwater-dance that kicks in big-time now that the stripers have departed.
The Patriots come off their bye week and head south for a Monday night game with the Carolina Panthers. The walking wounded got a chance to heal, Bill Belichick and his coaches had a little extra time to come up with a game plan for Cam Newton and Co., and it's home-stretch-time now as teams gear up for the Super Bowl run. Won't be too long before the tip-ups and other ice fishing gear come out of storage and we start monitoring ice-thickness on the ponds as Mother Nature gives the seasonal clock another half-turn.
Oh, and it's none too early to keep an eye out for a fat guy in a fur-lined red suit carrying a sack of goodies slung over his shoulder; he'll be checking out who's been naughty and who's been nice, and somehow he'll know about that new Van Staal reel you were hoping to see under the Christmas tree. You may want to leave some cookies out…just in case.
November 07, 2013
So Long, 2013 Season;Hello, 2014
by Jerry Vovcsko
So here we are again, another striper season slowly drawing toward a close as water temperatures get ready to slide below the "magic 50 degree mark". We're not quite there yet, but it won't be long and the more organized anglers among us have already planning their shift from the saltwater scene over to the sweetwater for late fall adventures with the trout, pickerel and bass in our local ponds. The state environmental folks have dispatched their trucks far and wide around the state to stock ponds and lakes with lots of hatchery trout and a fair number of brood stock salmon. The weather has been surprisingly benevolent the past few weeks and forecasts look pretty good over the next ten days or so although we've had a warning taste of northerly winds recently.
October 31, 2013
Greed is Good
by Jerry Vovcsko
From worst to first! That's the story of the 2013 Boston Red Sox. The Brotherhood of the Beard lads who sneaked up on the rest of the league after a truly hideous 2012 season won all the marbles last night before a frenzied crowd at Fenway Park. John Lackey, he of the chicken and beer debacle in 2011, found redemption by pitching 6 strong innings on the way to defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 to claim the World Series title.
October 22, 2013
Trick or Treat Time in New England
by Jerry Vovcsko
With Halloween rapidly approaching it won't be long before the trick-or-treat crowd comes a-knocking at our doors hoping for goodies to fill their treat bags. And on the "trick" side of things it appears that a few local pranksters may have gotten an early jump on the spooky season as the Massachusetts Environmental Police and Stoughton police have launched an investigation after the carcass of a four foot decapitated shark was found dumped in the woods, officials said.
The body of the blue shark was found just before 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 on Shuman Avenue.
"We got a call for a smell in the woods," Stoughton Deputy Police Chief Rob Devine said.
After finding the headless shark, local police handed the case over to the environmental police, Chief Devine said.
Blue sharks, which are allowed to be harvested, are abundant in New England waters and to be legally harvested, must be a minimum of 54 inches long and can only be caught one at a time. Environmental police do not find the shark-dumping amusing and warn that whomever it was that dumped the carcass could be prosecuted for violations of fishery law, illegal dumping, or animal cruelty.
As the 2013 striper season winds down in Cape waters local anglers continue to do well in the Canal although lately mostly school-sized bass have been taken along the banks of the Ditch. A few thirty pound fish have been caught on the night tides and hopes are high that more large fish will be arriving from northern waters as Maine and New Hampshire populations work their way south.
Some large schools of bunker have been showing up around the Elizabeth Islands and up into Buzzards Bay. Back in the day Cape anglers could count on huge numbers of baitfish being driven into Woods Hole Harbor and stacking up against the shoreline as jumbo blues and big bass slashed through the bunker schools while taking on calories for the impending fall migration. These days fewer bunker have passed through but it looks like the numbers may be on the rise.
Tautog and black sea bass have been plentiful in and around Buzzards Bay with a number of small skiffs clustering around Cleveland Light and along the Bay shoreline from Megansett to Quisset Harbor. Mixed in with these bottom dwellers are occasional schools of stripers in the twenty to twenty six inch size range. Four and five pound blues round out the mix and provide lots of action for fly rodders as well as light gear aficionados.
Funny fish continue to make an appearance in Vineyard Sound and the stretch of water from Lackey's Bay on Nonamesset Island easterly as far as Menahaunt Beach has rewarded anglers lucky enough to be in the right place as a school came through. Bright metal slabs are the best bet for these roving bands of tiny tunoids; it's a good idea to keep a rod on hand rigged with a 3/4oz Kastmaster and ready to go. When the albies show up there's no time to re-tie lures.
One of the best places to pursue striped bass has to be along the western coastline of Martha's Vineyard across from the Elizabeths. Devil's Bridge continues to produce keeper size bass with the occasional twenty and thirty pound fish taken especially during the night hours. On the islands, Quicks Hole and Sox and Pigs may be the best bets for hooking up with a "cow" bass.
Over in Cape Cod Bay small stripers can be found close to shore from Barnstable Harbor and Sandy Neck Beach past Scorton Creek and Old Sandwich Harbor. Jig and plastic combinations are effective and topwater action with needles and darters can be had around first light. Folks have been taking kayaks up inside places like Scorton Creek and Barnstable Harbor with good results recently. The salt marshes teem with baitfish and other munchies and striper will prowl way up into surprisingly skinny water looking for tasty treats. And don't forget to try the edges of the Brewster Flats when the tide is falling…striped bass line up along the edge of the flats like Discount Tuesday at the local Country Buffet.
Cape ponds have been stocked now and there's excellent trout fishing from Sandwich to Brewster and over toward Harwich and Chatham. Peters Pond on the Falmouth/Sandwich line is a trout bonanza right now and such places as Sheep and Long Pond in Brewster may just deliver a double-digit broodstock salmon to some lucky angler as the environmental trucks carry out their stocking chores with a few bonus salmon thrown in to make an angler's day.
And speaking of Trick or Treat, it was that kind of week for New England sports teams. The Patriots got whacked around pretty good by the New York Jets and it looks like the Jets may be a team to be reckoned with down the line…that's a stout front four the New Yorkers line up on defense and they mounted a formidable pass rush without having to blitz much, a recipe for a rough day for Tom Brady.
On the other hand, the Red Sox made it to the World Series via good pitching – both starters and bullpen – along with some of the timeliest hitting imaginable. Take, for example, Shane Victorino who took a 2 for 22 batting record into the sixth game and then blasted a grand slam homer to send the Tigers home to Detroit wondering what had happened.
Well, there's plenty of sports to be played here in the New England fall and there's still plenty of good fishing to be had before we wrap it up and think about breaking out the ice gear. So no complaints from this quarter – we are darned lucky to live where we do. Tight lines, folks…and frozen ropes by Red Sox hitters to go along with tight spirals on Sunday afternoons in Foxborough.
October 14, 2013
Hey, Look! Is That the Fat Lady I See?
by Jerry Vovcsko
New England anglers have always been known to pay close attention to the heavens. The presence of a full moon can often be the harbinger of a great night out on the water when striped bass go on the bite. And the moon's powerful tug on local tides can determine whether said angler slips a thirty pound bass into the fish cooler or goes home fishless.
Well, even though there wasn't any full moon this past Sunday, the stars must have been perfectly aligned in the skies over New England because before that magical day was over local sports fans saw lightning strike not once, but twice, as both the Patriots and the Red Sox conjured up last minute wins just when it seemed defeat was all but entered in the record books.
First the Patriots taught their fans that the game was never over so long as there was time left on the clock. With the stands in Foxborough half-emptied as Pats fans resigned to a loss to the undefeated New Orleans Saints tried to get a jump on traffic, Tom Brady proceeded to take the Pats on another legendary, last- minute seventy yard sojourn and with five seconds left and no timeouts available dropped a perfect seventeen yard touchdown pass into the hands of his undrafted rookie receiver Kenbrell Tompkins for an astonishing win.
But the sports Gods weren't quite finished giving the fans a weekend for the ages. As the stadium clock ticked off the last five seconds of the Patriots incredible victory, Red Sox pitcher Clay Bucholtz took the mound in Fenway Park and fired a fastball to the Detroit Tigers leadoff hitter Austin Jackson. By the sixth inning the Tigers had rung up five runs and the Red Sox were flailing helplessly against Max Scherzer who struck out twelve Boston hitters to go with the seventeen Ks Tiger pitching had dropped on Sox hitters the night before.
But Scherzer ran out of steam and by scraping and clawing Boston managed to load the bases in the 8th inning with David "Big Papi" Ortiz coming up to bat. He promptly launched Joaquin Benoit's first pitch fastball into the bullpen in right for a game-tying grand slam homer and it was foregone that the Sox were destined to follow the Patriots into the New England book of come-from-behind sports glory. Which they did with a game-winning walk-off base hit in the ninth.
It was a day like no other in the history of New England sports. At one point both the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Tigers were gleefully welcoming the Fat Lady as she promenaded around the stadiums, but when she finally began to sing, for them the tune turned out to be "Taps" and they could only watch sadly as Tom Brady and Big Papi turned out the lights because, indeed, the party was over. What a day, sports fans…what a day!
October 08, 2013
Government Shuts Down But the Fish Don't Care
by Jerry Vovcsko
All but a handful of the hundred-plus workers employed at the huge Cape Cod National Seashore along the eastern shore of Cape Cod have been sent home for an unplanned, unpaid October vacation compliments of the government shutdown. The dozen folks still left are in the enforcement department which tells us something about priorities I guess. Anyhow, things are pretty quiet down along the beaches, dunes and scrub pines these days.
The good news is the striped bass didn't get the emails shutting things down so they're still packing on the calories getting ready for their long trip to home waters in the Hudson River or Chesapeake Bay and that makes for top notch fishing here in New England waters until they actually depart. Put that together with the mild and sunny weather we've been featuring the past couple of weeks and fall is turning out to be exceptionally pleasant as we set about wrapping up the 2013 salt water season in Cape waters.
In fact, right about now those outside beaches between Provincetown and Chatham are the scene of a watery four-lane expressway for southbound stripers and blues coming down from Maine and New Hampshire and local anglers are hitting the surf with plugs jig and plastic combos, chunk baits and live eels in pursuit of the heavyweight bass passing through. In the past two weeks or so a number of thirty pound stripers (and two 40 pound beauties) succumbed to temptation during the night tides and there will be more to follow before the season concludes.
In Nantucket Sound very few keeper sized bass have been taken recently and the majority of the fish caught around the Martha's Vineyard coastline or over on the Middleground have been schoolie size. The Sound has had decent false albacore and bonito action, especially over the past week or so, but folks hoping to score on bass have been doing business down along the Elizabeth Islands especially in the Quicks Hole area with live eels the bait of choice and tube and worm rigs taking second place.
Bass continue to show up in the Canal on a hit-or-miss basis and Buzzards Bay continues to be a striper dead zone with the exception of the western shoreline of the Elizabeths. An early morning jaunt along the islands can bring good results but the key is to be in place before first light as there is usually a half-hour interval where the "bite turns on". Folks tend to employ their tackle box favorites but I've found good, consistent results over the years with five and a quarter inch swimming plugs – Yozuris and Rebels for the most part.
All around Woods Hole and the islands the mini-tunoids have been swarming and chasing baitfish which provides great action for anglers rigged up with light gear. Everyone should experience the reel-burning run of a five pound albie or bonito at least once in their lifetime. A few old timers have been snagging pogies in the harbor and livelining them along the massive rock ledges in the channel…but that's a method best left for those who know Woods Hole on a rock by rock basis. When things go wrong in The Hole, they go wrong fast and six knots of current pouring through there can really spoil an angler's day.
Best place to wet a line right now may well be in the rips out behind Nantucket Island…Siasconset Rip, Old Man's Rip…these are chock full of bass and blues with some of those blues going ten pounds or better. It's quite a sight to see a standing wave with fish, big fish, swimming around inside the wave chasing bait. Throw just about anything in there and something will grab it. Pay attention, though, as "big water" can be extremely unforgiving where small craft is concerned.
It's probably time to give some thought to fresh water activity as the trucks are out now stocking Cape ponds with trout and the occasional salmon. Bass, both large and smallmouth, are available in most of the local ponds and pickerel are always hungry it seems.
We tend to get so engrossed with what's happening in the salt water scene that we forget the Cape has some of the finest freshwater resources available this side of the Quabbin Reservoir. Just as a change of pace it's worth a trip to Peters Pond in Sandwich or Sheeps Pond down Brewster way. And when the stripers have left us and the blues are long departed for warmer waters, the trout, salmon, perch and pickerel will still be here waiting to give anglers a tussle.
My New England Patriots are no longer undefeated as they got beat up pretty well out in Cincinnati by a tough Bengal team. But they will rise again and Brady & Co. should improve their performance when Gronkowski, Vereen, Slater, et al, return to the wars, injuries-healed. The Rays shocked the Red Sox in Tampa last night with a walk-off victory but the Sox have a deep and talented pitching staff and they should be okay in their World Series quest. Black powder season is not that far off and deer look to be plentiful this year; life is good here in New England.
September 30, 2013
New England Fall Extravaganza
by Jerry Vovsko
Although fall fishing on the Cape is always a treat, it's not limited to Cape-waters only. Right about now, as we segue into October, the action lights up in and around the Plymouth area. Lots of schoolie bass in the harbor these days and some bigger ones showing up down along the Manomet shoreline and around the cliffs of White Horse Beach. This is definitely tube and worm territory and there have been a few stripers in the thirty-pound-and-up category taken recently. Local anglers familiar with the location of hull-eating rocks down that way have been doing very well for themselves working live eels among said rocks during the night hours. Swimming plugs at first light have also been productive for early risers. Another good thing about launching from Plymouth is the availability of parking for car and trailer combos in the big lot by the boat ramp and where else can an angler catch a glimpse of The Mayflower as he puts out to sea?
Striper action in Cape Cod Bay was sporadic last week but a couple of spots remained productive, including the stretch of shoreline at Sandy Neck Beach on over to the mouth of Barnstable Harbor. The many coves and inlets in the harbor itself proved productive albeit with smaller, schoolie-sized bass and three to five pound blues mixed in. Anglers working from skiffs and kayaks did well for themselves up inside the skinny harbor waters. Corporation Beach in Dennis continues to offer good bottom fishing with black sea bass and ‘tog willing to dine on seaworms and green crabs as well as mackerel chunks and sea clam baits. Nothing tastier than black sea bass although they are buggers to clean properly thanks to the bony ridge that makes them tricky to fillet.
There were a couple of good semi-blitzes in the Canal over the weekend with stripers showing up in the morning behind the skating rink and later in the day near Pip's Rip. These fish were challenging to get at as they remained out where only the long-cast lads had any shot at them. Sometimes it seems as though these fish decide to amuse themselves by showing at the surface just out of casting reach. It can be frustrating but patience and tenacity will often win the day for anglers willing to put in the time.
Nantucket Sound has slowed to a crawl for striper action but the funny fish have arrived in force now and albies and bonnies keep things hopping from Woods Hole to Waquoit Harbor. There was lots of blitz activity with albies Saturday a little ways out from the Waquoit jetty and a few lucky anglers managed to hook up with the little turbo-charged tunoids. It's worth keeping a rod rigged with a metal slab lure in case a bait-chasing school shows up and it's imperative that false albacore or bonito be bled and iced as quickly as possible…it's the difference between a truly delicious grilled fish and a skinful of mush.
The back beaches are being visited by schools of striped bass cruising by as they migrate back from whence they came. Live eels from dusk on into the hours of darkness are the best bet and topwater offerings around dawn will generally produce good results. If things are slow try adding a teaser about 18 to 24 inches above lure or bait. I keep a supply of Eddystone eels in my tackle box for just such an occasion.
Most effective color seems to be pink although that varies. It can be a startling experience for an angler to land a thirty pound bass on a three inch piece of rubber while a big swimming plug goes untouched. A big streamer fly such as a Clouser can also make an effective teaser; dunno what a fish makes of this rig but it's surprising how often this combination will work when nothing else seems to work.
