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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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April 30, 2016

Get Ready to Fish

by Jerry Vovcsko

We've got plenty of stripers coming to town these days…the migration has been moving up from New York waters and the schoolies are arriving daily. And they're moving into places like Bass River, Waquoit Bay, South Cape Beach and many of the estuaries along the Cape's south shore. It's forty-nine degrees in Nantucket South and that's close enough for striped bass to take up residence.

Soft plastic baits are particularly effective in the early season and with all the school bass moving in, now's the time to break out the rubber eels, jig&plastic combos and the smaller versions of those jumbo plastic lures that will be producing jumbo bass in the Canal later on. That stretch of shoreline between Nobska and Menahaunt Beach in Falmouth will continue to see schoolies arriving daily and if a spot doesn't producer today, tomorrow may well show a totally different result.

The Vineyard is one of the first points of arrival for migrating stripers and there's plenty of action all around the big island right now. Those tidal ponds serve as protective havens for the smaller bass and they're currently getting a workout by fly rod folks working over these waters in the early morning and around dusk. Standard approach calls for bending down the barbs and enjoying the catch-and-release bonanza.

Further west along the Elizabeth Islands stripers are moving in daily and local opportunists are beginning to run down along the islands tossing plugs into the rocks along shore and taking stripers in the sixteen to twenty-four-inch category. Another week will likely break things wide open along the island chain. And on the Buzzards Bay side we're seeing tautog move in around the Weepecket Islands with a couple of keeper sized ‘tog taken last week on green crabs. Minimum keeper size on tautog is sixteen inches with a three-fish per person catch limit.

Commercial squid boats are prospecting in the Sound over near the Vineyard but those big squid swarms haven't showed up just yet. Once they begin, stripers…big ones…will follow close behind. There's mucho bait in the Cape Cod Canal right now. Soon as serious numbers of striped bass move into The Ditch blitz feeding will likely break out and provide angler with the first bout of Canal-fever…keep those needle plugs handy and brush up the long-cast chops needed to reach-out-and-touch breaking fish.

Freshwater action continues and one amazing report came in of a seven-year-old girl in a fishing contest down Harwich way catching a ten-pound largemouth bass. There are a whole lot of grownup anglers who have fished for decades without coming close to any largemouth near that size. Congrats to the young lady.

Stripers have arrived in the Wareham area and ponds near the Mass Maritime Academy…mostly schoolies but bigger fish will be moving in shortly. Speaking of "moving in", I'm guessing the first bluefish report will come in sometime this week or next. May arrives tomorrow and that just about makes it official – we're into the 2016 striper season and it only gets better now.

Did I mention that the Red Sox waxed the Yankees last night on a two run shot by Big Papi (David Ortiz) off Yank's closer Dellin Betances? Red Sox Nation rejoices…Yankees in the cellar and the Sox closing in on first place. Yes!

April 26, 2016

Heads Up, Tom Turkey

by Jerry Vovcsko

Lots of excitement locally as Cape anglers get ready for the arrival of striped bass migrating in from the Hudson River, Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere but hunters are equally excited at the opening of the annual spring turkey hunt at the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS) which began on Monday, April 25. This is the fifth season for the hunt, according to a CCNS release. The 2016 turkey hunt will run for through Saturday, May 21, and coincide with the state turkey hunting season, which continues for an additional week.

To take part in the CCNS spring turkey hunt, a CCNS turkey hunting permit as well as a Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game hunting license and a wild turkey hunting permit are required. The CCNS hunting permit is free and available through a lottery. A total of 150 weekly CCNS permits will be issued this season. A valid Massachusetts hunting license is required to complete the application. The regulations governing the seashore hunt are consistent with most of the state rules for turkey hunting, the release said.

Per state regulations, hunting is allowed Monday through Saturday only, one half hour before sunrise until 12 p.m. The same restrictions will be followed at the seashore. For information about the CCNS spring turkey hunt, call North District Ranger Craig Thatcher at 508-487-2100, ext. 0910 or visit the CCNS website here. The park's hunting brochure, which includes maps of hunting areas, is available here.

Information about state wild turkey hunting permits and s State hunting licenses and permits are available online here. The state hunting and fishing season schedule for 2016 is here. Harvested turkeys are checked online. According to the most recent Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game data, 76 harvested turkeys were taken in 2013, up 25 from 2012. There is an annual bag limit of two wild turkeys total and only one turkey may be harvested per day.
- See more at:

back to the imminent arrival of striper, there's plenty of bait in the Canal, mostly herring and schools of silversides. The Canal herring run changed from a trickle of arriving fish to a steady stream of fish and other herring runs around the Cape have been producing as well. The surf crowd has already begun launching casts around South Caper Beach and Popponesset as well. Mostly metal slabs along with jig and plastic combos, small swimming plugs and assorted bucktail rigs. A handful of school sized bass have been reported but that action should pick up in a week or so. Squid are due in Nantucket Sound and we'll soon see the commercial boats showing up to net the wiggly, tentacled creatures. This is a good time to heave squid jigs around the piers and pilings under the lights in Woods Hole…a couple of hours in the evening can provide enough striper bait to last a week or more.

