by Jerry Vovcsko
It seems 2016 might well be viewed as the Year of the Shark. We've had the great whites dining on whales and seals off Chatham; town beaches closed from Duxbury to Nantasket; threshers and makos cavorting in Cape Cod Bay and anglers catching brown sharks in numbers off Martha's Vineyard. And now the news arrives that a female Greenland shark living in the icy cold waters of the Arctic was the Earth's oldest living animal with a backbone. They estimated that the gray shark, part of the species named after Greenland, was born in the icy waters roughly 400 years ago, and died only recently which puts that species right at the top of the longevity list. And here I'm feeling ancient at a puny 79 years old.
Wildlife closer to home showed up near the doorstep of some startled city folk last week. A Quincy family had a bit of a scare when they spotted a timber rattlesnake outside their home Thursday evening, police said.
Around dusk, a resident of Grove Street called police about the snake, according to Quincy Police Captain John Dougan. Dougan said police called Massachusetts Environmental Police, who released the snake back into the Blue Hills Reservation, where the snakes can commonly be found. Dougan speculated that the snake may have been searching for water in the drought and ventured into the Quincy neighborhood.
Sharks and snakes: not very reassuring, I'd say. But how's the fishing here in mid-August? Let's have a look:
Anglers working the waters of the Cape Cod Canal have been doing alright with topwater lures in the morning hours. And local lads lobbing live eels at the west end near the Mass Maritime Academy managed to take a couple of thirty pound stripers as a result of their nocturnal efforts. And up around the Sandwich basin area at the east end of The Ditch occasional forays by mackerel have been providing excellent livelining opportunities for folks doing business between the jetty and the entrance to the harbor.
Plenty of school stripers in Buzzards Bay right now and there are lots of them congregated around The Knob outside Quissett Harbor. The sheltered nature of The Knob makes for quality fly fishing, especially around dusk when the prevailing southwest winds tend to lay down a bit.
Nantucket Sound is bluefish, bluefish, bluefish. Three and four-pound blues cruise around Nobska Point and larger blues – five pounds and up – can be found around the Martha's Vineyard shoreline. The Elizabeth Islands continue to offer up striped bass that may range from twenty-six inches to upwards of thirty pounds with the bigger bass generally taken down toward Quicks Hole and the Cuttyhunk area.
And speaking of the Elizabeth Islands. I have written extensively about that area. And with good reason as I consider it one of the most striper-productive areas in Cape Cod waters. But it does come with a caveat or two. The island chain runs from Woods Hole channel westerly to Sow and Pigs Reef at the far end of Cuttyhunk. It is strewn with rocks, boulders, ledges and all manner of excellent structure that returning striped bass are happy to call home. The trick for angling success is to cast into those rocks, boulder, etc., and get one's lure right up practically on the beach before starting the retrieve. The bass hang in there that close to shore.
Problem is, the stretch of shoreline is open to prevailing southwest winds and it's easy in the excitement of landing a fish to forget that somebody has to pay attention to keeping the boat off those rocks. Last week the Coast Guard was called out to rescue some fishermen who got a little careless and put their twenty-three foot center console onto the rocks along Nonamessett Island.
The Coasties sent a forty-five-foot response boat to the scene and considered sending a rescue swimmer in to shore to bring the stranded anglers out, one at a time. But brisk winds and choppy surf put the kibosh on that plan. Then an Aids to Navigation Team Woods Hole crew launched a 20-foot shallow-draft boat to assist.
The rescue swimmer brought the four to a cove a half mile north where they were picked up by the shallow-draft boat crew. A commercial craft pulled their boat back off the rocks later.
Moral of the story is: Very often the best fishing can be found in locations that may be pretty sketchy for boats so Pay Attention!