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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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March 31, 2015

Pond Stocking Trucks Roll Soon

by Jerry Vovcsko

The Boston Globe published an interesting article last week on overfishing by nations around the world. Here's the link:

the back-and-forth between commercial and recreational fishermen over dwindling stocks we sometimes forget just how dangerous an occupation the commercial fisherman is engaged in. There was another reminder this week when the Coast Guard located the body of a 54-year-old man who went overboard from a scalloping vessel off Nantucket this past weekend.

A helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod spotted the body in the water at 1 a.m. yesterday about 37 miles southeast of Nantucket, Coast Guard Petty Officer Myeonghi Clegg said. The man had been on the 85-foot vessel Hear No Evil out of New Bedford when he was reported missing and believed to have fallen over board at 8:30 p.m.

The crew from Hear No Evil was able to recover the body and make a positive identification before the body was transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Hammerhead and brought ashore. Weather conditions were good at the time of the man's disappearance, with clear skies and seas of two feet, Clegg said.

Speaking of rescue efforts, the Coast Guard rescued nine men from a Canadian tall ship off the coast of Gloucester after the vessel became disabled in rough waters Monday morning. Crew members on Liana's Ransom reported the ship's engines were out of commission and its sails were wrapped around the mast about 60 miles east of Gloucester around 12:35 a.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

As weather conditions worsened and seas reached nearly 10 feet, the Coast Guard sent two motor lifeboats to tow the ship into Gloucester. While the ship was able to connect to the tow lines, rough sea conditions broke them. Crew members were forced to jump from the ship to the lifeboats instead with one man injuring his head in the process. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital by a Coast Guard helicopter. No question but that these young guardsmen and women take seriously their motto: Semper paratus (Always ready.)

Mass Environmental Dep't has this to say about its spring 2015 pond stocking activities:
Close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout will be stocked this spring from MassWildlife's five hatcheries located in Sandwich, Palmer, Belchertown, Sunderland, and Montague. It has been a challenging year for the hatcheries this year given the extremely cold, icy, and snowy conditions that have prevailed this winter. Nevertheless, the close to 500,000 fish being stocked this spring, coupled with the more than 67,000 12+ inch trout stocked last fall should provide some excellent fishing in the coming months. Due to the heavy snow and thick ice that remains on lakes and ponds across the state, trout stocking likely will not begin until the last week of March or the first week in April, beginning with the eastern region of the state moving westward as the ice and snow melts.

Those efforts will likely start sometime this week when the trucks roll out of those hatcheries heading for the southeastern sector which, of course, includes the Cape. To date most of the freshwater fishing activity has been targeting bass and pickerel when it was even possible to access the usual locations. But the sun's been shining recently, air temperatures are due to reach sixty by the end of this week and once those trout are spilled into local ponds, anglers will be heading for open water areas.

Those ponds that receive plenty of sun will quickly lose their ice cover as melt-out accelerates. Sheeps and Long ponds in Brewster will see plenty of action once the trucks arrive, as will Peters Pond in Sandwich, Mashpee-Wakeby on the Falmouth/Mashpee line along with Long Pond in Plymouth on the mainland. Trout fishing becomes a bonanza until the newly stocked trout turn wily in their wild environment and local anglers will be out in force to capitalize.

Still not much happening on the salt water scene as water temperatures remain well on the chilly side. I noticed the other day that water temps in Nantucket Sound have been running at a steady thirty-six degrees for the past couple of weeks. Typically at this time of year the water temp is creeping up on the low forties and I'm wondering if the arrival of the first stripers is going to be set back this season. It's something to keep an eye on.


March 24, 2015

Cape Pond-stocking Update

by Jerry Vovcsko

Trout Stocking Schedule - Southeast District.

Due to the heavy snow and thick ice that remains on lakes and ponds across the state, trout stocking likely will not begin until the last week of March or the first week in April, beginning with the eastern region of the state moving westward as the ice and snow melts.

Trout Stocked Waters - Southeast District.