This would be the time of year when a trip to Wasque Rip would definitely be in order, except that Wasque got wiped out by winter storms and that familiar standing wave no longer forms where it once appeared when the ebbing tide began to run strong. Still, jumbo bluefish continue to patrol the general area and a trip out there can be rewarding when these big blues decide to show up. On the days they don't, a quick westerly trip toward Quicks Hole and Cuttyhunk can be a good alternative. Stripers will remain along the Elizabeth Islands until the last of migrating fish have departed our waters. Before turning the corner at the southwest tip of Martha's Vineyard it's often worth trying a few casts round Nomans Island…big stripers have been taken there but, as the sous chef in "Apocalypse Now" put it, "Never get out of the goddamn boat!" He only had a tiger to contend with; Nomans is littered with live ordnance from when the Navy used it for practice bombing runs back in the day.
Contrary to the doom & gloom predictions of some sportswriters the Patriots put it to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night and the defense especially had themselves a yeoman-like performance. Vince Wilfork went down, probably for the season,
with a torn Achilles tendon and there was a scattering of unfamiliar names such as Mulligan, Jones and Vellone stepping up to replace the fallen…but the Pats stomped the terra and came away with their fourth win against no losses. Pretty soon Amendola and Gronkowski will be returning to the wars and those rookie wide receivers are looking better and better game by game. Oh, and the Red Sox have locked up home field advantage for the playoffs with their 97-win season…from last in 2012 to first in 2013, who'd a thunk it? For sports fans the foliage will be looking spectacular indeed in New England this year.
September 20, 2013
Getting Ready For the Fall Bonanza
by Jerry Vovcsko
Nantucket Sound water temperatures in the mid-60s means there's still plenty of time for anglers to get in their licks before the striped bass depart Cape waters for the return trip south. But even if the official start of the migration remains a month or more in the future, bass will continue to put on the calorie-stoking feed-bag over the next few weeks so now's a very good time to get after them.
And that's not even considering that we still haven't seen much of a false albacore fishery in local waters just yet. It's not clear just why the albies haven't arrived in the usual numbers by now but consensus opinion is consistent across the board: As one local angler puts it: "Wherever they are, they ain't here."
The albies may be scarce right now but Bonito have been showing up around the islands, especially in and around the Woods Hole area. Schools of albies and blues cruise around Lackey's Bay and occasionally show up just off Nobska Point. Folks who target these funny-fish keep a spare rod rigged with a metal slab such as KastMaster, Deadly Dick or Hopkins lure as the mini-tunoids find the glitter and flash of the metals alluring enough to draw strikes.
Other effective lures include holographic swimming plugs like some of the Yozuris, particularly the Crystal Minnow, along with jigs that feature shiny mylar in the bucktails.
The Canal has had its good times and not-so-good moments recently and at one point there were schools of thirty-and-over stripers feeding on mackerel in the Ditch and anglers lined up around the Scusset fish pier were working out on these lunker-sized bass. But all good things come to an end it seems and lately it's been a matter of catching the occasional solo fish or more likely getting skunked. But before long the migration will turn the Cape Cod Canal into a four-lane-highway for south-bound bass and the banks will be lined with anglers looking to score a fish or two as the stripers depart.
Along the back beaches from Chatham to Truro the late afternoon to evening hours have been productive for keeper size bass. When darkness falls break out the live eels because they draw some of the most vicious hits an angler may experience all season. The waters around Monomoy continue to deliver striped bass action and the lower parts of Pleasant Bay have been productive during the day. That newly-formed cut of Monomoy Island created by last winter's storms has delivered its share of large bass and once the migration gets under way the locals will likely concentrate their striper efforts their as it makes an attractive short-cut for bass heading into Nantucket Sound. Drifting or casting herring chunks is the name of the game there and turn-of-the-tide often brings good results.
There have been some big stripers caught this past week at Billingsgate on tube and worm rigs and that will continue to be the case well into migration time. Folks working the wreck of the old target ship, the James Longstreet, have been doing very well for themselves with black sea bass, fluke and tautog. It's easy enough to find the wreck site; just pick a nice day and look for a cluster of skiffs anchored up in the middle of Cape Cod Bay...odds are, that's it.
The stretch of shoreline from Barnstable Harbor past Sandy Neck Beach and westward toward Sandwich has seen some striper activity over the past week. Popper and needless in the early morning and swimming plugs or jig and plastic combos from dusk into dark has been the way to go. Black sea bass rewarded some bottom fishers near the mouth of Barnstable Harbor and Corporation Beach off the Dennis shore offers keeper size 'tog to anglers equipped with a good supply of green crabs.
Bluefish and stripers continue to show up around Race Point and down toward Herring Cove with blues the predominant presence although the striper bite at first light has been pretty consistent and rewarding for early arriving anglers. There's still some bluefin action off to the east of the Cape and out in the canyons the yellowfin can make or break a trip depending on an angler's luck on any given day.
The rips around Nantucket hold the mix of large blues and bass that make fall fishing an exciting proposition...sometimes a little too exciting when the weather ratchets up the ante out there in the open ocean, small boats take notice. We've been very lucky so far with the weather in terms of storms and hurricane season. But there's still time for a bit of excitement to blow in from Africa and points east. It's Big Water out there and pays a skipper to keep a sharp eye out; we like to see all the boats that went out make it back.
The Red Sox clinched a playoff spot with their win last night and can clinch the division with another tonight. They feature a genuinely talented pitching staff these days and it's rounding into shape with everyone about as healthy as they've been all season. This could be another World Series year for Jonny Gomes and the rest of the bearded lads and that would make it one helluva October in New England, wouldn't it?
September 13, 2013
Fall in New England; Sharks, Stripers and Lobsters On the Menu
by Jerry Vovcsko
A six-clawed lobster has been donated to the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor; named Lola, the strange lobster was caught by a fishing crew off the coast of Hyannis, Mass. Aquarium officials pointed out that on one side where a single claw would be Lola has five lobster claws arranged in a starfish pattern and on the other side a normal claw.
They told reporters that the claw deformity is a genetic mutation that lobsters can have throughout their life or it could be regrowth from a damaged or lost claw. Lola is scheduled to go on exhibit in the next several days.
A charter boat was about eight miles off Provincetown's Race Point, in 300 feet of water, when something took hold of the angler's bait. The crew reeled the mystery fish close to the boat. But then it took off with the line. A couple of jumps later those aboard realized it was a big mako shark, said skipper Don Campbell. The shark was more than 9 feet long and weighed about 550 pounds and the struggle to get it onto the boat lasted an hour and a half. After returning to the harbor, Campbell and crew cut up the shark, saving some for themselves and giving the rest away to people walking along the harbor.
Water temperatures continue to hold in the low seventies and some local anglers wonder if this years migration will start later as a result. The waters of Buzzards Bay are have been too tepid for much in the way of striper fishing but anglers have had plenty of success catching bluefish - local estuaries are filled with snapper blues - and the occasional bonito. False albacore have begun to filter into Nantucket Sound with the area just off Nonamesset Island the best bet for some albie-action.
Bottom fishermen are doing well in the bay with plenty of tautog and sea bass available around Cleveland Ledge and the Weepeckett Islands. Spanish mackerel and the occasional weakfish (aka, sea trout) have been reported recently. Quisset Harbor and The Knob are thick with bluefish right now and a few locals have done well working live eels on the night tides around there. Drifting eels on a falling tide at the mouth of the harbor has been especially rewarding with at least one thirty pound bass taken there. Tube and worm technique has also produced some keepers in this location recently...the key is sloooow trolling, just enough speed to keep the rig off the bottom.
This time of year is generally good news in the Cape Cod Canal and this year is no different. There have been plenty of keepers caught there lately and some of these fish nudged bait shop scales toward the forty pound mark. The presence of mackerel in The Ditch is always good news and the action has been hot lately for plug casters as well as the jig and plastic lads. This time of the year it's worth a try with two-ounce jig heads and those whopping big twelve-inch SlugGos, especially at night. Live eel anglers will want to make sure they acquire the biggest snakes when making bait shop purchases...this is the time of year when bigger is definitely better. The east end of the Canal is probably the best choice of locations as the bass are moving around, chasing bait and usually ending up around the mouth of the canal before starting another run.
The mouth of Scorton Creek produced a couple of big stripers last week with one fish tipping the scales at forty pounds plus. It's not a bad idea for kayakers to work up inside the creek in the back channels of the salt marsh and then ride the ebbing tide out toward the creek mouth as bass and blues will lurk there waiting for itinerant baitfish to be swept their way. Let the current carry the yak out into the bay and cast topwater plugs quartering across the current for best results.
Sandy Neck beach was the site of hot bluefish activity early in the week and the mouth of Barnstable Harbor offered a chance for anglers to pick up keeper sized bass for the grill, especially after dusk. The water temperature differential makes Cape Cod Bay more hospitable to striped bass right now although the projections of early fall weather will begin to lower the temps in Nantucket Sound before long. Right now, though, there's plenty of mixed bass&blue activity in the rips on the back side of Nantucket Island for folks with enough boat to handle the open water.
Speaking of boats new regulations about fueling boats in town harbors went into effect earlier this week. Harbormaster Gregg Fraser said he drafted the regulations after a series of small fuel spills, some of which went unreported, and other violations of the refueling regulations during the summer. The new rules require fueling companies to provide more detail on refueling work to the harbormaster's office, including the name and registration number of the vessel being fueled, along with the amount of fuel and the time and place of the fueling. Fueling companies also must maintain a log of the information for later inspection by the harbormaster.
The new regs will also require written reports anytime fuel is spilled directly into the water; call for absorbent materials to mitigate the effects of a spill but prohibit the use of dispersants or chemicals sprayed on the water; limit fuel truck idling time at Simpson' Landing and Tide's Bulkhead and limit fueling on Float F in the main Marina on Scranton Avenue to slips F3 through F7.
Fueling is prohibited anywhere else on town property. The new regs went into effect last week and companies can lose their fueling privileges for violations of the new regs. Now if the state would just crack down on those single-hulled fuel barges being run aground as they're towed by tugs through Buzzard Bay we'd be in a lot better shape; you can still squeeze a handful of sand from the marshes in West Falmouth and see the rainbow shimmer of petroleum from the barge spill that happened back in 1969. Enough's enough, folks.
My New England Patriots are sitting at 2-0 after their win last night over the New York Jets. But the Pats are perhaps the sorriest looking owners of a 2-0 record in the history of the sport; there are many things in need of fixing and not a whole lot of time to carry out repairs. The wide outs resemble so many stick-figures culled from the Arena League and Tom Brady at times looks like he's watching his receivers run kaleidoscopic patterns never before seen on the field or in anyone's playbook. Bill Belichick looks to have his work cut out for him this season if a return date with the Super Bowl is to become a reality.
September 06, 2013
Watch Out For Bullwinkle
by Jerry Vovcsko
September typically brings the first hint of fall our way, maple leaves show the first coloring of fall foliage and the oaks and birches won't be far behind. Cape Cod anglers feel a surge of excitement knowing that the legendary fall migration lurks just around the corner, an event some see as the time when striper fishing is at a pinnacle in Cape waters.
Things heat up in the world of sports as well with high school, college and pro football getting under way and baseball season winding down toward the staging of the annual World Series (with the Red Sox looking mighty impressive these days after those terrible Bobby Valentine days).
Bow hunters and black powder hunters gear up for their seasons to open next month and right now wildlife experts are warning Massachusetts drivers watch for moose activity in the roadways as September marks the start of the animals' breeding season. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says male moose will often chase female moose across roads because of their urge to reproduce.
The wildlife folks say the males get "tunnel vision" and become unaware of traffic while pursuing females...guess it's not a whole lot different among the human species as far as that goes. Anyhow, motorists should keep an eye out driving around, especially in the western part of the state, because at 500 to 1,000 pounds, with long legs and top-heavy bodies, moose collisions will likely produce plenty of business for the body specialists at Maaco.
Speaking of motorists, Yarmouthport police are investigating how it is that a Jeep ended up in Dennis Pond last week. The raised hatchback of the red 2008 Jeep Wrangler was spotted by an early morning hiker near an old boat ramp at the beach on Summer Street Yarmouth, police Sgt. Gerry Britt said. The Jeep was in about 10 feet of water and after police and fire officials determined nobody was inside, it was pulled from the pond and the investigation is underway to determine how the Jeep ended up in the water. I'm guessing that the answer to that question is going to involve drugs, alcohol or kids out joyriding before another school year gets under way.
Meanwhile, there's good fishing to be had right now in Cape waters and Cape Cod Bay is one of the more productive destinations. Just off the mouth of Scorton Creek thirty-seven and forty-two pound stripers were weighed in last week and a fair number of keepers came into anglers' boats around the mouth of Barnstable Harbor. The stretch of shore along Sandy Neck was also striper-active with a few good sized blues mixed in as well. Topwater plugs in the early morning hours made for exciting moments for anglers who showed up before dawn and were on site at first light.
The Cape Cod Canal features plenty of action at the east end with live eels the bait de jure for many locals including a couple of old timers who work their magic with rigged eel, an art that has virtually disappeared but continues to be lethal on stripers in the hands of one of these piscatorial wizards.
On the Nantucket Sound side the estuaries and harbors are chock-full of snapper blues and school bass with the occasional keeper mixed in and pods of three to five pound blues can be found cruising the Sound especially in the western end around Woods Hole and the Elizabeth Islands.
he eastern shore of the islands continues to hold striped bass with many in the twenty-four to twenty-eight inch size range. Bigger bass can be found further down around Quicks Hole and Cuttyhunk Island. Recently some good scores on bass up to thirty pounds have been made in the rocky waters around Nomans Island - keep in mind that live ordinance remains on that island from the old days of military practice bombing runs, so don't decide to beach the boat and take a little stroll around the island itself.
With so much happening in the salt water it's easy to forget that freshwater fishing in southeastern Massachusetts is always available. Here's Scott Russo, a young gent from East Bridgewater, with a nice three and a half pound bass taken from one of the local ponds on a worm.
That style of fishing was great fun back when we were kids and it remains so to this day so every now and then it's worth getting out there and dunking bait in the sweet water just to keep our hand in.
The New England Patriots open their 2013/2014 Super Bowl quest this Sunday coming up and they promise to be an interesting team to watch as Bill Belichick has added a lot of youth and speed, something we haven't seen in the past. And the Red Sox took the opener of their four-game set against theYankees last night by squeezing out the tying run against the Yank's legendary closer Mariano Rivera and winning it in the tenth inning behind their own super-closer Koji Uehara. Life is good in New England sports these days and we've still got plenty of time before winter winds blow. Enjoy it.
August 30, 2013
One Cool Cat and Tebow Time in New England
by Jerry Vovcsko
A newly-purchased 30-foot boat briefly caught fire near the Nobska Point Lighthouse last weekend after crashing into a rock. The boat had left Falmouth Harbor in mid-afternoon when it struck the rock, dropping one of the twin motors into the water and sparking an electrical fire that was confined to the electrical compartment. Those swirling currents that churn the waters around Nobska make it prime striper territory but the massive ledges just beneath the surface routinely dine on boat hulls piloted by careless or inexperienced skippers. This owner inflicted about $150,000 damage on his craft by not paying attention to charts that all but screamed: STAY AWAY from the waters close in around Nobska.
East End Canal fishing has picked up lately and one local bait and tackle shop weighed in a hefty forty-two pound bass pulled from the Ditch. There's been lively action at varying times around Murderer's Row, the Mussel Bed and Pip's Rip. The Elizabeth Islands continue to produce bass with the bigger fish showing up down around Quicks and Robinsons holes as well as Sow and Pigs reef and around Cuttyhunk Island itself. Anglers who work plugs or eels amidst the rocks surrounding Penikese Island have a chance to nail double-digit tautog as well as big stripers.
Bonita swarm around the Vineyard and Nantucket nowadays. Great Point and the Bonita Bar on Nantucket have been productive and there were a few plus-thirty-lb stripers taken at Devil's Bridge on Martha's Vineyard by anglers trolling big swimming plugs or drifting live eels. The biggest striper was hauled in by one local who specializes in livelining scup around the reef.
Pods of four to five pound blues continue to cruise the Sound and occasionally pin bait against the beach in such places as Popponessett and South Cape beaches. Hedge fence Shoal has rewarded folks bottom fishing there and the Middleground lights up off and on with west running tides most productive for fluke and the occasional black sea bass.
Buzzards Bay and most of the south side estuaries are alive with snapper blues now making it especially rewarding to take kids out for a day on the water. Light gear and tiny lures will draw plenty of action for young folk to enjoy. And scup provide extra fun as they seem to be around in bigger numbers (and size) than most years. Bring plenty of seaworms and let the kids have a ball catching these ocean-going panfish.
