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. A few days later a pilot for Cape Cod Shark Hunters spotted six great whites from the air near the newly formed inlet along the Monomoy Islands that appeared after one of last winter's storms. So it looks Chatham's T-shirt merchants will be receiving their own sharky stimulus boost as the ersatz versions of Jaws continue to show up in and around the live seal buffet that inhabits these Chatham beaches.
Some of the best striper action took place last week in the Cape Cod Canal with a forty-six pound beauty and additional plus-forty fish taken on jigs, eels and big plastics during the night tides for anglers working from the rocks lining the Big Ditch. And out in Cape Cod Bay business was brisk at Billingsgate Shoals with a reported catch & release of a plus-fifty-two inch bass taken from the slot on a tube ‘n worm rig.
Meanwhile the fishing on the south side of the Cape has been as bit lethargic lately as water temperatures climb into the seventies and the stripers head for deeper, cooler waters or simply appear to go on hunger strikes. Now is when the real anglers emerge from the pack and continue to catch fish while the feather merchants and Johnny-come-lately's bitch and moan about the scarcity of stripers nowadays. The commercial pinhook striper season has been open since July 14th and those folks have been catching bass at a lively clip using some traditional methods including live-lining scup or snapper blues down where the big fish dwell. With a thirty-four inch minimum requirement, the commercials have to find and catch the Large or they don't make any money. The Elizabeth Islands are probably as well populated with striped bass as anywhere in Cape waters with Chatham and Monomoy running a close second.
Although the action slows a bit this time of the season, the real doldrums are due to start in another week or two. Bluefish love the warm temperatures and soon the funny fish – bonito, false albacore, Spanish mackerel and so forth – will make their appearance…in fact, a couple of Mahi Mahi were caught recently on a charter trip.
So there will be action continuing even while the stripers wait semi-dormant for water temperatures to drop a bit. Fluke are coming into their own in several locations, including the Middleground, Lucas Shoals and Hen & Chickens reef. Scup can be found around the Woods Hole area with some of the larger ones lurking around Lackey's Bay –no better light tackle targets, especially for those folks taking kids out to fish.
There's a good mix of bass and blues in those rips behind Nantucket – Old Man's and Siasconset – and Great Point rip rarely disappoints lately. The Vineyard teems with bluefish and stripers can be found on the south side with Devil's Bridge holding good sized bass on the western side and those deep holes west of the Middleground producing big bass no and again. The Parachute jig was reputed to have been developed by a gent trying to get a lure down to bass hanging out in these holes.
And on July 18th I celebrated my 75th birthday in the backyard with grandchildren running around squirting each other with water guns and grownups relishing the grill talents of my Louisiana-based son-in-law who dished up awesome chicken and fish offerings to positively make the mouth water. Seems strange to consider that I've been around now for three quarters of a century; you'd think I'd have earned something after a that time but most of the time I feel clueless about what's going on with our world and I can't say I'm thrilled about what we've left our grandchildren to contend with when they reach adulthood. But, unlike the golf course, there are no Mulligans in life. It's one time through and that's all we get…maybe the kids can figure out what to do about the mess we seem to have left them with. Here's hoping anyway.