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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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January 30, 2013

The Great Python Hunt and RIP A Local Legend

by Jerry Vovcsko

It always seemed as though the Florida Wildlife folks were going to try to do something about the burgeoning population of Burmese pythons in the Florida Everglades. And so they did. According to a blurb in the Boston Globe more than 1,000 people signed up recently to hunt Burmese pythons in the Everglades, but it appears that just a fraction of them have been successful so far.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said last week that thirty of the invasive snakes have been killed in the competition that began January 12th. The officials claim that eradicating pythons from the Everglades was never the goal of the month long ‘‘Python Challenge.'' Instead, they say they hoped to raise awareness about the snake's threat to native wildlife and the fragile Everglades ecosystem. Pythons face both state and federal bans and nobody really knows just how many of these snakes infest the Everglades, but researchers say the hunt is helping them collect more information about the pythons' habits.

Not sure which is potentially the biggest danger: That the Everglades harbor these big-time eating machines that can grow upwards of twenty feet, or that a thousand or so heavily armed good-‘ol-boys are wandering the swamps looking to blow them away; it just might be a tossup.

A couple of weeks ago the Cape unexpectedly lost one of its local legends. Dave Masch, fisherman, raconteur and blithe-spirit-emeritus suffered a massive heart attack and passed away at seventy-five. Dave's name should be familiar to many as a result of his contributions to "On the Water" magazine via his "Cooking the Catch" and "Ask Pops" columns. The longtime Falmouth and Woods Hole resident touched the lives of an awful lot of people during his lifetime.

He worked with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for 10 years and helped found the Penikese Island School, a boarding school for troubled juveniles where he was tagged with the "Pops nickname. I met Dave back in the seventies when I worked in the Falmouth School system and crossed paths with him at some of the alternative educational programs that had sprung up in Falmouth. He was, as they say, "bigger than life.""

He published his first "Cooking The Catch" recipe book in 2006 which sold surprisingly well for a local undertaking. In the book's introduction, he says, "I saw the ocean in 1955 and have not yet recovered from it." He had recently published "Cooking The Catch II" when the heart attack (he had previously survived two others) took his life. But sense of humor? It was pure Dave Masch when he kidded about another book he wanted to write…his working title was: "Having Fun With Your Grandkids With Fire and Explosives."

RIP, Dave, you touched many lives and we will miss you.

It's not Halloween right now but the fishing situation on Cape Cod is definitely a trick-or-treat proposition. Just when it look like a streak of single-digit temperatures has formed thick, solid ice on the local ponds, don't we find ourselves smack in the middle of fifty-degree spring-like weather. Yessir, classic New England weather…don't like what you've got? Wait a day and here comes the opposite.

Anyhow, the best bet right now is to spend some time checking out local ponds to see which of them have some shoreline access. On your life be careful of that ice crust; it's likely to be extremely unstable and a late January plunge into the water can be life-extinguishing. I've had some success in previous years finding a pond with open water between the shoreline and the edge of the ice field and casting bait or lure out onto the ice and slowly working it back until it drops off the edge into the water. Right then is when the strike is likely to come and you can see the line move sideways a little as a fish takes the bait.

It's an effective technique at times, especially with pickerel and bass. Mouse or frog artificials are probably the best lure choice…I suppose the fish may have seen critters fall from the ice shelf now and then. Rubber worms also draw some action and I like to play around by working them to the edge and letting them dangle partially over until they fall. Inevitably, strikes will come right after the splash. It's sort of the winter version of topwater action and will certainly sharpen an angler's concentration and test the reflexes when the bass are hitting.

Super Bowl Sunday coming up this weekend but us New England Patriot fans no longer have a dog in this hunt so it won't capture my interest quite as much. I've gotten a little tired of Ray Lewis's "celebration of Me" routine so I suppose I'll root for the 49'ers. And maybe in this year's college draft Bill Belichick will find that big, fast wide receiver the Pats haven't had since the days of Randy Moss so that when next year's Super Bowl rolls around, the Pats will be in it!

January 23, 2013

Sportsman's Show in East Bridgewater

by Jerry Vovcsko

Here's a local show worth checking out.

January 15, 2013

Bobcats In the Garage and Whales in Cape Cod Bay

by Jerry Vovcsko

The upcoming weather forecasts do not exactly lead us to believe a cornucopia of piscatorial plenty will soon be forthcoming. Nossir, declining temperatures with snow and freezing rain mixed in over the next couple of weeks murmur to us that pulling a kitchen chair a little closer to the old woodstove would be a smart move for these old bones.

But just because the fishing's not too promising right now, there's still plenty going on here in the New England region. Take the morning Roger Mundell Jr. experienced last week. He went out to his garage in the Central Massachusetts town of Brookfield to fetch some tie-down straps for a friend and next thing he heard was a hiss before a bobcat pounced on him sinking its teeth into his face and its claws in his back.

The critter then ran out of the garage and bit Mundell's 15-year-old nephew on the arms and back. Mundell jumped on the bobcat and with help from his wife managed to pin the cat to the ground and shoot it dead. State Environmental Police took the bobcat to have it tested for rabies, which they think is likely given its unusually aggressive behavior.

Mundell, along with his nephew and his wife began treatment for rabies. Although his wife wasn't bitten, the animal's blood got on her. Local newspapers reported that state lab results on the dead animal were announced at a subsequent selectman's board meeting in Brookfield confirming that the animal did indeed have rabies. Folks who have undergone a series of rabies shots say the treatment is painful but the disease in far worse and the Mundells are expected to make full recoveries.

Meanwhile, the first official whale sighting of 2013 on Cape Cod Bay was confirmed by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) this past Saturday as a right whale mother and her calf was spotted off Plymouth. According to PCCS, a research organization that has been conducting aerial surveys for right whales since 1997, this is the earliest a right whale has been spotted in Cape Cod Bay.

Scientists believe most right whale calves are usually born in December and January in southern waters off Georgia and Florida. The mother and child pairs then head north to the Cape Cod region to feed in early April. The good news is that New England Aquarium researchers have confirmed the identity of the mother. Wart--as she is known--was last seen in May 2010. The Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team at PCCS had succeeded in freeing Wart from an entanglement.

As she had not been seen since 2010, researchers had been very worried about Wart but spotting her in the Bay is exciting news for the population. With only 500 North Atlantic right whales left, the survival the reproduction potential of mature females is particularly critical to conservation efforts said a PCCS official.

NFL fans know the Houston Texans came to town last Sunday…and four hours later headed out of town (and the playoffs), having lost to the Patriots 41-28 in a game that wasn't really that close. Unfortunately the win cost the Pats the services of All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski; the Big Guy re-broke his arm and is lost to the Pats for the rest of the season.

Next Sunday the Baltimore Ravens will be coming to Foxboro led by their aging-but-still-vocal linebacker Ray Lewis who's been conducting a loud Celebration-of-Me in preparation for retirement. The Patriots will undoubtedly do whatever they can to assist Mr. Lewis into an early retirement on their way to yet another Super Bowl appearance. Need we say it? Go Pats!

January 08, 2013

What's That Fish Worth?

by Jerry Vovcsko

I don't know if a fish can feel "like a million dollars", but there's one recently-deceased Pacific bluefin tuna that absolutely should.
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