Striper action seems to have died down on the outside beaches but anglers fishing the surf down round Chatham can amuse themselves by watching the ever increasing population of seals chasing and devouring stripers (including ones they may have hooked up with). With any luck at all that seal that swiped the big bass off the angler's line will enter the food chain via a hungry twelve foot great white…payback, as they say, is a bitch.
Cape Cod Bay is heavy with bluefish right now and some nice bass have been taken over at Billingsgate and further west off the Manomet Cliffs area by tube and worm anglers. There was a brief striper blitz off Scusset Beach mid-week but nothing much by way of size. The Brewster Flats are worth a look on a falling tide. Anglers tossing plugs in the evening hours have done very well for themselves and drifting live eels at the edge of the Flats just before dark might produce a keeper or two as well as a jumbo blue.
North Falmouth is a far cry from the real "North Country", but last week it turned up a sighting of a creature more at home in the Adirondacks or the Canadian wilderness than on Cape Cod. Chris LeBoeuf, who lives on Teneycke Hill Road, was returning home around midnight when he spotted a large feline in his yard, said Chuck Martinsen, deputy director of the Falmouth Department of Marine and Environmental Services.
LeBoeuf said he wasn't at first surprised to see an animal – which he described as about the size of a small- to medium-size dog – in his yard when he pulled into driveway. His property, located 12 miles from the Bourne Bridge, abuts conservation land, where wildlife thrives, he said. This animal disappeared into the woods when he drove in, but then it came back out, and stood on top of a rock wall about 8 to 10 feet from where LeBoeuf sat in his car.
It was too dark, so he turned on his headlights. The animal didn't move and he began to video it with his iPhone. When the cat turned to slink away, LeBoeuf saw the little tail, and thought he might be seeing some sort of exotic cat. Later, he sent his 32-second video to local experts who confirmed that it was indeed a bobcat.
Although the video is a little murky, when the animal turns to walk away, the picture shows a stubby tail, just a few inches long. This nubby appendage, white on the underside and with a black tip on the end, is what led wildlife officials to say definitively that the bobcat had somehow managed to cross the Cape Cod Canal.
Bobcats are classified as common in the central and western regions of Massachusetts, according to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. They are classified as "present" in the northeastern part of the state, and "rare to absent" in Southeastern Massachusetts, but the state may just have to revise that classification before long.
The 2013/2014 NFL season gets underway in less than a week and the Patriots are looking pretty good right now. But who would have thought that come opening day, Tim Tebow might still be on the New England roster? Tim Tebow and Bill Belichick certainly qualify as the NFL's version of the Odd Couple, but they are both hard-wired to winning and wouldn't it be a hoot to see the two of them standing side by side when they hand out the Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl? It could happen.
August 22, 2013
Okay, so maybe the striper fishing's slowed down a tad in Cape waters, but there are plenty of bluefish around and fluke, black sea bass and scup continue to provide plenty of action for anglers in places such as L'Hommedieu and Hedge Fence Shoals just off the southern coast of Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound.
August 12, 2013
It Only Gets Weirder
by Jerry Vovccsko
Check out the Associated Press story about a Connecticut angler who holds the current striper record at 81+ pound…too bad the story is rife with silly remarks by the reporter who obviously knew nothing about striped bass or fishing for that matter. Forty-four inch record for length? Stocking streams??C'mon.....
A few evenings back 29 year old Justin Sprague hopped on his bike and headed down for a ride along the Cape Cod Canal. He hadn't intended to do any fishing but seeing a bunch of fishermen hard at it along the Canal he decided to go home and grab his gear. When he got back he picked a spot known to Canal regulars as Murderer's Row. He'd been casting for about fifteen minutes with no luck and then spotted a tail breaking the surface. He thought it was a shark and flipped a cast in that direction and found himself hooked up, not with a shark, but with a real rarity around these parts: A white Marlin!
His first reaction when he figured out what he'd hooked into was "Holy S-word!"
After being hooked under its mouth, the fish began jumping out of the water "just like you see on TV," Sprague said. Two nearby fisherman came by to help and combining their efforts the men eventually pulled the fish up onto the rip rap. The fish was "a good 6 feet long" and weighed at least 60 pounds, Sprague said. The fishermen tried to revive the fish after catching it, but were unable to.
Anglers who land billfish — such as a white marlin — must report it within 24 hours and there's a minimum size restriction of 66 inches, according to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries division. Confusion over the legality of his catch was part of the reason why Sprague ended up giving it to the two men who helped him pull it ashore, he said.
"I was on my 10-speed. I didn't even have pliers," he said of how ill-equipped he was to deal with the fish, and said his catch wasn't so much the work of a skilled fisherman, but being at the right place at the right time.
"I never really have good luck fishing," he said.
Yeah, well, I wouldn't mind not-having-any luck like that myself.
In my last column I mentioned the shark turning up in the doorway of a Nantucket pub. Looks like a copycat "sharker" was on the loose in the New York subway last week. New York City's transit authority says a conductor found a small dead shark aboard a subway train in Queens on Wednesday. Apparently fearing that "Jaws" might be lurking nearby, the conductor asked passengers to leave the car and closed it off. The train continued to the end of the line, and there a supervisor placed the shark in a garbage bag and put it in the trash. Photos on a New York blog show the shark with a cigarette in its mouth and a can of Red Bull nearby.
Transit officials are aware of the photos but are making no effort to find the person who posted them, saying they have ‘‘better things to do.'
Yessir, never a dull moment in the Big Apple.
Locally, striper fishing has slowed a tad as water temperatures hover in the seventies and the low-hanging fruit has already been picked clean. Now it takes some savvy and experience to hook up with Morone saxatilis (In my mind they'll always be "Roccus") and that probably eliminates a large segment of visiting anglers. Nevertheless, there are bass around and they can be caught. A few important considerations when it comes to methods:
1) Some of these bass have traded in their usual haunts for deeper water. Swimming plugs that dig deep will bring results when the shallow running favorites go fishless.
2) Fish moving water! Rips are good lurking places and stripers will hang around waiting for the current to bring bat past them. Why exert themselves when the rip-buffet-line will bring food to them? Criss- cross working rips with casts be sure to get lures up into the place where the rip begins.
3) With warmer waters around it becomes even more important to get out there just before first light as it's the best time to tangle with stripers on the feed. Top water lures will do the trick although later in the day deep runners are far more effective. Besides early morning activity, next best is dusk into the night hours. Drifting chunk baits, live eels or herring in fishy-looking places is a good way to find where the bass are doing business.
4) Slow it down, folks. No point in making a good sized striper exert itself any more than need be to catch up with bait or lure. Make it easy for the fish to dine on your offering and there's a better chance of hooking up.
Bluefish are another matter altogether and they like the warm temperatures. Pods of blues continue to cruise Nantucket Sound and when you catch one you'll generally take more of that size as they tend to school up in roughly the same size class. Some false albacore are beginning to filter into the Sound and the Lackey's Bay mouth is one of the first locations where they show up. I've had pretty good luck tossing metal slabs – Kastmasters, Hopkins Lures, Deadly Dicks – until I locate a school and then working that spot. If they disappear, stay put, they'll circle around and return nearby…keep your head on a swivel until they show up once more and cast a little beyond the school and work back through it for best results.
One lucky gent landed a 900+ pound Bluefin east of Chatham…didn't think there were too many in that size class still left so it's good to hear there are still some around. The Japanese covet these fish for their rare-beefsteak-like flesh and it's tempting to target fish that can bring thousands at the dock from waiting fish buyers. But it also takes a long time to grow a Bluefin to that size and there may come a time where the huge "horse-mackerels" slide into the mists of extinction as some management people are concerned might happen.
We're not too far from the start of fall migration and fishing will definitely ramp up then before it's time to store the gear away. Hard to believe we're less than three weeks out from Labor Day weekend but there it is. I see Red Sox owner John Henry has bought the Boston Globe
and Amazon titan Jeff Bezos is acquiring the Washington Post. Wonder what it feels like to sit down and write a check for $70 million as John Henry will be doing? Me, I'm a little nervous writing a check for $7 if it's near the end of the month and my math is a little shaky when it comes to balancing the checkbook.
Okay, that's it for now. There's more fishing to do and time's running out. I'll have more in another week or so…tight lines.
August 06, 2013
Jumping the Nantucket Land Shark
by Jerry Vovcsko
Those wild and crazy guys over there on Nantucket! What'll they think of next? Seems last week a cleaning crew found an unexpected mess when they arrived at the Sea Dog Brew Pub on Nantucket: a 5-foot-long shark blocking the door. Pub manager Jimmy Agnew says he doesn't know why anyone would have dumped the sea creature there. But Agnew says the pub fielded calls and questions all day long after word got out about the land shark and everybody had their own theory about how it got there. Two people had been removed from the Sea Dog in separate incidents Wednesday night, Agnew said, but he didn't know if they had anything to do with dumping the shark.
One local wag speculated that the shark went to the Sea Dog ‘‘to meet his chums.'' Others thought it might have arrived early for happy-hour and one regular said he'd seen the shark at the pub during a previous Karaoke Night and had a friend who "may have dated it".
It gets a little wonky over there on the Big Island, especially when the drinks begin to flow and the band kicks out the jams. Guess it's probably time for Inspector Clouseau to solve the Great Sea Dog Pub Shark mystery, aka, what's a nice critter like you doing in a place like this?
Meanwhile, a bit westerly of Nantucket the fish have been biting with gusto. Some large blues were grabbing chunk baits around Chappaquiddick Island. Bass and blues mixed in the Menemsha Channel kept local anglers busy in the early morning hours. Things will heat up even more when late season funny fish – albies and bonnies – show up in numbers a couple of weeks from now.
Striped bass are not especially fond of the warmer water temperatures that have seeped into Nantucket Sound but bass can still be found, schoolies mostly along the south around Cuttyhunk in the Elizabeth Islands chain. Plenty of scup around the islands right now and fluke can be found on and off at such places as the Middleground and Lucas Shoal in Nantucket Sound.
At Provincetown the word is "sand eels' and there are swarms of these little bait eels all the way from Race Point to below Truro. Every now and then stripers and blues shift into a feeding frenzy and if an angler happens to be in the vicinity when the blitz kicks off, sore arms will be the result as the fish hit just about anything tossed their way.
There are plenty of bass down Chatham way and the action around Monomoy has been red hot at times. The cut formed by last winter's storms is a popular spot but steer clear of the seal populations that have proved so attractive to great white sharks recently.
Speaking of great whites, there have been several beach closings over the past couple of weeks when sharks were spotted cruising nearby lining up their dinner. Town regulations call for swimmers to stay at least 100 yards away from the seals (and great whites). I don't know about other folks but I prefer to locate as far away as possible when these eating machines are in the vicinity – Wisconsin is none too far away for me to feel secure, but they'll close a beach at 9AM because of a great white sighting and open it an hour later when they figure the shark is gone. But sharks are pelagic creatures capable of putting a thousand miles on the odometer in a hurry, so I'd like a little more than a hundred yards as a safety zone if you don't mind.
Stripers showed up between Town Neck Beach and Scorton Creek last week and a few folks scored heavily working the edge of the Brewster Flats with tube and worm rigs. Billingsgate Shoal produced some nice bass for folks wirelining jigs along with the tube and worm method and plug casters did well for themselves around the mouth of the Pamet River – the Pamet's a weedy place so expect to pick plenty of salad in some spots.
The Cape Cod Canal has been improving the past few days and several bass in the forty-inch were measured at local bait shops. Overall, things will remain somewhat slow for another week two until the albies and bonnies show up in Nantucket Sound, but there's plenty of action on tap as we ease into late summer, early fall, Seems we were just waiting anxiously for the 2013 season to arrive and now here we are contemplating the fall migration one more time. Whatever happened to those endless slow-moving summer we knew as kids?
The Red Sox are still in first place in the Division race. Bud Selig's fixing to put it to A-rod in the form of a suspension through the 2014 season, and Jose Iglesias and his magic glove got traded to the Tigers allowing the Sox to pick up starting pitcher Jake Peavy. Don't blink because you'll miss the World Series and when you open your eyes it'll be the New England Patriots taking the field. Wither goest, Louie Tiant?
July 31, 2013
Rocks With Guts and Other Fish Tales
by Jerry Vovcsko
We've got our share of strange looking marine creatures in Cape waters but I think we've got to take a back seat to the folks along the coasts of Chile and Peru when it comes to any weird-creatures contest. Take, for instance, a sea creature from those parts that can best be described as resembling a rock-with-guts. The thing lies there sucking in water and filtering out microorganisms while it's clear blood somehow secretes a rare mineral, vanadium!
Think that's not strange enough? Okay, there's this: although Pyura chilensis is born male, it turns hermaphroditic at puberty and reproduces by releasing clouds of sperm and eggs into the water around it and hoping they hook up somewhere along the line. Folks who eat the "shellfish rock" raw or in stews describe the taste as soapy, bitter and with a kind of weird iodine flavor, not the sort of thing likely to end up as the next, great, fast-food item to tempt the American palate.
Scientists call its asexual method of reproduction "selfing", a method which, when successful, which produces tadpole-like offspring that eventually settle onto a rock and grow into the ultra bizarre "rock with guts" adult form. The magazine Scientific American has more information about this odd creature. Just more proof that Mother Nature has a really twisted sense of humor.
After weeks of sweltering heat and humidity on Cape Cod, a wind shift and cooler temperatures brought some relief. The late-July fishing is great, and fishermen all over the Cape have plenty of reasons to get excited about fishing this weekend.
Fishing in the Cape Cod Canal has been hit or miss during the past week. Topwater results with striped bass are good one morning and zilch the next. Some nice keeper size bass have been taken behind the Bourne skating rink and a mid-week blitz took place behind Joe's Fish Market in Sandwich. Naturally, the stripers churned the surface just out of range for 90 percent of the folks throwing plugs. Sometimes the fish almost seem to have internal GPS that tells them where to locate themselves in order to drive anglers nuts. Out in Cape Cod Bay Billingsgate continues to deliver bass upwards of twenty pounds to tube-and-worm specialists and action on western edge of the Brewster Flats picks up on falling tides during the evening hours after beach goers have departed the scene.
The stretch of beach between Sandwich and Barnstable Harbor has been productive for bass and blues and shore-based anglers with a little patience and tenacity have picked up sizable bass with best results in the wee early morning hours before the life guards set up for business along Sandy Neck beach. Bottom fishing for black sea bass, tautog, scup and the like continues to thrive at the wreck site of the old target ship, the James Longstreet.
On the Nantucket Sound side water temperatures in the 70s make striper fishing a challenge, especially in shallow waters. Boat anglers working along the Elizabeth Islands continue to pick up keeper bass size but will have to work for their catches. I've had pretty good luck using smaller lures and slowing down retrieves unless I happen across strong currents, rips and fast-moving water such as those making up around the edges in Woods Hole channel. Pulling jig-and-plastic combos through those places usually produces good results and metal slabs will, on occasion, work when nothing else seems to.
The Middleground harbors a lively fluke population and drifting a strip of fluke belly on a westerly tide has been productive for some locals looking to put some doormat fillets in the freezer for late season grilling. Lucas Shoal holds a supply of fluke as well but these flatties have been running on the small size lately. We're going into August now with water temperatures in the seventies and that's a recipe for bonito to show up sooner than later. The western end of Nantucket Sound will be seeing these funny fish in numbers before too long and the false albacore will make their presence known as well. Local estuaries are beginning to sprout snapper blues in a big way and I know of a couple locals who don't even start fishing for striped bass until they've got a bait-well full of snappers for live-lining purposes.
South of the Vineyard there have been reports of yellowtail tuna and mahi mahi being caught. Back in the day these fish rarely, if ever, made an appearance in Cape waters…now they're fairly common visitors. Don't know what it takes to convince some folks that climate change isn't a government plot cooked up by President Obama, but just in my lifetime there have been water temperature changes that are kind of hard to dismiss as such.
Now's a pretty good time to scout around for mako and thresher sharks in Cape Cod Bay. That "reaper" tail the thresher shark wields is a sight unlikely to be forgotten, the same way spotting an ocean going sunfish (mola mola) falls into the unforgettable-event category.