Acushnet River


Bungay River


Hathaway Pond, Shubael Pond, Lovell's Pond, Hamblin Pond


Cliff Pond, Flax Pond, Sheep Pond, Higgins Pond, Little Cliff Pond

Sturtevants Mill Pond, Skeeter Mill Pond

Goose Pond, Schoolhouse Pond

Shingle Island River

Scargo Lake

Segregansett River

Herring Pond

Beaver Brook

Ashumet Pond, Coonamesset River, Mares Pond, Grews Pond, Deep Pond

Rattlesnake Brook, Ledge Pond

Third Herring Brook, Indian Head River

Shumatuscacant River, Indian Head River

Plymouth River, Weir River

Jones River, Soules Pond (Furnace Brook)

Wading River, Canoe River

South River

Johns Pond, Mashpee-Wakeby Pond, Ashumet Pond

Mattapoisett River

Falls Pond (Southern Basin), Whiting Pond

Second Herring Brook

Herring Brook, Indian Head River

Beaver Dam Brook, Long Pond, Town Brook, Little Pond, Eel River, Fearings Pond, Russell Pond, Sawmill Pond, Big Sandy Pond, Fresh Pond, Lout Pond

Winnetuxet River

Upper Lagoon Pond

Crystal Lake, Baker Pond

Johnson Pond

Palmer River

Doggetts Brook, Mary's Pond

Spectacle Pond, Peters Pond, Scorton Creek, Hoxie Pond, Pimlico Pond, Mashpee-Wakeby Pond

Bound Brook, Tack Factory Pond

Burrs Pond, Old Grist Mill Pond

Coles Brook, Lewin Brook Pond (Swansea Dam)

Segregansett River

Great Pond, Pamet River

Agawam River

Gull Pond

Old Mill Pond, Seth's Pond, Duarte Pond

Long Pond

March 15, 2015

Ice Floe Skiing and Weird-Creature Fossils

by Jerry Vovcsko

"IUU (Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated) fishing is a worldwide problem. It occurs when fishers break the rules, when they do not report their catches accurately, or when they undermine international measures that are in place to conserve our shared fisheries resources. Law-abiding fishers lose billions of dollars each year due to these activities."

That's an excerpt from a pretty good article in the Boston Globe about illegal fishing worldwide.

Here's the link:

temperatures of forty to upwards of fifty degrees have begun breaking up some of that salt water ice we've seen accumulate this year from Cape Cod Bay to Nantucket Sound. Some of those chunks of ice are massive in size and they're clogging the Cape Cod Canal, riding the currents in Vineyard Sound and bashing into each other in Wellfleet Harbor.

But not everyone views their presence as a negative.
Brian Grubb, 34-year-old professional wakeskater — an extreme sport likened to skateboarding on water - found a way to do more than just stare at the ice chunks floating around Wellfleet Harbor. He decided to ride them, proceeding to gear up and employ the large pieces of ice floating in Cape Cod bay as makeshift ramps, hitting them at high speeds as he was pulled along by a boat, performing tricks.

"It was super fun," he said. "It was a bit of a last-minute type of trip, but it was killer, and there was good weather."

Grubb said he has never seen anything like the five-foot-tall ice wedges that have attracted people from all over the state to Wellfleet's inner beaches. Drawing a pretty good crowd along the beach, he spent nearly five hours riding around, flying off car-sized ice slabs that launched him into the air. Managing to safely maneuver through a graveyard of frozen water, Grubb called the once-in-a-lifetime experience a success. But I couldn't help wondering just who was driving that boat and zooming along at high speed among those ice chunks - how do you suppose that felt?

Salt water ice can be really tricky stuff and tidal currents compound its basic instability. It's not unusual for police and firemen to be called out to rescue people and pets who have fallen through into icy waters. But Wareham firefighters recently m ended up having to employ a hovercraft and other specialized equipment to rescue ten deer that had fallen through the ice at Long Beach Point last weekend.

Firefighters donned survival suits and rode hovercraft from the Onset and Middleboro Fire Departments to rescue several of the animals with most of the deer pulled from the water appearing to be alive. Massachusetts Environmental Police and Wareham police officers also responded to the scene Sunday afternoon.

There are some truly strange-looking creatures inhabiting our oceans, some of which we've never even seen as they inhabit the deep in such places as the near-seven mile depths of the Mariannas Trench. But bizarre as today's marine creatures may seem, they don't hold a candle compared to what used to swim, glide or slither beneath the oceans of our evolving planet. Like, for instance, a giant sea creature with flaps instead of fins, a segmented body like a lobster, a helmet-like head, and a bizarre set of spiny front appendages that make it the newest addition to the weird pantheon of animals that once prowled prehistoric oceans.