The reports of striper activity around the backside of the Vineyard have been confirmed and those fish are beginning to filter in along the Elizabeth Islands and the eastern shores of Buzzards Bay. Pretty soon we'll be hearing first rumors and then confirmed reports of bluefish in the Cotuit/Waquoit area. We're on the cusp of the 2016 striper season and life is good, in Red Sox Nation, folks…very, very good. In fact, the Red Sox just poked their heads above the .500 mark and the pitching is looking better and better. It may be a bit early to start talking World Series-talk but, what the hey….

April 16, 2016

Stripers, Yes; Cobras, No!

by Jerry Vovcsko

The word is out; the stripers are in!

Thursday morning, a couple of island locals found a school of striped bass feeding on spearing in the Martha's Vineyard surf. They said birds were working over the fish, schools of herring moving through, and hungry stripers covered in sea lice. There have also been reports of fresh schoolies being caught in Buzzards Bay around Mattapoisett and Fall River…not too surprising as the first scouts showed up in Narragansett Bay a few days ago.

This is early arrival news as we don't usually see the first stripers showing up around the Vineyard for another two weeks. And it's not like water temperatures are all that tepid right now…it's 46-degrees at the NOAA buoy in Nantucket Sound and one degree warmer in Buzzards Bay. These are small fish but won't be long before mom, pop and big brother come cruising in from the Hudson River and Chesapeake Bay. This early in season and with school sized fish it's a good idea to start with plastic and jig combos and maybe small swimming plugs. Question is, if the stripers are showing up this early, will we see be seeing bluefish coming in right behind them?

We should be seeing the commercial squid boats in the Sound pretty soon and that'll be good news for the surf fishing crowd over at Popponesset, Succonesset and South Cape beaches. It's warm and shallow around these beaches and newly arriving bass tend to congregate there. Looks like the 2016 striper season is about ready to break open so get ready, lads and lassies…here they come!
Largemouth bass fishing has been fair. Jeff at Forestdale said the smaller, mud-bottomed ponds have been producing best, but expects the bass fishing to turn at more venues when the water warms.

Trout fishing remains hot in the freshwater ponds, along with pickerel and largemouth bass. Going by the state's website, in 2015 environmental workers released around 500,000 trout in the spring and about 67,000 more in the fall. The hatcheries raise rainbow, brown, brook and tiger trout. When they reach survival size they are taken in aerated, water-filled trucks and distributed throughout the Commonwealth into rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.

Of those fish, 72 percent were over 12 inches and 55 percent were over 14 inches. There were 530 individual brown trout over 18 inches and over 80,000 browns that were at least nine inches long. These half - million or so fish are stocked, weather dependent, starting in March or whenever the ice (if any) melts and continues until Memorial Day. Then the trucks return in the fall for a pre-winter boost.

I'm always fascinated by odd facts and events involving wildlife and especially those incidents where contacts between humans and wild creatures. One of the oddest that I've encountered took place recently between an Indonesian singer known for performing with live snakes and a king cobra. There are any number of performers who seem to believe their show business act might be enhanced by draping a boa constrictor or python or even the more aggressive anaconda around their shoulders and arms in order to wow their audiences

Twenty-nine year old Irma Bule is not exactly a household name in the English-speaking world, but in Indonesia, she is known as a singer of dangdut, a pop fusion of folk, South Asian film music, and rock ‘n' roll that was popular in the 80s. Though once banned by the government, the style is now considered passe — so much so that Bule's penchant for performing with king cobras reticulated pythons, and boa constrictors is considered a bit of a gimmick.

Now I'm no herpetologist, but the idea of draping a king cobra around my neck – fangs and venom glands still intact – is not what I consider a recipe for a good outcome. And, as it turns out, it wasn't. Miss Bule was performing in a village in West Java when she was presented with a king cobra that was supposed to have been defanged. It wasn't. At some point in the act she stepped on the snake's tail and it sunk it's fangs into her thigh.

A bite from a king cobra is no joke. The snakes can grow up to 18 feet long and the king cobra's venom is also powerfully deadly. Their venom is not the most potent among venomous snakes, but the amount of neurotoxin they can deliver in a single bite — up to two-tenths of a fluid ounce — is enough to kill 20 people, or even an elephant, according to a National Geographic article. Though a snake handler with a venom antidote was on hand, Miss Bule apparently subscribed to the maxim, the show must go on. She continued to perform for 45 minutes before collapsing. Then she began vomiting, slipped into seizures and collapsed. She was transported to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Talk about odd...and tragic.