Sometimes you run across a story that reminds you just ho star-crossed some people can be. Like the pregnant Maine woman and her friend who got lost hiking and were rescued but died later that evening when they accidentally drove their car into the ocean in the nighttime fog.
"They called on the phone that they were in the water and the car was filling up. Then the phone went dead," Smith said. "An hour later, the deputies found the car."
Earlier in the evening, the women had been hiking in Roque Bluffs State Park but got lost and called for help. A local resident found them and their dog and gave them rides on his ATV back to his house, where a warden picked them up and brought them to their vehicle, which was parked at the park.
But it appears Stiner drove toward the boat ramp instead of in the other direction toward Machias. After the women called 911, authorities used GPS coordinates from the cellphone to place the van near the boat ramp. Responders at first couldn't find it because it was dark and foggy out, and the dark-colored van was in 20 feet of water and couldn't be seen from shore or the water's surface, said Lt. Travis Willey, of the sheriff's department.
A volunteer diver from the Jonesboro Fire Department found the car about 175 feet off the boat ramp, the women and the dog inside with the doors closed and the windows up.
"It appears they went the wrong direction and drove off the ramp," said Sheriff Smith.
I suppose we can file this story under the heading: If it wasn't for bad luck, they'd have no luck at all.
July 25, 2013
Mid-Season in Cape Waters
by Jerry Vovcsko
It's been a case of the Return-of-Jaws over the past week. Last Sunday a fifteen footer was spotted staking seals on the beach near Chatham and the following day a fourteen foot shark cruised a couple hundred yards offshore a little further north of Chatham also on the lookout for a nice seal meat dinner. As the beach was clear of people it wasn't closed but officials kept a wary eye out for any repeat visits.
July 14, 2013
Declaring War on the Man-O-War and Other Odd Notions
by Jerry Vovcsko
BREAK OUT THE MEAT TENDERIZER
Some unlucky tourists summering on Martha's Vineyard found themselves tangled up with an unwelcome guest at South Beach near Edgartown last week. That beach was closed for a day while Vineyard Parks Department employees scrambled to clear away remnants of Portuguese men-o-wars, those strange, purplish, helmet-shaped balloon-like critters that are carried by wind and current and float from place to place with stinging tentacles dangling upwards of six or eight beneath the surface.
July 04, 2013
Don't Taze Me, Bro!
by Jerry Vovcsko
It's tough enough to catch fish to begin with. They are elusive critters and even when you get a hook into them, chances are, they'll still manage to find a way to escape. But now it looks like an angler may also have to worry about getting ambushed and tasered by one species of these bottom dwellers and that just doesn't seem fair at all.
June 20, 2013
Fishing the Back Side of the Elizabeth Islands
by Jerry Vovcsko
Back in the 70s and 80s my neighbor and I used to religiously fish the Elizabeth Island chain about five mornings a week.
The fishing was good and a successful outing depended largely on our willingness to get in close to the rocks lining the shore and work plugs, plastics and live eels in the wash.
June 13, 2013
Tautog, Tunnies and Tebow
by Jerry Vovcsko
Tim Tebow signing with the Patriots? Really? That's just the sort of sports headline that can get you a hot cup of coffee square in your lap if you're not careful. I mean...Tim "God Is My Co-Pilot" Tebow signing with the home team? After all the ridicule we Pats fans heaped on Rex Ryan for signing the kid? C'mon... Yeah, but then again, who knows? The Pats' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel saw enough in Timmy T, to spend a high draft choice on him back in Denver and the lefty QB in a tight end's body did pull out an overtime playoff win against a pretty decent Pittsburgh Steeler team...so, who knows?...maybe Belichick and McDaniel have some secret-weapon-plan in mind for this young man. One thing's certain, if Tim Tebow makes the team it will be an interesting 2013/2014 season in the NFL...I'm sure looking forward top it.
And here we go again…the first great white shark sighting close enough to shore to get the beaches closed. Happened over the weekend when a senior lifeguard at Nauset Beach spotted a dorsal fin about 150 yards offshore and had swimmers get out of the water. Judging by the distance between the dorsal fin and the tail the shark was estimated to be between 12 and 13 feet. The shark was soon seen heading toward Chatham (home of the seal colonies) and the beach was reopened an hour later. Looks like the great whites have made the outside beaches of the Cape a regular way stop on their pelagic travels. The Department of Fish and Game urges beachgoers to stay close to the shore and avoid swimming at dawn and dusk and last summer, a Boston man swimming in Truro survived the first shark attack in the Commonwealth since 1936.
Many anglers familiar with Cape Cod waters would pick mid-June as perhaps the best time to fish for stripers, blues, tuna and other species such as tautog and black sea bass. Stripers and blues are everywhere right now and reports of bluefin tuna east of Chatham and northward toward Stellwagen Bank have included a couple measuring upwards-of-90-inch fish recently. Always an exciting prospect to know the big tunnies are back in town and for some it signals the quasi-official kickoff of the real fishing season on the Cape. This was definitely the breakout week for bluefin. Calm seas early in the week made conditions just right for spinning and trolling anglers working just off the outside beaches. More and more giants are being caught including a 92-incher an angler caught using spinning gear on a charter boat. In addition, numerous fish in the 60 and 70-inch size range have been taken and the stretch of water around Peaked Hills bar has been productive for those in pursuit of the Bigs.
Turn-of-tide times in the Cape Cod Canal have been producing good catches of stripers in the mid-teens to twenty pound range as warmer water pouring in from Buzzards Bay takes the chill off the Ditch and generates results up around the east end. Bluefish have also moved into the Canal there have been a few pushing double digits lately caught by anglers working jig and plastic combos during waning and slack tide conditions. Bluefish in the Ditch are a true good news/bad news deal…on the one hand it's nice to see the moving in locally but it's also bad news for everyone but the tackle shops as these toothy critters can easily put a dent in a fisherman's wallet by inevitably carving up these soft baits. One old timer saves those shredded plastic eels and trims them down on his workbench and "laminates" two plastics together with Neoprene Queen, a wetsuit adhesive, and a couple wraps of dental floss to secure the ends. He claims the refurbished plastics work "just about as good as new" and saves a few bucks in the process.
The area around the big pilings at the west end of the Canal has been a bluefish hot spot for the bigger fish but folks working from small skiffs want to take care when the tide runs against a southwest wind as that area can gin up a real messy chop in short order and three to six foot random wave turbulence can quickly take the fun out of fishing when things get hairy for those in a small boat.
Bluefish and stripers have been providing plenty of action for anglers stationed around Race Point and around westward to Herring Cove. Early morning topwater activity has resulted in bass in the high teens and an occasional twenty pound specimen. (One local bait shop confirmed a forty eight inch striper caught in the Sound). Big swimming plugs, jigs and mackerel chunks are the preferred offerings for dusk and into the hours of darkness with live eels beginning to show up more frequently now as the bait of choice.
In Vineyard Sound the entire south side of the Cape swarms with recently arrived stripers and bluefish. Anybody looking to take a few fresh bluefish for the grill need only have a bit of patience while casting smallish jigs or plugs and before long a pod of three to four pound blues will likely come calling. Keeping a couple beater-type plugs in the tackle box with squashed barbs is a pretty good idea when bluefish are around as it makes it way easier to unhook them and the condition and appearance of the plug is largely irrelevant – blues will attack just about anything that swims. It's not a bad idea to keep a couple of metal slabs on hand as they can be particularly effective on bright, sunny days with their sparkly reflective surfaces.
Bluefish have taken up residence around the Vineyard and stripers have moved into the estuary ponds recently and some of these bass carry substantial size. Fly rod equipped anglers have had good success with these stripers on an ebbing tide from dusk well into dark. During the daytime hours the bluefish are everywhere and provide great fun for one and all, especially for those fishing with kids. Rick, my oldest boy, got really hooked on fishing back in the late 70s when we went out early one morning before school and caught 65 blues among the three of us. The fish were all right around five pounds and by the time we wrapped things up Rick said his arm was sore from hauling in those feisty blues and he was raring to get out there again where the blues would hit anything you threw their way and sometimes when you were landing one fish another would hit the plug hanging from the first one's mouth. I told him it's not like that all the time but when it is, it's something you don't forget. Sure enough, some thirty-five years later, he still remembers that morning.
June 05, 2013
Groundfish in the Bay and Controversy At the Canal
by Jerry Vovcsko
Last weekend saw typically decent early season striper fishing around Nantucket but trouble showed up when a charter boat capsized near Bonito Bar and five people ended up in the water for nearly three hours before being rescued in the late afternoon. Local officials blamed a "series of waves" for the boat turning over. Bonito Bar has a history of wave-related incidents as it was there in 2008 that a 26-foot Regulator got flipped by a rogue wave and ended up sinking and then drifting across the Atlantic to wash ashore on the coast of Spain some three years later. Also last weekend a wader-clad gent fishing from a sandbar in the harbor got cut off by the tide and had to be rescued by a good Samaritan on a paddleboard.
Meanwhile, back on the Cape, controversy around the summer train service between Hyannis and Bourne continues to simmer over fishing access to the Cape Cod Canal. Local anglers who have historically crossed the train tracks to get to favored fishing spots or pull their lobster pots are angry about the appearance of "no-trespassing" signs posted along the tracks in dozens of locations. Add the newly posted access restriction to the already existing lack of parking and folks who have fished the canal for decades are concerned. Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation say the signs are intended to warn people of the dangers of trespassing on the rail line, an explanation that does little to alleviate canal anglers' anxiety what with State law threatening a $100 fine or 50 hours of community service as well as arrest for violations. A DOT spokesperson says the signs have been installed in locations where there is evidence of recent and continual trespassing.
Overall, it's been typical early season fishing action with Buzzards Bay lighting up for ground fishing – tautog and sea bass in the area around Cleveland Ledge in particular along with scup and fluke throughout the Bay and down along the Elizabeth Islands. The mouth of Lackey's Bay has been seeing plenty of scup action, a fishing activity that's especially enjoyable for kids as these little critters will continue to bite as long as anybody's willing to drop a worm in their vicinity. Many a youngster has been introduced to the sport via an afternoon of scup fishing.
The Middleground continues to deliver catches of keeper size fluke and half-ounce jigs tipped wit flue belly strips are definitely effective around there. Best drift has been on the west-running tide. The absence of commercial squid boats this spring point to a disappointing year for folks who relish a fine calamari feast on the dinner table. There have been numerous theories about their absence but according to some of the old timers, it was just "one of those years when the squid didn't show up."
Stripers have been showing up in the Cape Cod Canal however, and some of the ones arriving recently have decent size now including a fat thirty four pound fish caught on a jig during slack tide Monday evening not far from Joe's fish market – how fitting is that? Over the years a lot of bass have come out of the Ditch having eaten a jig worked down deep along the rocky bottom. Anglers new to the Canal sometimes find it difficult to accept the need to plumb the depths with four to six ounce jigs but those are swift currents swirling through there and it's not possible to get lighter jigs into the strike-zone when the tide starts running.
Yes, it can get expensive snagging jigs on boulders, lobster pots and the varied debris that lines the bottom of the canal, but, as the locals say, "If you ain't losing jigs in the rocks, you ain't fishing where you should be" and that's the God's truth. To catch the big ones it takes big jigs and big plastic baits…newbies to the Ditch may consider it overkill to flip a twelve inch jig & plastic combo into the current but Canal Rats who've fished here for years consider that rig business-as-usual.
Over in Cape Cod Bay the tube-and-worm lads have been making hay around Billingsgate on good sized bass in the slot and some of the highliners use a trick they've employed over the year that's proved effective. They'll slow the boat to a near stop when they make the turn causing the tube to sink deeper and closer to some of the "holes" in that area, then add a bit of throttle as they come out of the turn. Right about then is when they're liable to get the hit and frequently it's a jumbo striper on the line. Maybe the Large like to lie deep in ambush and when they see the tube/worm rig falling and then starting to "swim" away, it triggers their strike reaction. I first saw one of the charter skippers work that technique and found it impressive..and productive.
Further north some city anglers have been doing well for themselves from the beach around Castle Island in Boston. Fishing a late evening ebb tide has been putting keeper sized fish in the cooler lately and swimming plugs seem to do the trick. To my mind, when swimming plugs are mentioned I reach for a blackback five and a quarter inch Rebel, one of the sinking variety that I've hung onto since back when you couldn't find them in the bait and tackle shops anymore. But nothing seems to work quite as well for me as these old favorites do and while others say they do well with the floating variety, for me there's no comparison and I'll keep hunting for them at tag sales and online auctions.
The past week saw plenty of bass and blues caught along the stretch of south-facing beaches between Falmouth and South Cape Beach. Not a whole lot of size, maybe, but all the action an angler could wish for. Maybe there are folks who become annoyed at having their lures grabbed by undersized stripers or three-pound bluefish but I'm not one of them. When it seems these sized fish are what's at hand and it looks like that's going to be pretty much what I can expect for the day's activity, instead of getting grumpy about it I bend down the barbs, switch to whatever light gear I have at hand and settle in for a day's worth of fishing in Cape waters.
I think sometimes I get a little bit spoiled and kind of lose track of how lucky we are to be out there enjoying ourselves and communing with the fishy environment around the Cape, but with my seventy-fifth birthday looming on the horizon I try to take very little for granted these days. Three-pound bluefish or twenty-four inch striped bass…hey, I'll take ‘em and consider myself among the luckiest folks on the planet because I can do this kind of fishing every day if I feel like it from mid-May through to Thanksgiving and maybe a little beyond. How many anglers would wish for the chance to say the same?
May 30, 2013
Some Areas Turning On Around the Cape
by Jerry Vovcsko
Looks like temperatures, both air and water, are due for a serious upward spike over the upcoming weekend. Right now water temps in Nantucket Sound are sitting in the mid-fifties but the weather folks tell us we're going to see air temperatures zooming into the ninety-degree range for the next four days.
May 21, 2013
Notes From Around the Cape
by Jerry Vovcsko
Looks like the current version of the Gold Rush of 1849 is off and running…only this time it's happening in Maine and instead of the yellow, shiny stuff, it's all about eels and folks getting rich overnight.
May 14, 2013
Season's Open; the Stripers are Here!
by Jerry Vovcsko
The 2013 striper season is definitely under way and water temperatures in the mid-50s are proving attractive to migrating bass as more and more fish swarm into the waters around Cape Cod.
May 06, 2013
Fishing the Cape: Brewster to The Cape Cod Canal
by Jerry Vovcsko
Coming back from Provincetown, when you get back to the Orleans rotary keep an eye out for signs pointing toward Rock Harbor. It's your first right just after you enter the rotary, and a couple miles down the road you'll find yourself at a small parking lot near a cluster of charter boats in the twenty eight to thirty four foot range.
These will be skippered by some of the finest guides to have set trolling lines in the Bay. Their lineage has its roots in names well known within the Cape's maritime heritage – Snow, Larkin, Nickerson, Harris, et al - and traces back to that original Old Timer, Phil Schwind, who, with a few friends, invented and developed the sport fishing charter industry in Cape Cod Bay following WWII. If you have a hankering to see lots of striped bass in the thirty pound and up range, be here when the charter boats unload their catch dockside. It's a great photo op and serves as a reminder that these Large bass are still around if you know how to find them. Bear in mind that many of the ones you see were caught on the classic tube and worm rig.
Continuing west on route 6A you'll find yourself on Main Street in the village of Brewster. Lots of antique and gift shops along here but a right hand turn on almost any one of those side streets (especially the ones with the suffix, Landing, as in: "Captain's Landing"), takes you to Cape Cod Bay. It gets a little tricky to find parking down there and pay attention to parking related signs, lest you find a ticket waiting upon your return…or your car towed. Generally speaking, you can find beach access after five PM once the swimmers have headed back to their rental cottages to shower and dress for dinner.
If the tide is dead low, you can walk out on the "Flats" for more than a mile and find wonderful conditions for fly fishing out there at the water's edge with virtually unlimited room for backcasts.
One caveat! Pay attention to tidal conditions and look behind you from time to time. The tide doesn't come straight in and you can find yourself cut off by deep channels forming behind where you're fishing if you're not paying attention. Just to ratchet up the excitement level a few notches, a few anglers who regularly fish The Flats mentioned brushes with sand sharks. One gent told of being waist deep on the flats casting his Clouser toward a school of stripers that were feeding on silversides. He felt something brush against his thigh and watched as a sand shark he estimated at eight feet glided past. That's the sort of experience that'll make you change your shorts in a hurry.
