by Jerry Vovcsko
We're in that hazy part of the season where rumors abound, fish are scarce and anglers strain at the bit, anxious to wet a line and tangle with newly arrived striped bass. But that ain't happening just yet, Bubba, not with water temperatures still hovering in the mid to high forties. Soon, though…once the water temperatures touch fifty, they'll be showing up around here.
That's not to say there aren't any stripers to be had in Cape waters. Waquoit Bay typically sprouts a population of holdover striped bass and some of the south facing estuaries are worth a look, especially where shallow, mud-bottomed areas warm rapidly on sunny days. The Coonemessett River in Great Pond is one of those and Waller's Island marsh area inside the Green Pond estuary in East Falmouth is another. Easing around those spots in kayak, canoe or skiff and flipping a soft jig-and-plastic rig toward those shallows can be surprisingly productive even during these early season days.
The likeliest spot for newly arriving spring stripers is the stretch of south-facing beach running between Bass River in the east and the Waquoit jetty at the western end. That includes South Cape Beach, Succonesset and Poponnesset beaches and curves in a gentle bowl-shaped arc that slopes away from the beach and warms up quicker than about anywhere else between Woods Hole and Chatham. A little later in the season a similar beach configuration down Chatham way and known locally as "The Bathtub" offers local anglers a hefty population of short-sized stripers. The long-wand crowd delights in catch-and-release activity from early May until water temperatures climb into the mid-to-high sixties. These are all fine ways to get a jump on the season before the main body of migrants show up from points south.
For years I have inaugurated bass-fishing efforts by working the Poponnesset stretch of beach for stripers and then along about mid-May planting myself out a little ways from the Waquoit jetty and then casting a blackback Rebel in a "slot" out toward the can buoy a couple hundred yards southeasterly from the eastern tip of the jetty. After about a dozen casts I begin to think "any time now" and damned if I don't usually come up with my first-of-the-season bluefish right there in just that spot.
Now why that is, I have no idea…but after some thirty years of that same silly ritual, I don't question it. I just do it. I figure fishermen don't necessarily have to be the brightest bulbs, just the most tenacious.
Somebody once said: "Don't get old, you'll live to regret it." Well, looks like I've got a date with the surgeon coming up pretty soon. I'll tell you about it in the next column. Maybe I'll ask the fella if he can show me how to tie a "surgeon's knot"…you'd think he ought to be pretty slick with such things, wouldn't you?