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Jerry Vovcsko

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.

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July 14, 2013

Declaring War on the Man-O-War and Other Odd Notions

by Jerry Vovcsko


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. About a dozen were picked from the beach by clean-up crews but two lifeguards patrolling the beach were stung and taken to the hospital for treatment.

Back in the seventies a tourist swam into the clump of tentacles streaming below a man-o-war and writhed in pain after making it back to shore. The Falmouth fire department EMTs arrived on the scene and sprinkled a generous amount of Adolph's Meat tenderizer on the welts which near-magically alleviated the pain and redness caused by the stings. Apparently the enzymes in the tenderizer neutralize the chemicals that cause severe pain so it might be worthwhile to keep a bottle of the stuff handy in areas where these wandering creatures abound.


They say that New England sports fans can be rabid in support of their teams. Like the time a Boston Celtics a drunken fan came boiling out of the stands and punched referee Richie Powers in the face because of a call that went against the home team. But that's small potatoes compared to the carnage resulting from a ref's decision at an amateur soccer match in Maranhoa, Brazil. The chronology around the events is still somewhat cloudy but apparently referee Otavio Jordao da Silva objected to footballer Josenir dos Santos' complaints about a call the referee made and stabbed the player, killing him. This did not sit well with dos Santos' friends and teammates and in retaliation they set upon the ref, tied him up, stoned him to death, quartered him and set his head on a stake in the middle of the soccer pitch. One man has been arrested and police are searching for two more suspects. Prosecutor Vater Costa, in a masterpiece of legal-speak, said: "Actions like this do not collaborate with the legality of state law." (Parse that one, folks.)


A kayaker and two paddle boaters were injured over the Fourth of July weekend when they were struck by a motorboat allegedly driven by an intoxicated man in Kingston, police said. Emergency personnel responded to Smelt Pond just before 5:30 p.m. and determined the motorboat, driven by thirty-seven year old Floridian Joseph Carroll struck and capsized a kayak and a two-person paddle boat and barely missed striking a canoe, said a Kingston Police official. State environmental police arrested Carroll and charged him with driving a boat under the influence of alcohol, causing serious injury and unsafe operation of a boat. The forty-one-year-old man in the kayak suffered a non-life-threatening but serious head injury, and the two women in the paddle boat suffered minor injuries. Carroll was arraigned in Plymouth District Court and released on bail. It's a very scary proposition when one of these speed-cowboys ships aboard excess wet goods and morphs into the marine version of Evel Kneivel.


Vineyard Sound continues to produce a mix of bass and blues from Woods Hole to Chatham. The blues tend to school up according to size and catching a five pound blue a little ways out from Waquoit Bay is a pretty good indicator that more of them are around and they will be in that four to five pound size range. The Cape Cod Canal has been very productive with early morning topwater striper action around the slack tides. There are some serious Large in the Ditch right now and some fish pushing the forty pound marker on the scales were taken recently near the spot known to locals as The Jungle.

From the east end of the Canal over toward the Manomet cliffs, folks employing the classic tube ‘n worm method have been scoring consistently. There's been good striper action on ebb tides around the mouth of Scorton Creek and also off the mouth of Old Sandwich Harbor with surf casters working swimming plugs in the current as well as those drifting chunk baits on the outgoing tide. Fresh mackerel seems to have the most appeal to stripers hanging around the baitfish buffet. Smaller plugs have been more productive and produce best when worked diagonally across the current. Kayakers following the flood tide up into the Scorton Creek salt marsh have also done well on keeper size stripers using jig and plastic combinations – five inch plastics have proved effective.

Fluke, scup and back sea bass populate the wreck of the old James Longstreet target shop and bottom fishing angers have done very well there. Cape Cod Bay doesn't seem quite the same since the Coast Guard blew up the old ship but the fish population that took up residence in the dynamited hull of the old target vessel certainly appreciates the fishy underwater condominiums provided by the remaining wreckage. Bluefish move around all over the Bay and there have been some pretty good sized ones taken along the edge of the Brewster Flats on ebbing tides. The blues will hits just about anything thrown their way so some folks bend down their barbs on those old beater plugs and use them when the blues show up.

The outside beaches have some lunker bass in residence these days and they are best fished by tossing plastic baits (or live eels) around the sand bars that are shaped by breaking surf in close to shore. Not a bad idea to visit these spots during the day at low tide and get a sense of here to work an eel later on when the flood tide covers things up. This can produce some serious Large during the night time or pre-dawn hours when the really big bass are lurking in behind the sand bars waiting for baitfish to swim past. Race Point has been the scene of periodic striper blitzes over the last week or so and late afternoon to dusk seems to be the likeliest time to hit one of those blitzes.

There's been recent striper action around Noman's Island below the southwest corner of Martha's Vineyard with some bass in the 20 to 30 pound size range taken there. These are open waters and the weather can turn quickly so small boats need alert skippers in order to stay safe. Rock ledges and big boulders provide excellent striper habitat but can damage a hull especially if heavy surf is rolling in. Noman's is not a location to go ashore on…over the years the Navy used it for bombing and strafing practice and live ordinance can still be encountered lying around; best to stay clear.

The Patriots' Aaron Hernandez remains in jail as the investigation continues into the murder of one of his associates. And now it appears Pats' defensive back Alfonso Dennard may have his probation revoked because of a possible DUI arrest. Training camp needs to get going soon or the Patriots' roster is going to be seriously depleted the way things are going. Head coach Bill Belichick better make sure he's replenished his Excedrin supply and the season hasn't even begun.

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