The next town over, Dennis, provides some good beach access along with a summer theater that drew such thespian stars as Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, Betty Davis and others back in the day. One spot worth wetting a line from is Corporation Beach and back in my more youthful times, I used to Scuba dive there and pick lobsters from their lairs among the rock ledges and boulders that crust the bottom just offshore. Nowadays this same area is home to a thriving tautog population and a few green crabs can go a long way toward helping to fill the freezer with tasty ‘tog. Expect to lose some hooks and line in here as the snag potential is high and, as the locals put it, "if you ain't losing gear, you ain't fishing deep enough."
Further west on route 6A brings us to Barnstable harbor and you'll want to take a look there, especially if you've been searching for a boat launch ramp with parking available. Costs five bucks (unless the rate went up while I wasn't looking) and you can park your car and trailer there. A skiff with, say, a five-horse engine or better will allow you to spend the better part of the summer finding productive spots to fish all through here without leaving the sheltered waters of the harbor. There are sand bars, weed beds, channels and pier pilings galore scattered all around the harbor and every one of them is a likely hang-out for striped bass and bluefish as well. The harbor winds westerly up into what's listed on the map as Scorton Creek ( locals refer to the creek further west along 6A as the "real Scorton Creek".) You can cruise to your heart's content and sometimes I think the tube and worm technique must have been invented in these waters because it's an absolute killer method for catching bass.
Continuing on the last leg of our round-the-Cape quest for good places to fish…after leaving Barnstable Harbor the next stop brings us to Sandy Neck beach. It's a few miles west of the harbor and calls for sharp eyes or you'll miss the Sandy Neck Road sign just off route 6A. Follow that about 3 miles and you'll come to the parking lot. There's a park ranger shack at the entrance and it'll cost ten bucks to park during the day in season. But you don't want to fish there in the daytime anyhow as the beach is jammed with families and sun worshippers. But if high tide turns to ebb an hour or so before dawn, or just before dark in the evening, it's a very good spot to swim an eel or toss plugs. Sand bars appear all over the place on a falling tide and the channels that form are also worth a look, especially for the fly fishing contingent.
Heading west again, toward Sandwich, keep an eye out for a winding tidal creek; that's the Scorton Creek I mentioned earlier, and a few hundred yards after you cross over it on 6A you'll see a dirt road off to your left.
Drive down in there (slowly, there are lots of ruts and holes) and you'll come to a natural parking space that overlooks the marsh. This area is a fly fisherman's paradise and a potential nightmare all at the same time. The creek is less than twelve or fifteen feet wide in places back there and it's real tempting to try and jump the channel to get to a better spot but many an unlucky soul has ended up muddied and stinky from an excess of optimism about their broad jumping capabilities. Experienced locals solve the stream-crossing dilemma by dragging a plank along to facilitate fording the creek. Look for stripers finning and feeding up in these back waters. And don't be deceived by the skinny water, some Large bass have been taken here, including one in the low forties that I know about, caught a few years back on a sea worm. Scorton is a kayakers heaven and drifting way up into the marsh on a fine summer day is a seriously pleasant way to commune with Mother Nature.
Sandwich is the next stop heading west and you'll want to turn right at the lights in the center of town and follow the signs to the town beach. Walk that beach toward the east and you'll come to the old Sandwich harbor with a busted up jetty and a creek emptying into the Bay. Be careful out here. The mouth of the creek is very inviting and you can score on stripers when the tide's right and the current's running. But you can also get trapped out there and this is a location where a number of inattentive anglers drowned over the years, many of them fly fishermen who had waded out and stepped off into a deep channel on the way back in; waders filled up and that's all she wrote. But stripers, blues and, on occasion, school sized Pollock can be found here. And mackerel will cruise through from time to time, making it a lot of fun for those who brought their light spinning gear along.
Continuing on, 6A brings us to the Cape Cod Canal.
Follow the signs to the parking lot by Joe's Fish Market. That path that runs along the canal past the rest rooms will take you to the long jetty that usually holds a few meat fishermen chucking clams of belly strips for flounder, scup or sea bass.
But there'll be others tossing plugs and metal or bouncing jigs off the bottom. Spend a couple of hours around here and you'll see it all: tourists with spinning reels upside down on their rods; "Canal Rats" who ride the access road with custom designed bikes rigged with rod holders for their expensive conventional setups; kids with everything from Sabiki rigs on handlines to basic spinning outfits; the Orvis crowd with every weight of fly rod imaginable and everything in between. Now and then a school of blues will erupt in a feeding blitz and every conceivable type of lure will rain down on the fish as the anglers in the vicinity fire away hoping for a hookup.
No point in trying to give detailed advice here about fishing the Canal; can't be done in a paragraph or two. Best I can say is, watch what the folks who look like they know what they're doing are up to. Don't crowd them while they're working their lures but pay attention to the kind of gear they're using and if the action slacks off, feel free to ask politely for advice. Don't, however, expect to get detailed information on where their favorite spots are located. That's privileged info that they've likely spent years figuring out.
If you've read the first five parts of this series, you should have a basic idea of where to start looking when you visit the Cape. Pick an area and don't forget to scout it out on a variety of tides. One thing about Cape Cod that I've always loved is anytime you get near the water anywhere down here, you have a great chance to catch fish. But your chances to get into some decent action rise considerably if you work some of the places mentioned. Tight lines and good fishing; enjoy.
April 28, 2013
Fishing the Cape: Eastham to Provincetown
by Jerry Vovcsko
There aren't many places on the Cape (or anywhere else for that matter) where an angler can choose where to fish from seventeen and a half miles of open beach, striped bass territory. But the stretch of sand between South Wellfleet and Peaked Hill Bars just off North Truro is definitely one of them.
April 18, 2013
Fishing the Cape: Dennis, Harwich and Chatham
by Jerry Vovcsko
Although a lot fishing reports will cover Chatham thoroughly, you don't often hear much about the area around Dennis and Harwich. Which is odd because not only is there plenty of striper and bluefish action available but being at the eastern end of Nantucket Sound, this area will occasionally report catches of some really unusual species.
April 11, 2013
Fishing the Cape: Part II, Waquoit Bay to Bass River
by Jerry Vovcsko
Continuing with the tour of places-to-fish on Cape Cod, we left off at Menahuant beach in East Falmouth which puts us back eastbound on route twenty eight coming out of East Falmouth. Next is Waquoit Bay and a good place to stop there is the Waquoit Sanctuary which offers plenty of parking and access to the river as well as to the Bay itself.
April 05, 2013
Fishing the Cape: Falmouth to Provincetown
by Jerry Vovcsko
It can be daunting to arrive at Cape Cod wondering where to find a good place to fish. Heck, never mind a "good" place to fish, just finding an accessible spot can be a challenge.
March 26, 2013
The Shining Tides and Funding For Fisheries Assistance
by Jerry Vovcsko
In the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, the United States Senate has passed an amendment that would allow funds in next year's federal budget to be used to aid fishermen in the Northeast. The amendment, introduced by Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, was included in the Senate budget proposal that passed early last week.
March 18, 2013
Stompin' At the Savoy and Boogying At the Quabbin
by Jerry Vovcsko
***"I think I fish, in part, because it's an anti-social, bohemian business that, when gone about properly, puts you forever outside the mainstream culture without actually landing you in an institution."
March 12, 2013
Spring's Coming and So Are the Stripers
by Jerry Vovcsko
"I look into my fly box, and think about all the elements I should consider in choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now.
March 06, 2013
Record Goldfish and More Stormy Weather
by Jerry Vovcsko
They get some weird stuff happening out there in the Midwest. Must be something in the water. Like a couple of weeks ago when a gent named Mike Martin headed out on the ice of Lake St. Clair in Michigan to do a little hardwater angling. The angling gods must have been smiling on Mr. Martin because it wasn't long before he felt the hit and pulled up a bright orange goldfish. A three-pound goldfish that measured out at an eye-popping fifteen inches!
"Basically, I was doing what I always do, trying to catch perch and I thought I had a big perch on" said Martin during an NPR interview. "Definitely not a perch…I've been fishing this lake for 20 years, first one I've ever caught. I called my dad the second it came out of the hole. I didn't know what to do with it…asked him what I should do with it. I've never caught a goldfish. What do you do with a goldfish?"
Eat it or mount it, I suppose, depending on whether Martin craves admiration or a good meal. Either way, it's not something that happens every day although fish experts say the main factors that affect the growth of a goldfish are feeding and temperature, and that in ponds, life spans of 15 to 20 years are not unheard of. Don't know if there's a goldfish category in the record books but, if so, three pounds rates at least an honorable mention I would think.
Locally, it's a case of here-we-go-again as another winter storm is on the way north along the coast and the weather folk tell us we may be seeing snow, rain, sleet and generally slushy conditions depending on where the storm center passes by. A fifty-mile change in direction by the storm can mean the difference between five or ten inches of snow they tell us.
As if heavy snow isn't enough of a problem the forecast includes fifty-knot wind gusts that are slated to produce twenty-five foot waves just offshore. All I ask is that we don't lose power again like the last storm inflicted. These old bones of mine did not respond well to thirty five degree temperatures IN the house. That's enough to get a man thinking seriously about booking Jet Blue for a few days in Aruba or St. Thomas, or anyplace that's warm.
They tell us things will pick up once this storm passes through and air temperatures creep upwards of fifty degree over the next ten days or so. I hope so, because the Mass Wildlife folks are putting their trucks on the road with lots of trout and salmon to stock local ponds. Peters Pond in Sandwich has been rewarding anglers with some nice broodstock salmon and a few browns have been picked up at the Brewster Ponds, Sheeps and Cliff ponds in particular.
It won't be long before the herring begin to run and soon after that the first stripers arrive in our waters and another season of great fishing begins. I mean to concentrate more on the Cape Cod Canal this year. My doctor says I could use more exercise and a few pounds less on my butt and belly so I might combine walking the bike path with a stop here and there to toss a jig & plastic combo into the current just to see what happens.
Management tells us the Red Sox should be "competitive' this season. Seems to me, every time they use that word it ends up with the Sox looking up at the Yankees in the standings come playoff time. Well, maybe this year will be different…besides, when I return from one of my Canal outings with an empty creel and the wife asks me how I did, I can always say: "Well, I was competitive, honey…and can you fix me a gin and tonic while I crawl into a nice, hot bath".
Sure sounds like a winner to me.
February 26, 2013
Fish Out of Water and The Hotdog Guy Is Here!
by Jerry Vovcsko
The NOAA buoy in Buzzards Bay reports a water temperature of 34.5 degrees and the one in Nantucket Sound reads a relatively balmy 38.9 degrees right now.
February 21, 2013
And You Thought Eels Were For Bait!
by Jerry Vovcsko
New Hampshire officials say two people climbed to safety when their pickup truck crashed through ice on Lake Winnipesaukee. Police in Meredith said two people were driving the truck back to shore from an ice fishing shack Saturday night when it plunged through the ice near the boat launch on Meredith Bay.
February 12, 2013
Nemo, Blizzard of 2013
by Jerry Vovcsko
Went to bed last Friday with high winds from winter storm Nemo rattling tree limbs against the house.
February 06, 2013
Pond Fishing On the Cape
by Jerry Vovcsko
Looks like those Great white shark taggings on the Cape last year are starting to pay off. One of the sharks, named Mary Lee by the folks who tagged her off Chatham, was tracked rounding Montauk in late January heading back to Cape Cod.
January 30, 2013
The Great Python Hunt and RIP A Local Legend
by Jerry Vovcsko
It always seemed as though the Florida Wildlife folks were going to try to do something about the burgeoning population of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades. And so they did. According to a blurb in the Boston Globe more than 1,000 people signed up recently to hunt Burmese pythons in the Everglades, but it appears that just a fraction of them have been successful so far.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said last week that thirty of the invasive snakes have been killed in the competition that began January 12th. The officials claim that eradicating pythons from the Everglades was never the goal of the month long ‘‘Python Challenge.'' Instead, they say they hoped to raise awareness about the snake's threat to native wildlife and the fragile Everglades ecosystem. Pythons face both state and federal bans and nobody really knows just how many of these snakes infest the Everglades, but researchers say the hunt is helping them collect more information about the pythons' habits.
Not sure which is potentially the biggest danger: That the Everglades harbor these big-time eating machines that can grow upwards of twenty feet, or that a thousand or so heavily armed good-‘ol-boys are wandering the swamps looking to blow them away; it just might be a tossup.
A couple of weeks ago the Cape unexpectedly lost one of its local legends. Dave Masch, fisherman, raconteur and blithe-spirit-emeritus suffered a massive heart attack and passed away at seventy-five. Dave's name should be familiar to many as a result of his contributions to "On the Water" magazine via his "Cooking the Catch" and "Ask Pops" columns. The longtime Falmouth and Woods Hole resident touched the lives of an awful lot of people during his lifetime.
He worked with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for 10 years and helped found the Penikese Island School, a boarding school for troubled juveniles where he was tagged with the "Pops nickname. I met Dave back in the seventies when I worked in the Falmouth School system and crossed paths with him at some of the alternative educational programs that had sprung up in Falmouth. He was, as they say, "bigger than life.""
He published his first "Cooking The Catch" recipe book in 2006 which sold surprisingly well for a local undertaking. In the book's introduction, he says, "I saw the ocean in 1955 and have not yet recovered from it." He had recently published "Cooking The Catch II" when the heart attack (he had previously survived two others) took his life. But sense of humor? It was pure Dave Masch when he kidded about another book he wanted to write…his working title was: "Having Fun With Your Grandkids With Fire and Explosives."
RIP, Dave, you touched many lives and we will miss you.
It's not Halloween right now but the fishing situation on Cape Cod is definitely a trick-or-treat proposition. Just when it look like a streak of single-digit temperatures has formed thick, solid ice on the local ponds, don't we find ourselves smack in the middle of fifty-degree spring-like weather. Yessir, classic New England weather…don't like what you've got? Wait a day and here comes the opposite.
Anyhow, the best bet right now is to spend some time checking out local ponds to see which of them have some shoreline access. On your life be careful of that ice crust; it's likely to be extremely unstable and a late January plunge into the water can be life-extinguishing. I've had some success in previous years finding a pond with open water between the shoreline and the edge of the ice field and casting bait or lure out onto the ice and slowly working it back until it drops off the edge into the water. Right then is when the strike is likely to come and you can see the line move sideways a little as a fish takes the bait.
It's an effective technique at times, especially with pickerel and bass. Mouse or frog artificials are probably the best lure choice…I suppose the fish may have seen critters fall from the ice shelf now and then. Rubber worms also draw some action and I like to play around by working them to the edge and letting them dangle partially over until they fall. Inevitably, strikes will come right after the splash. It's sort of the winter version of topwater action and will certainly sharpen an angler's concentration and test the reflexes when the bass are hitting.
Super Bowl Sunday coming up this weekend but us New England Patriot fans no longer have a dog in this hunt so it won't capture my interest quite as much. I've gotten a little tired of Ray Lewis's "celebration of Me" routine so I suppose I'll root for the 49'ers. And maybe in this year's college draft Bill Belichick will find that big, fast wide receiver the Pats haven't had since the days of Randy Moss so that when next year's Super Bowl rolls around, the Pats will be in it!
January 15, 2013
Bobcats In the Garage and Whales in Cape Cod Bay
by Jerry Vovcsko
The upcoming weather forecasts do not exactly lead us to believe a cornucopia of piscatorial plenty will soon be forthcoming. Nossir, declining temperatures with snow and freezing rain mixed in over the next couple of weeks murmur to us that pulling a kitchen chair a little closer to the old woodstove would be a smart move for these old bones.
But just because the fishing's not too promising right now, there's still plenty going on here in the New England region. Take the morning Roger Mundell Jr. experienced last week. He went out to his garage in the Central Massachusetts town of Brookfield to fetch some tie-down straps for a friend and next thing he heard was a hiss before a bobcat pounced on him sinking its teeth into his face and its claws in his back.
