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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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November 26, 2014

Turkey Time in New England

by Jerry Vovcsko

Looks like Thanksgiving Day in southeastern Massachusetts is going to bring a bit of snow with it. We'll be settling down at the dining room table ready to work out on old Tom Turkey and watching the white stuff come fluttering down outside. That's okay, though…at least we're not expecting anything like the SIX FEET of snow that buried them in Buffalo last week. If the "lake effect" dropped six feet of snow out in western New York, imagine what a full-blown "ocean effect" could deliver here on Cape Cod.

Orleans District Court was the setting for a you-don't-see-this-too-often courtroom drama for two alleged incidents that resulted in a man being banned from all Wellfleet beaches. Fifty-one-year-old William Vannoy, of Fairfield, Connecticut, was arraigned on charges of assault and battery on a staff member at one local beach and destruction of property over $250 at another.

According to court documents, Vannoy was driving along Ocean View Drive in Wellfleet back in August and swerved to avoid hitting another vehicle that was passing a cyclist. Vannoy allegedly reversed direction and followed the other man's car into the Wellfleet Beachcomber parking lot at Cahoon Hollow. That man told police he noticed Vannoy next to his car. Vannoy allegedly ran down the dunes to the beach when confronted, and police found four puncture holes in a tire.

In his report Wellfleet police Sgt. Michael Turner said Vannoy was homeless and slept in his Jeep. A week later Lt. Michael Hurley responded to White Crest Beach in Wellfleet for a report that Vannoy had been harassing beach staff members. In his report, Hurley said lifeguard Jody Craven told him that Vannoy appeared intoxicated and seemed to be passed out on the sand. After staff members approached him to check on his well-being, he allegedly became angry and confrontational and shoved one of them off the back of his pickup truck.
That lifeguard filed assault charges against Vannoy, whose blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit, according to results from a breath test administered by police. Vannoy was subsequently banned from all Wellfleet town beaches, ponds and parking lots. He is due back in court in mid-December.

A sea turtle weighing close to 300 pounds washed up on an Eastham beach Thursday, the largest discovered in Massachusetts waters this century, said Bob Prescott, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.The 279-pound adult loggerhead turtle was among hundreds of sea turtles that washed up along the Cape Cod shoreline in the past few weeks, Prescott said.

Bitter chill, harsh winds and choppy waves kept Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary volunteers and naturalists from Dennis to Truro on Cape Cod Bay exceptionally busy. Starting the weekend 17 Kemp's Ridley turtles, stunned by the cold, were plucked from the shore. On Sunday, another 28 endangered sea turtles were rescued by the same folks. Sunday's rescue of 28 sea turtles is the highest for a single day since 1999, according to a New England Aquarium release.

All 45 sea turtles were then transported to New England Aquarium's sea turtle hospital in Quincy. The hospital, a rehab for endangered sea turtles, will have trained staff slowly warming the cold-stunned turtles by raising their body temperatures from 50-odd degrees to where it should be around 70 degrees. Once their body temperatures are regulated and they are treated for hypothermia, malnutrition and another other ailments, the turtles will be transferred to the south and released in warmer waters off Georgia or Florida.

In an odd way, according to the aquarium, stranding is a sea turtle's only real chance at survival once they are trapped in the unforgiving November waters of Cape Cod Bay. Once their body temperatures hit the low 50s, they no longer have the ability to navigate out and around the long arm of the Cape that protects the bay. Water temperatures plunged early this year and to date more than fifty Kemp's Ridley sea turtles -the most endangered sea turtle in the world - have been shipped south to balmy Florida waters.

Water temperatures in Nantucket Sound have slipped below the fifty-degree mark and that's a little too cold for comfort where striped bass are concerned. That's not to say that they're not still around – there'll be stripers lurking in Cape waters right through the winter months…but last spring's immigrants will have mostly departed these waters by now and the ones left here won't be easy to find.

The Cape Cod Canal probably hosts a few bass still hanging around, looking for a meal of stray mackerel or herring but they'll be lethargic and tough to coax into hitting artificial lures. Best chance for a Canal striper these days would be on an east-running tide. Water from Buzzards Bay is a good deal warmer than pours in from Cape Cod Bay so it's probably best for anglers to try their luck in those relatively tepid currents. Chances are, though, those wandering currents of the Gulf Stream, the ones that brought us such semi-tropical species as jack crevalle, cobia, banded rudderfish, mahi mahi and red drum, are long gone now and we won't see their like again until the 2015 season. They were fun while they lasted.

Bluefish are gone now as are the funny fish – bonnies and albies – but in their place an angler's thoughts turn to the freshwater action and that's been pretty good so far. Trout fishing, especially rainbows, continues to provide plenty of action Peter's Pond in Sandwich, Sheeps and Cliff ponds down Brewster way and Mashpee/Wakeby on the Falmouth/Mashpee border.

The usual baits – worms, shiners, salmon eggs have all been effective – but artificials are taking their share as well and the worm/spinner combo has picked up some big rainbows in the deep ponds. If things slow down in the trout world, there's always a chance to coax a big pickerel from weed beds in most of the Cape Ponds – toss a shiner near the edge of the weeds and stand by. Or folks working from kayak or canoe can troll a red-and-white dardevle spoon along the edge of the weeds. It's an exciting prospect to feel a kayak momentarily stopped dead by a smashing hit from a big chain pickerel erupting from a weedy ambush site – even better if there are northern pike in residence.

I guess I should say a word or two about my New England Patriots. From the disappointing performances they showed us against Kansas City and Miami, they've come a long way and if that 9-2 record should prove to be a springboard into homefield advantage for the playoffs, well…it could mean another Super Bowl appearance for Belichick, Brady and Company. Go Pats!

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