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.
Northerly winds notwithstanding, there's still saltwater action available; it just requires looking around for sheltered waters and none better than the estuaries, rivers and streams scattered end-to-end around the Cape. On the Nantucket Sound side the stretch of shoreline between Nobska Point and Menahaunt Beach, and eastward to the mouth of Bass River is a veritable estuary feast for striper seeking anglers. Great Pond in the Maravista section of Falmouth features an accessible launch ramp for anglers looking to put their boat in. Great Pond itself is worth exploring and the Coonamesset River empties into the northern end. There are many locals who believe the Coonammesset harbors a population of winter-over stripers and whether that's true or not stripers can be taken up inside the river well into the winter months.
Late in the season though it may be, bluefish are still showing up in Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound. It seems they stick around later and later now. Back in the seventies they were long gone by mid-October but it's not all that unusual these days to catch blues into November and last year a friend of mine pulled a five pound bluefish out of Eel Pond in Woods Hole a week into December so maybe the warming trend is creeping further north after all.
Bluefish activity has also been reported up around North Falmouth and school bass have been providing action around the mouth of West Falmouth Harbor. Tautog action continues hot and heavy in Buzzards Bay but anglers need to remember that sea bass season has closed as of the end of October and those tasty guys have to be released should they turn up on the end of a line.
On the far end of the Cape the striper action up around Race Point has died down lately and it's not yet clear if that's it for this year or if it's a temporary lull until the next slug of bass passes through. There have been occasional reports of school bass along the backside beaches with a couple of keepers pulled in near the storm-cut at Monomoy. In Cape Cod Bay things have slowed considerably although pods of striped bass blitzed Plymouth Harbor last week and may still show up there for a while yet.
But when all else fails our local ponds can be relied on to deliver plenty of action. Peters Pond in Sandwich is an excellent trout destination and such places as Sheeps, Long and Cliff ponds in Brewster are chock full of trout and may reward a lucky angler with salmon upwards of ten to fifteen pounds if the planets happen to be in alignment on a given day. PowerBait is a popular enticement but shiners and worms get plenty of play and jig&plastic combos take their share of fish. This time of year it's worth tossing lures along the edges of weed beds and weed lines in these ponds as pickerel become voracious the closer we get to ice-forming time. These toothy guys can provide real sport to anglers using light gear and the strike a pickerel delivers is impressive indeed.
And pay no attention to naysayers who proclaim: "Pickerel are too bony to eat."
Sure, they have some bones, but so what? Take a whole (gutted and scaled) three or four pound pickerel, wrap it in aluminum foil with a little mayonnaise (some prefer French dressing) and a sprinkle of dill. Slap that package on the grill and give it about 20 to thirty minutes over the coals. Open it up and take a fork to it because the flesh will practically fall off the bones and you can lift the skeleton right out.
How's that? Delicious, isn't it? Told you so…..
While we're at it, try the same grill method with a half dozen yellow perch because that's a fish that doesn't get nearly enough credit for being delicious table fare. Because perch are relatively small fish, folks with hungry-man appetites may want to add a slice of fresh tomato, a little lettuce and a tangy mayonnaise spread to the foil pouch (or Italian dressing instead of mayonnaise). Grill for 20 minutes and enjoy the results.
Well, the Red Sox won the World Series but it looks like "Benjamin Franklins" are probably going to be breaking up that old gang of mine. Yep, Ellsbury, Drew and Napoli are free agents now and they're going to be looking for a big payday so when the 2014 team heads south for spring training there may be different faces taking to the field. Still, we won't soon forget the Boys of Summer, circa 2013, and to them we say "Thanks, for a helluva season."
We'll be looking forward to the spring when the stripers and Red Sox baseball return to New England.