The critter then ran out of the garage and bit Mundell's 15-year-old nephew on the arms and back. Mundell jumped on the bobcat and with help from his wife managed to pin the cat to the ground and shoot it dead. State Environmental Police took the bobcat to have it tested for rabies, which they think is likely given its unusually aggressive behavior.
Mundell, along with his nephew and his wife began treatment for rabies. Although his wife wasn't bitten, the animal's blood got on her. Local newspapers reported that state lab results on the dead animal were announced at a subsequent selectman's board meeting in Brookfield confirming that the animal did indeed have rabies. Folks who have undergone a series of rabies shots say the treatment is painful but the disease in far worse and the Mundells are expected to make full recoveries.
Meanwhile, the first official whale sighting of 2013 on Cape Cod Bay was confirmed by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) this past Saturday as a right whale mother and her calf was spotted off Plymouth. According to PCCS, a research organization that has been conducting aerial surveys for right whales since 1997, this is the earliest a right whale has been spotted in Cape Cod Bay.
Scientists believe most right whale calves are usually born in December and January in southern waters off Georgia and Florida. The mother and child pairs then head north to the Cape Cod region to feed in early April. The good news is that New England Aquarium researchers have confirmed the identity of the mother. Wart--as she is known--was last seen in May 2010. The Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team at PCCS had succeeded in freeing Wart from an entanglement.
As she had not been seen since 2010, researchers had been very worried about Wart but spotting her in the Bay is exciting news for the population. With only 500 North Atlantic right whales left, the survival the reproduction potential of mature females is particularly critical to conservation efforts said a PCCS official.
NFL fans know the Houston Texans came to town last Sunday…and four hours later headed out of town (and the playoffs), having lost to the Patriots 41-28 in a game that wasn't really that close. Unfortunately the win cost the Pats the services of All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski; the Big Guy re-broke his arm and is lost to the Pats for the rest of the season.
Next Sunday the Baltimore Ravens will be coming to Foxboro led by their aging-but-still-vocal linebacker Ray Lewis who's been conducting a loud Celebration-of-Me in preparation for retirement. The Patriots will undoubtedly do whatever they can to assist Mr. Lewis into an early retirement on their way to yet another Super Bowl appearance. Need we say it? Go Pats!
January 08, 2013
What's That Fish Worth?
by Jerry Vovcsko
I don't know if a fish can feel "like a million dollars", but there's one recently-deceased Pacific bluefin tuna that absolutely should.
December 31, 2012
Worms, Jigs and Northern Pike
by Jerry Vovcsko
It's a gloomy picture that presents itself as I peer out my kitchen widow this morning. Cloudy skies that look like they could start spitting snowflakes any moment; ice making the driveway slick and dirty snow heaped up down by the street.
December 24, 2012
Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Jerry Vovcsko
Well, folks, here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, the best of the Holidays and a Happy New Year for 2013. May Santa fill everyone's wish list and may Tom Brady and the stout lads on the New England Patriots bring yet another Lombardi Trophy home to Patriot Nation.
December 18, 2012
Looking For Fish in All the Right Places
by Jerry Vovcsko
Good news for Chatham merchants as the sixteen foot great white shark tagged off Cape Cod last September was tracked last week passing the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, SC approaching the North Carolina state line and heading our way.
December 09, 2012
Getting Kind of Cold These Days
by Jerry Vovcsko
The trick-or-treat weather we've experienced lately has really made it tough on the salt water scene what with high winds and rough seas keeping anglers pretty much shorebound.
December 01, 2012
Follow That Shark!
by Jerry Vovcsko
It's not all that uncommon to see a blind person being guided by a seeing-eye dog, but you don't generally expect to hear about the guide role being played by a shark. Which is why a recent story in an Australian newspaper really got my attention.
November 20, 2012
Gators, Sharks and a Busted Wing
by Jerry Vovcsko
You don't often run across guys like Steve Gustafson, a 66-year old grandfather from Lake County, Florida, who jumped into the water to wrestle with a 130-lb alligator in order to save his dog.
November 10, 2012
Additional Mass Deer/Turkey regs
by Jerry Vovcsko
Some hunting info from the folks at Mass Wildlife:
NEW REGULATIONS ON TURKEY HUNTING & UNCHECKED DEER POSSESSION LIMITS EFFECTIVE THIS FALL
Effective October 12, 2012
WILD TURKEY HUNTING REGULATIONS
Effective October 12, 2012, several new hunting regulations have been promulgated which expand wild turkey hunting opportunities across the state. These regulations take effect in time for the 2012 fall turkey hunting season.
November 09, 2012
by Jerry Vovcsko
What with storms churning up Cape waters over the past week or two, it's hard to get a predictable read on just what we've got for action on the salt water scene. What action there is has been localized around the Cape Cod Canal lately.
November 01, 2012
Trick or Treat!
by Jerry Vovcsko
The week before Halloween seemed the perfect time to catch a lobster whose colors were split into a perfect half and half of orange and black.
October 29, 2012
Hurricane Sandy Brings Some Weirdness Our Way
by Jerry Vovcsko
Hurricane Sandy is slithering up the east coast at the moment hell-bent on slamming into mainland somewhere in the vicinity of Atlantic City. But that shouldn't stop any truly degenerate gamblers parked at the blackjack tables from splitting aces and doubling down on eleven . Nossir, hurricane or no hurricane, keep those cards coming until the money runs out. As the old timers used to say: That's the way it goes; first your money then your clothes.
Up here in New England we expect to get less of the brunt of Sandy's wind impact but probably enough to wreck the striper fishing, maybe for the balance of the season. Typically, that's what happens when a hurricane drops in for a visit. Could be that the fall migration is over as we know it and we won't see stripers again until the 2013 season kicks in. We should have a better fix on the state of things by next weekend when the weather returns to something a little more normal.
But lobster fishermen are certainly worried about what's going to happen to their lobster traps, concerned that the traps might get banged up, moved, destroyed or otherwise knocked out of commission by the storm. In a fishery already reeling from low prices, Sandy's visit could put a number of fishermen out of business if large numbers of traps are lost. Some lobsterman are bringing in their traps or running them into deeper water to prevent them from being tossed among by waves or swept into the rocks. But New Englanders who recall the 1991 "perfect storm" hope Hurricane Sandy spares the fishery from a devastating blow such as that one.
Hurricanes bring major concerns for anybody living or working around the ocean but that's to be expected. What you don't expect if you're out playing golf on a Southern California golf course is to be getting ready to tee off on the 12th hole only to have a tw0 foot long leopard shark fall from the sky bleeding from puncture wounds.
A golf course marshal saw something wriggling around on the tee and went to investigate. He found the shark, where it seems the bird had held it in its grasp. He got it into a bucket of water, and another employee drove the shark to the ocean and let it go. At first it didn't move, he said, "but then it flipped and took off."
And there you have it, folks…if you're looking for weird, between Hurricane Sandy, disappearing lobster traps and sharks falling from the sky at the golf course…well, it doesn't get much more weird than that. So, trick or treat to everyone, and have a real good Halloween as we lurch into November.
October 23, 2012
If You Go Into the Woods Today...
by Jerry Vovcsko
Hunting season descends on Massachusetts now and the lads in orange will slowly filter into the woods after turkey, deer, rabbits and an assortment of game birds.
October 14, 2012
The Cycle of Seasons
by Jerry Vovcsko
The past week has seen a grab-bag of results so far as fishing is concerned around Cape Cod.
October 08, 2012
Fall Fishing Around theCape
by Jerry Vovcsko
Water temperatures in Nantucket Sound continue their downward slide toward the low sixties as fall weather moves into the New England region. Right now the NOAA buoy reads sixty-three degrees, down from early Septembe
October 02, 2012
by Jerry Vovcsko
Time was when a couple of gents squared off on Main Street with six-shooters holstered and the outcome depended on fast reflexes and steely nerves.
September 26, 2012
He Gave Him the Finger!
by Jerry Vovcsko
So this guy was fishing in an Idaho lake when a total stranger gave him the finger and….. What? Wait a minute, what the hell…? Of course there's got to be more to that story…and here it is, even if it does sound kind of fishy.
September 07, 2012
Big Winds Due From the East
by Jerry Vovcsko
The political conventions may have concluded but the big winds continue to blow as Hurricane Leslie slides up the Atlantic coast on its way to the Canadian Maritimes.
September 01, 2012
Strange Days Indeed; Most peculiar, Momma
by Jerry Vovcsko
John Lennon wrote that. He was right…and they're only getting stranger. I don't watch a lot of TV but I turned the set on the other evening and what shows up on the screen but an uber-geriatric version of Clint Eastwood having an animated conversation with, by God, a chair! Not only that, but it seems whatever the chair was telling Clint, he didn't like it. Well, no wonder…if he's anything like me I don't want my chairs talking to me. There's enough muttering and grumbling when my kids deign to sit down for a family meal so I can certainly do without hearing any complaints from the furniture.
Speaking of complaints, wouldn't you know this Labor Day weekend with crowds of people mobbing the beaches Chatham officials have closed those beaches to swimming. Just way too many great white sharks roaming around real close to shore and nobody in officialdom wanting to take a chance on having some tourist separated from a body part or two. The thing is, the weather's great and the crowds are huge and they want to get in the water. So complaints? Oh yeah…big time!
And Chatham's not alone when it comes to shark dealings. The other day Orleans officials took one look at a couple of great whites frolicking near one of their beaches and they shut things down as well. They caught their share of flack from visiting beach goers and before long they reversed course and re-opened. How long they remain open? Who knows? (UPDATE: After officials spotted several great whites near Nauset Beach, Orleans parks officials made the decision to close the beach through the Labor Day weekend as a precaution. Beaches from Chatham to Orleans are now closed to swimming)
Meanwhile, on the fishing scene the summer of 2012 served up more than its share of weirdness when species rarely if ever seen in New England waters dropped by to check out the local action. Reported sightings included everything from a tropical species (frigate mackerel) to a variety of puffer fish, a red drum, gray triggerfish and a few cobia thrown in for good measure. Why the influx of strangers? Beats me. Some say it's just random excursions by stray fish surfing along on some weird eddy emanating from the nearby Gulf Stream. Others say, like hell! And they point to major climate changes thanks to global warming and further predict that coastal areas may find themselves under water before long as the ocean rises steadily over the next few decades. If so it'll have to go some to turn my house into waterfront property but I may set out a beach chair or two in the backyard, hoist a cold one and await further developments on that score.
And if it's strange behavior we're looking for, what better place to hang out than around Cape boat ramps? Yessir, grab a seat and watch what happens when newly arriving vacationers decide to back up to the ramp and launch their Bayliner. There's the usual stuff : the boat launched sans drain plug; the emergency brake routine which ends up with car, boat and trailer rolling down the ramp as wife screams and husband tries to stop the momentum manually…a maneuver that may work for Schwarzenegger, rarely for the typical weekend warrior.
Details aren't out yet but this week an elderly gent was seriously injured in an accident involving a boat trailer and a vehicle at Ockway Bay boat ramp in Mashpee. According to emergency broadcast reports, the unidentified man suffered a severe head injury and Mashpee firefighters transported him to a MedFlight helicopter crew headed for an off Cape trauma center. I'm guessing it's likely some variation on the runaway boat/trailer situation but we'll probably hear more on that later.
As to local fishing lately, there's not a whole lot in the way of success stories…unless it's bluefish an angler is after. There are plenty of those around. And the funny fish have moved in to the area too. False albacore, bonito…even a Spanish mackerel or two. Junior, an old fishing buddy of mine, says he's been catching weakfish in Buzzards Bay but I don't know about that as Junior once told me he was heading for the Canal to try for giant bluefin from shore and when I asked him later if he had any luck he just gave me this cat-that-swallowed-the-canary look and wouldn't elaborate so I don't consider him a particularly reliable source. But nobody could catch tautog over around the Weepeckett Islands like Junior and he could find scup in two inches of water which I can confirm firsthand.
There are stripers around, but they're not easy to come by. Best bet is down along the Elizabeths and pre-dawn is the time to get going after them. Quicks Hole is the best and likeliest place to start…Robinson's Hole runs a close second. Try live eels if you got ‘em, jig and plastic combos if you don't. I'd say eelskins rigged over a big Danny plug might actually be the absolute best choice but hardly anybody fishes those anymore and those that do don't need me to tell them about using the skins; they already know.
And then continuing with our loose theme of "stuff from the most peculiar, momma category", it seems some bizarre bird behavior is now threatening migrating right whales in Patagonia where seagulls have learned that pecking at the whales' backs can leave open sores and so the birds return time and time again to eat the exposed blubber. In fact the attacks by gulls on southern right whales have become so common now that authorities are planning to shoot the birds in hopes of reducing their population. The gulls wait for the whales to surface for air and then create open wounds by pecking on the exposed flesh. The gent who posted this news item online speculated that anybody who'd ever been sh*t on by a gull might want hustle down to Patagonia to get in on the Great Gull Shoot the government plans to put on down there as soon as they can get permission from the courts. Makes you wonder if the gulls lawyered up…the whales too.
So that's about it for this week and I think John Lennon was right. Most peculiar, momma…and it ain't getting better from what I can see. But it's quiet around here right now and I'm grateful my chairs aren't dispensing any political opinions at the moment. There's more than enough dammed fools handling that chore which is why I don't plan to turn the TV on again for another little while, at least not until the NFL opens its 2012/13 season. Well, maybe if I see any reruns of "Rawhide" from back when Clint Eastwood was Rowdy Yates and barely able to take two steps without stepping in a cow pie. But at least Rowdy wasn't talking to any chairs that I ever saw…and if he did, I seriously doubt they were talking back. Trail boss Gil Favor would never stand for that.
August 24, 2012
A Most Dangerous Game
by Jerry Vovcsko
In the ever-expanding category of "Stuff I didn't know", the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks commercial fishing as the deadliest job in the United States. And even though lots of people assume (thanks to reality TV's "Deadliest Catch" featuring Alaskan crab fishermen), the most dangerous fishery actually is in the northeast waters of the U.S.
August 16, 2012
Sharks Are Pelagic Creatures and Water Temps Influence CC Canal Success
by Jerry Vovcsko
Cape Cod beachgoers at Newcomb Hollow Beach spotted a 12-foot shark close to shore last week. The cluster of seals in the area probably drew the shark in for a chance to peruse the seal-menu before making his selection but whatever the reason beachgoers were impressed.
August 11, 2012
This Ain't Kansas, Toto
by Jerry Vovcsko
The August doldrums. Hard to tell if they're here or not, what with the passing thunderstorms often accompanied by sporadic micro bursts punctuated by lightning, thunder and wind gusts that threaten to recreate Dorothy's mid-air excursion with Toto and that cackling old biddy on the broom.
August 05, 2012
Atlantic Salmon Restoration Project Hits the Wall
by Jerry Vovcsko
According to a story in today's Boston Globe, almost 50 years and more than $25 million after it began the federal government is giving up on restocking the Connecticut River with Atlantic salmon.
August 01, 2012
Is That a Fin I See Over There?
by Jerry Vovcsko
You can bet the fax machines at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce are heating up these days. The Chamber's legions of PR flacks are no doubt working overtime trying to convince tourists the beaches are safe and all those vicious rumors of rampaging great white sharks are just that: rumors.
July 27, 2012
The Funny Fish Are Coming to Town
by Jerry Vovcsko
It's getting closer to funny-fish time and the bonito and false albacore are starting to make an appearance in and around Nantucket Sound and the big islands.
July 18, 2012
Alert - Striped Bass Lesions
by Jerry Vovcsko
This from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries…an advisory posted on 7/17/2012:
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is investigating reports of skin lesions found on striped bass caught in coastal waters. The bass are exhibiting red spotting along their sides.
Such skin variants may be an indication of the disease Mycobacterium, although researchers believe the lesions are most likely caused by the higher water temperatures this spring and summer.
Mycobacterium is predominent in southern waters such as Chesapeake Bay, according to a release from DMF.
Researchers are collecting data from fishermen in the area to determine the prevalence and geographic distribution of the skin lesions. Currently, instances of skin lesions in local bass is low (less than 5%), but slightly higher in the area of Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal.