According to a piece in the science journal Nature, the new species, discovered in Morocco by a team of Yale University paleontologists, looks more like an alien than an ancestor to life as we know it -- almost as if a child put a jigsaw puzzle together incorrectly. But it is a new species of anomalocaridid (literally, "weird shrimp") and sits on a quirky ancestral side branch of the family tree of arthropods -- the animal group with the most living species on earth today, consisting of crabs, butterflies, scorpions, and ants.

"The number of complete anomalocaridids can be counted on less than two hands even though people spend thousands of hours in the field or millions of hours in the field," said Jakob Vinther, a lecturer on macroevolution at the University of Bristol who was not involved in the research. "They are extremely unique fossils and really, really fascinating."

According to the article, the new fossil find supports a growing body of evidence that is transforming thinking about anomalocaridids, creatures previously thought of as the T. Rex of their time -- lethal killers that chomped on smaller arthropods called trilobites. The newly discovered species was twice as big as any anomalocaridid previously unearthed, but it was a gentle giant, not an apex predator. It strained out plankton instead of hunting prey, similar to some very large present-day whales, sharks, and rays.

It also was unearthed at a shale deposit in the Sahara Desert that dates back to around 480 million years ago, showing that these bizarre creatures stuck around far longer than initially thought. They are among a group of animals first discovered in a much older Canadian shale deposit that the late Harvard biologist Stephen J. Gould called a source of "weird wonders."

"It's actively swimming through the water, and as it swims, it sieves this plankton out of the water and feeds upon it," said Peter Van Roy, a Yale paleontologist who led the research. "It is a very big animal. One of the biggest arthropods to live, bigger than any arthropod living today."

In 2002, Van Roy began working in the Fezouata Biota in Morocco. It preserved a snapshot of the Earth that would have looked quite different. The land was largely clumped together in the southern hemisphere, in a "supercontinent" called Gondwana back when the oceans would have been interconnected. The new species is the biggest known animal. Van Roy said the species, Aegirocassis benmoulae, is named for its appearance and its discoverer. Aegir is a giant and a Norse god of the sea, while cassis is the Latin word for helmet -- a reference to the three-part shield structure around the animal's head. The second part of the name is for Mohamed Ben Moula, a collector who discovered the fossil.

The anomalocaridid looks distinctly unearthly. It would have had a hard exoskeleton and its head carapace was made up of a three-part shield. It had two appendages in front of its mouth that have spines that extend downward, creating a kind of net to catch plankton and sweep the food into its circular mouth. Its body is segmented like other arthropods, and each segment is outfitted with a pair of upper and lower flaps. The lower flaps would have been a twist on legs, used for swimming. The upper flaps would have been used in respiration, the researchers believe.

"We didn't know these animals had two sets of flaps because all the fossils we had were all so flattened," Greg Edgecombe, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, wrote in an e-mail. Now, the scientists can see that the primitive arthropods had two flaps. Their eyes resemble the compound eyes of a fly, scientists say and the flaps would have fused together to give rise to the leg of a centipede. They would have stayed separate to produce the gills and leg of a crab.

Scientists may be feeling euphoric as they proceed to assemble new theories about who and what swam in the prehistoric oceans that encircled the planet, but us lay persons gaze at a creature like this and figure it must have been assembled by a drunken creator who shoved all the leftover parts into a gunnysack and shook it until something weird fell out, got up and swam away. At least that's my take on it.

And finally there's a chance to do a little fishing locally. Some of the Cape Cod ponds are becoming accessible now from shore. The fishy inhabitants will have experienced little or no fishing pressure since late January and are going to be pretty hungry these days. PowerBaits, shiner, worms, shiny spinner baits and plastic combos should do yeoman work on bass, pickerel, trout and the occasional salmon. Peters Pond, the Brewster ponds, Mashpee-Wakeby on the Falmouth/Mashpee line are prime early season locations. Once the ice chunks have cleared out of the CC Canal, the Ditch will be worth an early season visit. No telling what's likely to be happening in the salt as this brutal winter has pretty much scrambled existing patterns and local anglers will have to figure out fishing conditions on a day-to-day basis.

