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. The 16-footer was tagged last September and had been tracked down to Florida until she began heading back north a month. Great white sharks, who live in almost all coastal and offshore waters which have water temperature between 54 ° F and 75 ° F, are being found in the northeast sooner every year, but January is the earliest yet. Local fishermen think the rapidly expanding seal colony near Chatham is luring more and more great whites into the region. Fishery scientists are investigating the extent to which rising ocean temperatures are a factor in the increasingly early arrivals of the sharks. Me, I'm just keeping my distance from the seals and, I hope, from the great whites as well.
No telling what the Cape fishing situation will look like next week as winter storm Nemo is forecast for this weekend and will likely drop a few inches of snow before it passes on through. Of course, that forecast has a few caveats attached and could fly right out the window if it turns out to feature less snow and more rain when it hits. Right now there's pretty good ice cover on local ponds because we've had several days of low temperatures and even lower windchill numbers as an icy northerly blew in from the Canadian Arctic.
Nevertheless, the fishing should remain productive on Cape ponds and lakes as the fish still have to eat, whatever the weather looks like. It's not a bad time right now to consider what's available in the many bodies of water that can be found on Cape Cod and around the surrounding area. Anglers who like to tangle with bass, be they large or smallmouth versions, can choose from places such as Lawrence Pond in Sandwich, Harwich's Long Pond or Hamblin Pond in Falmouth.
Trout seekers can do well at Cliff, Sheep and Nickerson State Park ponds over Brewster way. Cliff Pond also holds a large population of broodstock Atlantic salmon thanks to the restocking efforts of the folks at Mass Wildlife. Cliff might be a worthwhile destination for local Scuba divers to frolic in…for one thing its 88-foot depths allow divers to explore the water column for various species. Back in 1992 an angler pulled up a world record American eel. The creature weighed in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and stretched out to an impressive 46 inches long and 10.5 inches in girth. Dunno about anybody else but I'd be startled to run into one of those things in a freshwater pond; heck, that's conger eel-size!
There are plenty of candidates when it comes to panfish availability. Perch, both white and yellow can be found in Peters Pond up in Sandwich as well as Mashpee-Wakeby Pond on the Falmouth/Mashpee line. And there aren't too many local ponds that don't have a population of pickerel on hand. Barnstable's Wequaquet Lake holds northern pike that have tipped the scales at the twenty-lb level and just off Cape Snipatuit Pond in Rochester also harbors a population of the toothy northern even though the pond itself is less than ten feet deep for the most part.
So whatever impending winter storm Nemo drops on us this weekend, it looks like next week's temperatures will stay in the high thirties and low forties so chances are there will be shore access at local ponds even if the ice cover fades away as temperatures stay above the freeze level. But be cautious about venturing out on the ice. A Central Massachusetts father and son over in Grafton were doing figure-eights on a snowmobile when the father notice water bubbling up from an old fishing hole in the ice. He tried to veer away but broke through the ice and ended up in the frigid water. Luckily a couple who lived nearby phoned the police and the husband managed to crawl out on the ice, reach and pull the ten year old boy to safety. Emergency responders got a line to the father and both were rescued. The snowmobile ended up on the bottom.
Often it seems the hype exceeds what the Super Bowl actually delivers. Not this year. The 49ers and the Ravens put on quite a show and New Orleans even gave us a half-hour-plus power outage. Of course we New England fans were sad that our beloved Patriots didn't make it to the Big Easy this year but perhaps the 2014 edition of the Bowl will see the Pats back in town for another shot at the Lombardi trophy. In the meantime we'll have to look to the Red Sox for renewed hope. The equipment truck pulled out from Fenway Park yesterday and is on the way south for spring training; this could be our year.