Skin lesions, according to DMF are common in striped bass and may be caused by any number of things. The heightened presence of skin lesions in the area, are likely viral or bacterial in origin, but have not been positively linked to Mycobacterium. Internal and external examination of fish with such lesions has not indicated that the lesions are associated with Mycobacteriosis. No signs of abnormalities in the spleens of the tested fish have been found--a hallmark indicator of the disease according to DMF.
Fish with mild skin lesions are safe to handle and consume.
MarineFisheries has issued the following tips for handling striped bass with skin lesions:
• Wear heavy gloves to avoid puncture wounds from fish spines
• If cuts, scrapes or other open or inflamed areas of your skin are present, cover hands and wrists with an impermeable barrier like a rubber or vinyl glove
• Wash hands thoroughly with an antibacterial soap after handling fish
• Wash off all cutting boards, surfaces, knives and other utensils used to process raw fish with warm soapy water
• Discard fish with large open lesions or darkened patches in the fillets
• Persons who exhibit signs of infection on their hands after handling fish should contact their physician immediately
Researchers will continue to monitor both the recreational and commercial harvests in the area. Fishermen who observe lesions on striped bass are encouraged to report the geographical location of their find to email@example.com.
(Nobody seems to know yet all the whys and wherefores about these lesions but it doesn't sound good, and if it starts to accelerate the spread the striped bass fishery could be in real trouble, real fast. Let's hope the fish scientists get on top of it quickly. JV)
July 18, 2012
Happy Birthday to Me!
by Jerry Vovcsko
Okay, so here comes another milestone – July 18th and looks like I've made it to a whopping-big 74 years of age…Happy Birthday to me! There've been a lot of changes since I was a kid and just starting to catch on to what struck me as a really lucrative scam: Have yourself a birthday, and look here, people gave you presents! I could really get behind that idea. One of the best presents to come along showed up when I was right around nine years old or so and my dad gave me a brand new Pfleuger baitcaster reel- a level-wind at that- and I figured I'd hit the big-time for sure. That reel would be my number-one until it got lost in a move during my teen years.
It got replaced by a series of whatever-I-could-afford hardware store specials and then I laid eyes on a Mitchell 300 spinning reel and that was all she wrote for decades. The Mitchell handled everything freshwater could offer up along with schoolie-sized stripers and blues in the salt. Nowadays my Mitchells are pretty beat up and some of the parts are a bit worn but, what-the-hell, that pretty well describes me too, so we get along okay and mostly get the job done even if we don't look too spiffy doing it.
Speaking of getting the job done the hook & line commercial striped bass season opened last week and those lads surely know how to fill their boats to the gunwhales with fish. Livelining scup is one of the methods the commercials employ. They drop that tempting bait right on the nose of big stripers that hang in a variety of ambush sites and haul bass in by the bushel. The deep "holes' southwest of the Middleground is a favored location for a few locals who augment the grocery money by selling their catch. I'm okay, I guess, with folks scratching out a living by doing odd jobs locally and catching & selling some fish, but I have less patience for the notion of with a couple guys, whose fishing gear cost more than a brand new '56 Chevvy cost back in the day, hauling in stripers from the deck of a $20K Boston Whaler. There just seems something wrong about that, but maybe that's just the opinion of a cranky old crock that needs to get-with-times.
Anyhow, bluefish are still plentiful in Nantucket Sound and schools of 4 to 6-lb fish cruise the Sound regularly – the perfect size fish for a summer grilling session. Pop the fillets in aluminum foil, add a slice or two of ripe tomato, a couple slices of red onion…drizzle a little olive oil or dab a mix of mayonnaise & dark mustard on the fillets and pouch up the foil. Grill until done and Happy Eating! Wash down with a cold brew while listening to the struggles of this year's Red Sox and enjoy another fine summer day.
Right now the best places to dunk bait or toss lures include: Race Point up around Provincetown; the Chatham area from Nauset Inlet on down to Monomoy; Cuttyhunk, especially around Sow and Pigs reef and up toward Quicks Hole. The latter is especially productive around dark for those who like to work live eels into the boulders and ledges that line the bottom along these shores. Folks with local knowledge are doing well drifting live eels or tube & worming around the ledges in Woods Hole but the key there is "local knowledge". Boat traffic is heavy the current runs fierce through the Hole and those ledges are known hull-eaters if a boat wanders into the wrong place. Fog and nighttime make Woods Hole an extremely dangerous area to wander around in so have a care if you're thinking of giving it a try.
So I guess that's my Happy Birthday to Me column for 2012 and I hope I'm around to write the "I Just Turned Three Quarters of a Century Old" version in 2013. Tight line and see you out on the water.
July 11, 2012
Farewell To You Fair Spanish Ladies
by Jerry Vovcsko
More and more the scene along the eastern end of the Cape begins to look like something lifted straight from the film "Jaws" with Chatham morphing into Amityville and folks wondering when they'll see Quint come ambling down the beach singing "farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies".
July 05, 2012
Of Teasers, Stripers and Great White Sharks
by Jerry Vovcsko
More great white sharks were spotted off the coast of Chatham last week as a spotter pilot flew over the area where seals congregate near the mouth of Nauset Inlet.
June 27, 2012
Bears and Whales and Mackerel at the Canal
by Jerry Vovcsko
Cape Cod wildlife took center stage this past week. First, a young, peripatetic black bear was captured by conservation officers and trucked away to safer digs central Massachusetts.
June 23, 2012
Jaws Returns: Where's Quint When You Need Him?
by Jerry Vovcsko
Here's one for y'all…..
Polar bear walks into a bar and sits down.
Bartender says, "What'll it be?"
Bear says, "Bacardi and.......................................................................cola.
Bartender asks, "Why the huge pause?"
Bear says, "What, these? I was born with them."
June 13, 2012
We All Live in a Yellow Submarine
by Jerry Vovcsko
Plenty of bluefish to be had around Martha's Vineyard nowadays. Most of them on the small size but some jumbo choppers showing up on the south side of the island particularly around Wasque Rip. Devil's Bridge has been productive for stripers with a couple of plus-30s caught on parachute jigs over the past weekend. Across the Sound, the northwest corner of Robinsons Hole was a very good spot to toss live eels. There's a massive ledge in there that harbors Large bass and live eels are killer baits on a flood tide. The entire island chain is chock full of bass and the trick is to get baits or lures in close to the shoreline where the stripers hang out waiting for their next meal. These fish are constantly in ambush mode and a plug dropped on their nose will bring explosive strikes.
The Middleground continues to produce hefty fluke as well as scup and the odd sea bass. Setting up a drift along the reef will prove successful for those anglers employing a strip of fluke belly or squid. Jig and plastic combos work also and a few locals like to jig with a small crippled herring metal as they run the drift. Off the western end of the reef deep holes hold Large stripers that feed on scup and other baitfish when the tide's running. Drop a jig or a live-lined scup in one of these holes and the rewards can be impressive.
Speaking of scup, Cape Cod Bay along with the Canal are practically awash in these tasty little guys. A few folks have set up over the wreck of the old target ship, the James Longstreet, and are cleaning up on scup and black seabass. Billingsgate remains in play for the tube and worm lads and lassies and plenty of keeper bass have been taken there recently.
The backside beaches are beginning to heat up now as schools of stripers cruise the area from Chatham to P'town. Still awaiting the first reports of Great White shark sightings around Chatham which should be forthcoming soon as the seal population continues to thrive. I wonder who'll be the first genius to set up a mini-sub underwater tour that will allow tourists to view the great whites going after those fat, juicy seals. Whoever manages to set that up should make a small fortune letting visitors watch the carnage for twenty-five bucks a pop.
One of my predictions went awry again and the Miami Heat dispatched the Celtics in seven games to join my Patriots-will-win-the-Super-Bowl proclamation. I think I'll leave the Red Sox alone as maybe I'm jinxing the locals. Still, Jacoby Ellsbury will be back on the field before long, as will Carl Crawford and the pitching is beginning to look good. So just maybe…hmmmmm.
June 06, 2012
Striper Action and The Big Green
by Jerry Vovcsko
There's plenty of good fishing to be had pretty much throughout Cape Cod Bay. Striper activity near P'town has been consistently lively in an arc from Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro around to the Bay side at Herring Cove.
May 30, 2012
Stripers, Bluefish and Macs in the Bay
by Jerry Vovcsko
With mackerel still hanging around in Cape Cod Bay the striped bass population continues to whack chunk baits or whole macs with enthusiasm. Large fish have been taken from all parts of the Bay and the stretch of water between Race Point and Herring Cove is seeing lots of action these days.
May 23, 2012
Un-Glamorous Species, Maybe - But Good Eating
by Jerry Vovcsko
Sometimes we get so preoccupied with striped bass that we lose track of the other species that populate our waters. The sexy ones include giant bluefin tuna, Mako sharks, the ubiquitous codfish, the swordfish that roam the canyons, plus bluefish and the speed-racers: bonito and false albacore that will show up later in the season. But in addition to those hot-shot species, there are others that won't necessarily tip the scales at double-digit numbers but sure hold their own under the broiler or on the grill.
I'm talking about such low rent species as scup, black sea bass and tautog. If they haven't already eased into Cape waters, they'll soon show up in their usual haunts. It's pretty much common knowledge that tautog can be found in such locations as around Cleveland Ledge in the upper end of Buzzards Bay or over around the Weepeckett Islands. And scup are thick along that part of Lackey's Bay that separates Nonamesset Island from Naushon Island on the Vineyard Sound side. Heck, scup and ‘tog both can be caught right there in Woods Hole Harbor if you're willing to anchor up and brave the fierce rip that makes up as the tidal flow churns along at five knots or better.
Over in Cape Cod Bay there's always Corporation Beach, a boulder strewn area that serves as sanctuary to tautog, black sea bass and (drumroll here), lobsters! Back in the early 70s when I first moved to the Cape, Scuba diving for lobster was a new and exciting experience for me and if I can remember back that far I think the rec license cost something like fifteen bucks. Of course, reaching deep into some rocky grotto with visions of conger eels in the back of my mind took a bit of the luster off that adventure although I never did intrude on any sleeping congers. Did manage early-on to lose part of a fingertip to a three-lb lobster which led me to employ heavy gloves from then on but that was just carelessness on my part and not to be subsequently repeated.
Over in Nantucket Sound near Martha's Vineyard lies the Middleground, a lengthy reef that stretches east to west for about a hundred feet before sloping off into 60-foot depths. Fine doormat fluke will take up residence there, along with scup and the odd black sea bass. No need to anchor up there…set up a drift on the running tide and trail a jig ‘n squid strip combo (or a strip of fluke belly) along the reef and good things will likely come your way.
Nomans Island which lies just beyond the south west corner of Martha's Vineyard is a known striped bass destination for anglers who pursue Old Linesides in those open waters. Less well known are the schools of tautog and scup that carpet the rocky bottom around the former Navy bombing target. Don't go ashore there as live munitions still linger from the bombing runs of yore and one of those duds can wreak considerable damage with a careless step.
The mouth of the Cape Cod Canal at both ends, but particularly the eastern end, tends to congregate a variety of groundfish…everything from flounder to scup to tautog will linger around the jetty rocks hiding from the predators that cruise through the Ditch. Anglers will frequently appear to be trying to set distance-casting records while schools of bottom dwellers hang around the rocks right at their feet.
Yes, the Cape is a great place to pursue the mighty striper these days but we shouldn't overlook the less glamorous, but mouth-wateringly tasty fish that come into their own on the backyard grill or under the kitchen broiler. If there's something around tastier than a black sea bass grilled over charcoal and served up with a salad of fresh greens and a glass of chilled white wine…well, I haven't heard about it. So during the season take a day out here and there from the striper wars and take a shot at some of these deeper water species. Fun to catch; even more enjoyable fresh off the grill on your plate.
May 18, 2012
Fishing For the Record
by Jerry Vovcsko
To catch a record fish you would expect that everything has to be in just-so-condition to make it happen. Which is all the more reason that a Shrewsbury gent named Shane Felch's crossbow catch last month of a 46-lb mirror carp from Lake Quinsigamond seems startling.
May 11, 2012
Busting Out All Over
by Jerry Vovcsko
June is busting out all over, as the pop tune from the stage show "Carousel" tells us. And that also pretty well describes what's happening around Cape waters here in May as stripers and blues swarm in and spread out east and west of the Cape itself. Whether it's cow bass in the Canal or schoolies off Popponesset, the action continues to pick up as more and more fish arrive.
The Elizabeth Islands on both thee Sound and Buzzards Bay sides have seen stripers taking up residence for the past couple of weeks and these bass can be taken in the usual places: Quicks Hole, Cuttyhunk Island, Robinson's Hole…these are familiar names to folks who work the rocky shores of the Elizabeth chain and there are lots of fish to be had these days. One spot that's seen lively action recently is just west of French Watering Place and on down toward Robinsons Hole. Bass in the 28 to 34 inch range have moved in over the past week and are hitting plugs cast in tight to the shoreline.
I've been tossing old-school Rebels into those rocks for nearly forty years now and the fish don't seem to have become bored with these old-timey lures just yet. And when I break out thee bifocals and take a gander at the price tag on some of the newest, cutting edge plugs on the market nowadays I do a double-take just to make sure these tired old eyes haven't made a mistake about what they're seeing. I hear from some folks that the new lures are killer-effective, but I don't know that they're worth three times what some of my old favorites cost. When I see plugs on the shelf priced at thirty-bucks or more I begin to wonder if these new whiz-bangs are really worth that much dough.
Reason I ask is because at some point during the season I'll start digging around in the bottom of my ancient tackle box and haul out a beater plug that's barely recognizable as fishing tackle, it's so dinged up. And more often than not I'll catch a fish or two on that colorless, chewed up piece of junk, about the same as what I'd probably manage with the latest, holographic, streamlined, eye-catching, high-dollar creation whose acquisition puts a serious crimp in a fifty dollar bill. So I can't help wondering if the candle is worth the game and mostly I figure it's not and go on about my business tossing stuff from the five-dollar-bin near the cash register at the local bait & tackle emporium. And I catch fish. I mean, heck yes, a lot of these plugs are ancient, beat-up and just this side of worn out but then that description pretty well describes me too, so I suppose I'll just keep reaching down there in the depths of my decrepit old tackle box and continue old-school-style.
You've probably had somebody ask what's the best bait/lure to use to catch a striped bass. One fella that asked me about a few years back said he'd put in a decade pursuing Old Linesides and never caught one. Anyhow, I thought it over and said the closest to a sure-thing (if there is such a thing) would be a 3/4oz jig (I favor yellow with a little green mylar in the bucktail for flash) with a nice, juicy sea worm streaming from the hook. Lob-cast that combo into the nearest fishy-looking rip and slow retrieve it, pausing now and then to let it sink a bit before resuming the retrieve. It may not attract the biggest bass out there but if there's a striper in the vicinity, this is as close to sure-thing as I know.
Right now the stripers are cruising in from wherever they originated and we're going into that time when fishing's about as good as it gets on the Cape, and that's saying something. There are those, yes, who prefer the fall exodus when the bass are gobbling anything and everything, stoking in the calories and getting ready for the long swim home. So maybe this isn't the number one time, but by golly, it's high on the list.
Woods Hole area is a great place to get re-acclimated withMr. Striped Bass. Those ledges around the main channel are magnet locations for stripers and anybody up for drifting a live eel in and around there could wind up connected to a genuine cow bass, especially during the night hours. Just be sure either you or a fishing partner knows the underwater topography…there are some serious hull-eating boulders lurking below the surface and the tide really rips through there. Further east the ledges around Nobska Point lend themselves to the live-eel-drift method. Same warning, though...careful where you let the drift carry you…a southwest wind against the tide puts up a vicious chop and cross-currents converge here making things sketchy for small skiffs.
Beyond Woods Hole on the Buzzards Bay side, The Knob, a hilly peninsula just outside Quissett Harbor, collects stripers and blues on three sides and no matter where the wind blows in from, there's usually a wind shadow on one of those sides to fish from. Fly rodders especially take advantage of that when the breeze makes up around midday. Heading east Barnstable Harbor and the Bass River mouth offers good fishing right now along with the entire stretch of Oregon Beach, South Cape Beach and Poponnesset. The side channels around there are especially welcoming to kayakers as are the estuaries from Nobska eastward to Cotuit and Waquoit Bay.