March 08, 2015

Turtle Rescues, Calico Lobster and Digital Condoms

by Jerry Vovcsko

High winds; low temperatures, not much action to speak of. Sounds a little like Dean Smith's 4-corner offense that the Tarheels used to kill time and frustrate opponents. And there's plenty of frustration to be had around these parts because there's darned little fishing activity available and Cape anglers are pretty much stuck with killing time until these Alaskan-style snow accumulations melt away and make room for the arrival of spring.

While cold winds and massive snow drifts hinder efforts to wet a line locally, those arctic-like temperatures stood a good chance of killing a number of Kemp's Ridley turtles when the creatures got trapped in Cape Cod Bay by plunging water temperatures. Volunteers saved a fair number of stranded animals, marine biologists from local aquariums helped rehabilitate them and this past week seventeen Kemp's Ridley turtles departed New England's deep-freeze conditions in a heated van from the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay heading for a beach in Florida from where they would be released.. After four months of rehabilitation, these sea turtles were ready to return to the ocean.

"They are so ready," said marine life center volunteer Jane Fernandes, who drove for more than 24 hours in the van with staffer Margo Madden and three other volunteers. A record number of sea turtles - over 1,200 - washed ashore on Cape Cod Bay beaches from Barnstable to Provincetown between November and the end of December. The vast majority were Kemp's Ridleys, one of the most endangered sea turtle species in the world.

Plunging water temperatures in the fall shut down their metabolism and left them floating at sea, at the mercy of the winter wind that blew them onto the beach where they were rescued by volunteer turtle patrols. After four months of being fed herring and squid, along with medicine and vitamins, the turtles were ready to head for warmer climes and traveled south in the van which had to be kept at 70 to 75 degrees.

Surprise was the order of the day when a rare calico lobster showed up at the Wellfleet Shellfish Company facility in Eastham earlier this week.
"It's a pretty exquisite lobster," said David Lancaster, the company's general manager.

Only one in 30 million lobsters is a calico, according to researchers. Several have shown up on the Cape in recent years, including at the Lobster Trap in Bourne in 2014. This one, a roughly 2-pound female, was caught offshore by the fishing boat Cowboy based out of New Bedford. Lancaster said he has contacted a few aquariums to see if they have a home for the calico and declared that this is one lobster who is not destined for the pot anytime soon.

And then there are the folks at the Durex Corporation. Their story might well be called: The Future of Sex and the Smart Phone. In a story that their public relations department is pitching, Durex, a maker of condoms, says that the future of sex will be brought to us by the company's "digital technology division". Digital condoms? Now there's a mental image for you.

The company released a statement announcing that Durex is taking its "first significant step into the digital marketplace, with the division's manifesto being to embrace changing social behaviors and the paradigm of intimacy and mobile technology." The company will imminently announce what it describes as its first "game-changing product". This product is described as a technological breakthrough that will actually help users achieve an orgasm.

The news release quotes Richard Arnold, Head of Research and Development Durex: "With our deep understanding of arousal and the impulses involved, it was only natural for us to look at how we could combine this with digital technology."

You've probably seen articles about people who use electronic devices at times when their use might seem a bit…umm…inappropriate? Well, Durex has noticed the trend.

"We took inspiration from modern habits and our ever growing reliance on portable technology for virtually everything in day to day life and our market research has identified a genuine desire for this technology in our sex lives."

Local anglers, bored with the never ending snowstorms, might want to take notice that Durex is looking for beta testers who want to be "the first to experience this new breakthrough."

If you're interested, connect with Durex Labs. That's, folks…and I'm thinking about shooting an email over to those people and offering my services to test whatever it is they're talking about. I mean, why not jump on the digital-orgasm-train before it leaves the station? I wonder if George Orwell is rolling over in his grave?

Oh, and it looks like the salary cap is breaking up that Old Gang of mine…the New England Patriots, that is. The Pats will not be picking up Vince Wilfork's option and the big man will be plying his trade at nose tackle elsewhere unless the number crunchers at Patriot headquarters can find a way coax big Vince to sign on again for less money.

Well, the Pats have the Lombardi Trophy safely ensconced in its display case and maybe the numbers boys will find a way to keep both Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty in the fold. If so, there's a good chance Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will nail down their fifth Super Bowl and ride off into the sunset as the best ever. But, lordy, I wish the snow was gone, spring was here and we could start guessing the arrival date on the first stripers returning to Cape waters. Put me down for May 7th.
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