Life always seems better once we know the stripers have returned to Cape Cod waters. Now they're here and things only get better over the next few months. It's been a long – albeit mild – winter and now the fun starts. I'm down with that.

April 07, 2016

No Stripers Yet But Plenty of Action Around Town

by Jerry Vovcsko

It may be a bit early for striper action but that doesn't mean nothing's happening locally. For instance:

The annual Fisherman's Yard Sale is set for Saturday, April 16 at the Riverway Lobster House in South Yarmouth. There are roughly 30 booths with used gear for sale. All proceeds benefit Cape & Islands Veterans Outreach. Good stuff at a good price…can't beat that.

Plenty of rumor floating around of a 16 pound largemouth bass caught in a Cape Cod pond or a Plymouth pond (depending on who's telling it.) No pictures, though, and the story goes that the person who caught it, ate it…hmmmmm.

There's a new reef in Nantucket Sound, about three miles out from Saquatucket Harbor. Locals might recognize parts of it as the man-made reef is formed with busted-up pieces of the old Harwich High School. It's kind of nice to envision wetting a line and maybe hooking up with a big tautog or jumbo fluke drawn to the spot by a pile of cinder blocks that lined the old high school gym once up a time long ago.

Writer Jim Harrison dead at 78….he wrote novellas and short stories loosely based around his life growing up in the forests of Michigan. Outdoorsman, yes, but equally at home around the banquet table befitting a Paris gourmand. Harrison is perhaps most famous for "Legends Of the Fall" which he wrote after obtaining a trunk full of family journals. He was blinded in his left eye as a nine year-old when a girl he was playing with jabbed a broken bottle into his face. "Brown Dog" and "A Good Day to Die" are among the many books he wrote, but the thing about Harrison is that pretty much anything he wrote will grab hold and drag you right in to the tale. He was a master storyteller and we were lucky to have him for his seventy nine years on the planet.

And of course, there's the matter of the headless alligator whose remains were found dumped in the woods in the area of Briggs Road and Christopher Circle in the North End of the town of Westport. Detective Sgt. Antonio Cestodio, a spokesman for the Westport Police Department, said the remains were discovered laying in the leaves and under some briars by a passerby walking in the area about 9 a.m. on March 18. The head was not with the remains and police have not located it, he said.

Donna Lambert, the town's animal control officer, and a police officer responded and the animal control officer mentioned that the alligator showed "little to no decaying," according to Cestodio. The alligator appeared to be about 4 feet long when the head is included, he said.

It is illegal to possess either an alligator or a crocodile in Massachusetts and police do not know any of the circumstances concerning how the alligator came to be dumped so they are asking for the public's assistance. Anyone with information is asked to call the Westport Police Department at 508-636-1122, he said.

And, finally, the meeting between the Chatham Waterways Advisory Committee and another committee that oversees the town's Aunt Lydia's Cove - which was filmed and posted on the town's website - became heated after about a half hour as two men shouted curses and threw punches at each other.
David Davis, a member of the Waterways Committee, jumped out of his chair after calling Cove Committee Chairman Doug Feeney an expletive. The two then traded insults before Davis lunged at Feeney, knocking another committee member out of the way. Davis struck Feeney first, and Feeney returned the blow before the two were separated by other committee members.

The meeting had been called to discuss the Waterways Committee's position that docking fees on the Chatham Fish Pier should be raised from $300 to $1,000 for non-residents, plus extra fees associated with boat size. The proposition was controversial because many non-residents who would be affected may have grown up in Chatham and moved to neighboring towns, but have been part of the fishing community for most of their lives, according to Selectman Timothy Roper, who was at Thursday's meeting.

The two committees approved the increase two weeks earlier, but some members had been absent and requested a reconsideration of the vote. This request "provoked the Waterways guys into a certain testiness," Roper said on Saturday. No injuries were reported and no charges filed, he said. Roper pointed out that the two men involved in the fight have known each other within the fishing community for years, and that "it was more like a family fight than anything else."

Following the brawl, the meeting continued for another hour and a half in a "very civil" manner, according to Roper, who added that the "explosion helped clear the air and people got back to work." The discussion on docking fees will continue at a future meeting, Roper said.

So, yeah, the stripers haven't arrive yet, but there's plenty going on locally and that's not even mentioning the five inches of snow that landed earlier this week…or the four inches that's supposed to fall this coming weekend. They say it has something to do with El Nino but I think it's just another New England spring and it'll all sort itself out once the warm weather arrives. I mean, the Red Sox got snowed out in Cleveland on Opening Day so that should tell us that things are not exactly running on schedule just yet. Once that first striper comes over the gunwhales, all will be well once more and the 2016 striped bass season will be underway. So have a little patience…better days are coming.
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