There's more but we'll take a look at some of those next blog. Here's wishing a Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. That's a tough gig and they deserve our respect, admiration and, of course, our love and gratitude for all they do.
May 06, 2012
In The Merry Month of May
by Jerry Vovcsko
May has to be one of my favorite months. For one thing, it's when the stripers show up in Cape waters and the fishing season officially gets under way. This year's edition of the merry-month came accompanied by an assortment of interesting features, including Saturday's full moon, aka, Super-moon, Milk-moon and Flower-moon.
April 26, 2012
Boston Woman Murdered Over Fishing Gear
by Jerry Vovcsko
Maybe it's happened before but this is the first time I've heard of anything like it in all the years I've been around fishing and fishermen. A sixty-seven year old woman was murdered inside her South Boston home by a man who planned to rob her of valuable fishing gear and sell it online.
April 21, 2012
by Jerry Vovcsko
Oh, they're here alright. A good two weeks earlier than usual. Stripers all over the place and more on the way. Now it's more a matter of getting out there and getting your line wet than spending time and energy trying to discern what's the exact best spot to head for.
April 13, 2012
Kids Helping at the Quabbin
by Jerry Vovcsko
It's always a pleasure to see children become involved with fishing, especially when it's in the capacity as stewards of the resource. And over the past couple of weeks school children from Petersham joined state environmental officials to stock the Quabbin Reservoir with over 1,000 rainbow trout, just in time for the reservoir's open season, which began Saturday.
Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin called the collaboration a lot of wet, fishy fun and said the kids were really excited as they tossed buckets of fish into the Quabbin. And the Petersham students are not the only ones to sample the fun. This past week, school groups from Hardwick and Shutesbury turned up to help Griffin and other officials stock the Quabbin with more trout.
Each year, the state stocks over 500 bodies of water with a total of over 500,000 rainbow, brook, brown, and tiger trout from state-run hatcheries. The state has been stocking lakes and ponds since the 1880s and their work allows people to go out and enjoy the outdoors and recreate in a sustainable way. Fisheries officials labeled the stocking program as a way to get people involved and engaged in protecting the environment.
The spring stocking program, which is paid for entirely by fees associated with hunting and fishing licenses, also allows the department to educate the public about fish, environmental sustainability, and responsible recreational fishing.
Griffin said they expected to have help from about 200 school kids who will help stock the fish into the Quabbin and said further that every child involved would probably learns something about the biology of fish as well as gain information about the ponds where the fish were placed and hoped it might get them unplugged from their smartphones and iPods at least for a while.
Now that's a story that makes me feel really good. I recall when I and my family were living in Washington State and the kids were growing up, a major part of the school curriculum included the history and importance of salmon. You could ask any middle school student a question about sockeye or Coho salmon and get chapter and verse about how those fish were born on the gravel spawning beds far up streams in the back country. And how they swam downriver to the Pacific Ocean and spent the next five or six years growing into adulthood and then returning to those same spawning beds in the same streams and repeating the cycle again.
Here in Massachusetts schools are preoccupied with the infamous MCAS exams and there's little time to learn about cod, the fish that played such a huge role in our New England history, let alone striped bass, the migratory species that provides so much enjoyment to local and visiting anglers alike. And that's a shame, because it's a loss of some of our children's heritage as well.
So it strikes me that what the fisheries folks are doing with those children out there at the Quabbin Reservoir is a very good thing and maybe the program will serve as a role model to other school systems to try some innovative activities in their regions. Teaching to the MCAS test might be a way to generate some flashy test scores but much of that information will sift out of those students' heads before they even put their pencils down. Hands-on activities involving the fisheries offers learning that will last a lifetime.
Speaking of the striped bass migration, the first advance scouts are just beginning to show up in Cape waters. Temperatures in Woods Hole at the NOAA buoy registered over 52 degrees the past week. It's up to 49 degrees at the buoy in Nantucket Sound and about the same in Buzzards Bay. All of which adds up to striper season kicking off now and getting better and better over the next few days. I see it's going to hit close to 80 degrees for air temperatures Sunday and that'll bring water temps up well over the Magic Fifty-Degree mark and that means the bass will be arriving and spreading out all over the Sound and then on up into Cape Cod Bay. So break out the gear, boys; it's striper time!
Speaking of kids and fishing, here's a photo of my grandson, Zachary Vovcsko, age 8. He and his mom and dad and sister live in Florida near the Gulf side and last week he and his dad took their canoe out in one of the local estuaries and Zach caught this 26 ½ inch redfish. That evening the fish was on the grill and a fine dinner was had by all.
April 06, 2012
by Jerry Vovcsko
Looking for the bad news? Well, nothing like finding out that scientists have reviewed all the numbers, crossed all the "t"s and dotted all the "I"s and…gotten it wrong yet again.
April 01, 2012
Rumors, I Hear Rumors
by Jerry Vovcsko
Although it's true this column is being written on that infamous April 1st date, let me start by saying there's not going to be any ‘April-Fool!' knee slapper at the end.
March 27, 2012
Trout and Baseball: Spring is Surely Here
by Jerry Vovcsko
What a crazy spring this has been so far. Two days ago it's pushing eighty degrees, people swimming off the beach at Nantasket and we're grumbling about already having to start mowing the lawn here in March.
March 20, 2012
Striped Bass, Bluefish and Wahoo, Too?
by Jerry Vovcsko
Looks like it's going to be a pretty good year for mackerel as these speedy little guys are showing up in a lot of the old places that have been semi-dormant for the past few seasons. Cape Cod Bay, for instance, has been seeing pods of mackerel zipping around close to shore recently.
March 12, 2012
The Times, They Are Changing
by Jerry Vovcsko
Well we didn't need our snow shovels this year as the winter's snow accumulation could virtually be stored away in two match boxes and an egg carton it seems. But don't get rid of those shovels just yet, at least not the old-fashioned metal ones.
March 07, 2012
Tripping the LIght Fantastic Through Scorton Creek Saltmarsh
by Jerry Vovcsko
Water temperatures have already crept into the low 40s in Vineyard Sound. That's mighty early for the mercury to hit those numbers. Typically we don't see the 40s until around the end of March or maybe even early April.
March 02, 2012
Division of Marine Fisheries Dangles $$$ Bait
by Jerry Vovcsko
As Alice was heard to say during her excursion through Wonderland, it just gets curiouser and curiouser! And that seems like as good a characterization of the $500 check from the Mass Division of Marine Fisheries that showed up in one angler's mailbox as any I can think of.
February 29, 2012
The "Word" From Paul Diodati
by Jerry Vovcsko
11:00 AM, 2/2912 Thought I'd pass along this memo from the state Division of Marine Fisheries that came in via email a few minutes ago…not too sure if I'm reassured by the hypothetical questions about selling back my salt water permit not being used to modify fees for these permits.
February 26, 2012
Bass and Whales and One Strange Winter
by Jerry Vovcsko
Still think there's nothing unusual about fishing conditions this winter? Well, think again. Down Chatham way there's a gent named Dave - his last name remains known only to the folks at Goose Hummock – who brings in striped bass to be weighed at the Orleans bait and tackle shop.
February 20, 2012
Dinosaurs in the Charles River?
by Jerry Vovcsko
In an earlier blog I wrote about the state trooper over in Norton, Mass. who last December accidently shot a woman out walking her dog in a semi-rural section of town. The fifty year old trooper, a twenty-year veteran of the force, said he saw the flash of her dog's tail, thought it was a deer and fired hitting the 66-year old Cheryl Blair in the hip near her abdomen with a deer slug.
February 15, 2012
Stripers in January
by Jerry Vovcsko
Well, sports fans, the Red Sox equipment truck left for Florida spring training just the other day. That annual event usually occurs in the dead of winter when we New Englanders are hip deep in snow and wondering if spring will ever show up. But not this year.
February 11, 2012
Bear Baiting and Other Hunting Ills
by Jerry Vovcsko
Those of us who have enjoyed the various CSI shows on TV likely relish the idea of the bad guys getting their comeuppance because some ace laboratory tech pinned their DNA to the scene of the crime and put them in the Big House for a good long stretch.
February 05, 2012
Super Bowl Sunday!
by Jerry Vovcsko
Super Bowl Sunday and it seems as though every possible bit of Super Bowl trivia has been kneaded, dissected, scrutinized and chewed to a fare-thee-well on the local sports talk shows, in the newspapers and in every sports bar, corner tavern and pizza shop between Boston and Hoboken.
January 31, 2012
Competition at the The Top of the Food Chain
by Jerry Vovcsko
Not long ago I wrote about the turmoil taking place in the Florida Everglades thanks to the introduction of pythons and anacondas into the environment.
January 30, 2012
Sportsman's Show in East Bridgewater
by Jerry Vovcsko
Just an FYI for an upcoming event here in East Bridgewater...the club puts on a nice feed, lots of exhibits and activities...worth a look for anyone in the vicinity.
January 29, 2012
Slow Boat to Spain
by Jerry Vovcsko
Some days you go fishing and it turns out they just aren't biting. Well, that's okay; it happens. But what you don't expect is to find yourself in the water, swimming for your life. That's just what happened to 58 year old Scott Douglas and his brother-in-law Rich St. Pierre back in August of 2008 on a fishing trip just off Nantucket aboard Dougla's 26-foot open console Regulator, Queen Bee.
January 23, 2012
Around the Cape and the Green Mountain State
by Jerry Vovcsko
It's hard to make sense out of the weather these days. Here it is the end of January and we finally got our first appreciable snow accumulation: four inches of light and fluffy stuff. And now a day later it's in the forties where it's supposed to remain over the next week or so.
January 16, 2012
Waiter, I'll Have the Sea Bass Special
by Jerry Vovcsko
You like to think that whenever you shell out big bucks for an expensive seafood dinner that at least you can be assured of getting the kind of fish that you ordered. Well, don't count on it; that's the conclusion reporters for a major New England newspaper came up with after looking into what goes on in the restaurant industry around the Boston area.
January 10, 2012
Speaking Up For an Often Neglected Species
by Jerry Vovcsko
The more I ponder it, the more convinced I am that we anglers pay far too much attention to a few, sexy species and overlook the ones that may seem a bit obscure or even insignificant. Well, by golly, I'm here to say that maybe we need to give some of those poor, ill-treated species another look!
Now you take the hoopa-juba fish as a prime example. Barely anyone mentions them when the conversation turns to what's-the-best-eating fish? And don't for a moment think their name is going to come up in a discussion about hardest-fighting-freshwater-gamefish. Nossiree, you won't hear much about the hoopa-juba and that's a darned shame, because they are special indeed and deserving of way more respect than we've given them so far.
First of all, you've got to find them. Not an easy trick because they live in the deepest kettle ponds on Cape Cod. Those ponds were formed during the last ice age and some say the hoopa-juba was carried in and deposited by the same glaciers that scoured out those ponds. They claim the fish had been frozen in the glaciers for a million years or so and when the glaciers melted the hoopa-jubas were dumped in there as well. According to that theory, being frozen in the dark for so long they weren't used to bright, clear water and headed straightaway for the deepest, coldest part of the pond and that's why you find them there, way down deep where the golden trout live. But that's just theory and as everyone knows, I only deal with hard and cold facts, so you'll have to decide for yourself about that.
Catching the hoopa-jubas calls for specialized technique. First thing is to find an old wooden skiff that you can row out to the middle of the pond - bring along a water-auger. When you get to the deepest part of the pond take your water-auger and drill a hole straight down to bottom. Then row back to shore, hide the skiff as well as yourself in some willow bushes and while you're in there cut a thumb-thick branch about three feet long and keep it nearby.
Next, begin making noises like a mudworm. Now some folks like to bring along a mudworm-call and I have heard you can buy them at Cabela's when they're in stock or you can make your own from a fresh-cut chokecherry limb. But I don't hold with using a mudworm-call…a capable hoopa-juba angler should be able to call them up using mouth-produced sounds alone…just takes a bit of practice.
Hoopa-jubas love the taste of mudworm beyond all other baits, and when they hear those sounds they'll swim right up the hole you bored with the water-auger and when they reach the top they'll roll up into a hoop (hence their name) and proceed to roll along the surface toward shore in a veritable mudworm-frenzy. When they pass where you're hiding in the bushes you stick that willow branch through the hoop and that's how you catch ‘em. Once you've got a willow stick full of hoopa-jubas, you carry them home, coat them in a cornmeal-and-mushcake-flour mix and fry them up in a big cast iron skillet with a dollop of lard or half a scoop of bear grease. Purely delicious, that's all I can say.
If more folks get out there after the hoopa-jubas maybe they'll begin to get some of the recognition and respect they deserve. I'm hoping that's the case and towards that end I've been meaning to talk with Captain Neil here in the Noreast forum about adding a specialized hoopa-juba rod to his line of custom beauties. But that's barely in the talking stage so for now it's best to bring along a Barlow folding knife and cut your own limber willow branch. Besides, that's the more traditional approach anyhow.
Below: Land-based distant cousin of the hoopa-juba
January 05, 2012
Stray Shot by Deer Hunter Sends Woman to Hospital
by Jerry Vovcsko
Just when you think it'll be okay to take the dogs for a walk, turns out it's not. Cheryl Blair, a 66-year old resident of Norton, Mass was walking her two dogs on a wooded path earlier this week when she heard a shot and felt something slam into her side. Blair had been hit by a shot from a 50-caliber black powder rifle fired by off-duty state trooper John Bergeron who was hunting deer on the last day of black powder firearms season.
December 30, 2011
Freshwater Action on Cape Cod Ponds And A Ferry Collision in the Sound
by Jerry Vovcsko
You would think that a two hundred thirty- five foot long ferry would be pretty easy to see and avoid colliding with at mid-afternoon on a clear day in Vineyard Sound, but a commercial fisherman skippering his thirty-six foot fishing boat Mirage out of Vineyard Haven managed to run smack into the side of the cargo ferry Katama near Woods Hole last week.
December 23, 2011
December Fishing Around the Cape
by Jerry Vovcsko
After a brief flirtation with the precursors of winter such as the below-freezing temperatures of last week, things are more back to normal right now as the outdoor thermometer reads a mild 50 degrees, and with light breezes to boot.
December 18, 2011
Lies, Damned Lies and...Statistical Studies
by Jerry Vovcsko
Back in 2008 NOAA scientists released a report that portrayed the Atlantic cod stocks as being in pretty darned good shape overall. Which pleased the commercial lads as they anticipated increased catch allotments based on the study. But, whoops, not so fast…a controversial new study commissioned by the Feds (New England Fishery Management Council) now says that the cod biomass in the Gulf of Maine has reversed itself completely and, Shazam!, the commercial cod fishery may need to be shut down to allow the depleted stocks to recover.
December 12, 2011
Calico Lobster on Display and Pickerel On the Cook Stove
by Jerry Vovcsko
The folks at Chatham Fish and Lobster Company decided to donate a rare calico lobster to the New England Aquarium in Boston. The calico is second only to the albino lobster when it comes to rarity and visitors to the Aquarium are in for a treat with the opportunity to gaze at one of these creatures.
December 05, 2011
The Snipatuit Pike Chronicles
by The Jerry Vovcsko
With water temperature in Vineyard Sound hovering one-degree plus or minus around the fifty-degree benchmark that seems to send striped bass packing, an old angler's thoughts turn to the next best thing: freshwater fishing. And not just any freshwater fishing…northern pike as the target species!
November 29, 2011
Deer Season Opens and The Freshwater Scene Stays Active
by Jerry Vovcsko
Deer season for shotgunners opened this past week and runs through December 10th. Primitive firearms season will kick off on December 12th and stay open through December 31st so Massachusetts hunters will have lots of opportunity to put some venison in the freezer.
November 26, 2011
The Dangerous Waters of New England
by Jerry Vovcsko
Conventional wisdom says the most dangerous waters for fishermen are the ones where Alaskan crab boats ply their trade. Right up there at the top of the "most dangerous" list would be the Bering Sea and television shows such as "The Deadliest Catch" reinforce that notion.
November 21, 2011
Fall Fading Out Around the Cape
by Jerry Vovcsko
There's some strange sort of symmetry, I suppose, in shifting from column to blog format here on Noreast.com just as the 2011 striped bass season fades into Mother Nature's archives. The end of the striper season; the start of the Noreast blog-a-sphere. Far out.