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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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June 24, 2015

GPS and Other Whangdoodles

by Jerry Vovcsko

A trip to the local Cabela's or Bass Pro will display an array of whiz-bangs and whangdoodles sure to fulfill any angler's heart's desire. But today's fisherman will have to go some to match the kind of savvy the old timers carried with them after decades spent in pursuit of the many wily marine inhabitants that made Cape Cod legendary in the minds of those who worked the oceans in pursuit of their piscatorial inhabitants. We think it wonderful that a modern electronic wonder like the GPS can lead us back to the same spot where we caught fish the last time out; but what those old time fishermen could accomplish without the assistance of any electronic wizardry puts all to shame.

Take, for example, old Caleb Hackett, the crotchety skipper of a Nantucket sailing schooner and crew that worked the waters around Georges Bank for months at a time catching and salting cod until the ship's hold was crammed full nearly to the scuppers. The old gent searched out the best spots using a sounding lead with a hollowed out end filled with tallow and tossed overboard, then retrieved for the captain's perusal. He'd eye the bits of rock, soil and sand stuck to the tallow from the bottom and know exactly where he was even though Georges Bank was several square miles in size and no land in sight to use for reference points.

Seems the old fellow had become near legendary with the accuracy of his navigation and one day his crew decided to play a bit of a prank on him and smuggled a bit of soil from the Captain's backyard garden aboard and "salted" the sounding lead with it upon retrieval. The old gent eyed it, took a sniff and tasted a little then slammed his cap down on the deck and shouted: "Boys, Nantucket's done sunk and by God here we are right over Ma Hackett's vegetable garden!"

Local knowledge, folks…you just can't beat it.

In between the line of thunderstorms that sailed through Massachusetts mid-week, along with a genuine tornado warning, some folks managed to toss a line into the Cape Cod Canal but results were nothing to crow about. Earlier last week a 47 pound beauty was caught (and released.) In general, the Ditch has been hit-or-miss lately.

In the Sound, the action had been good before the storms and will probably resume now as the weather forecasts look stable for the upcoming week. Plenty of bluefish around and surfcasters have had good luck all along the south-facing beaches from Waquoit to Woods Hole. This is a time when metal slabs really draw bluefish activity and mylar-infused bucktail jigs score handsomely as well.
The Middleground has been a fishy supermarket lately with stripers, bluefish, fluke and big scup providing the action. The deep holes at the western end of the reef harbor large bass and a westerly running tide is best for anglers drifting the current with squid or fluke belly strips for doormat flatties.

Striper action continues red hot around Race Point – or it did up until the storms went barreling through. Tube and worm angler had also been taking keeper size bass around Billingsgate Shoal and stripers have been hanging along the western edge of the Brewster Flats – best bet there trolling the edge is on an ebbing tide.

Striper action on the outside beaches has been iffy for a while now with seaweed and mung buildup complicating things. Further south, Monomoy has been delivering bass in the 26 to 28 inch range to plug casters around Chatham Light and the Bathtub harbors a swarm of schoolie bass, good news for the fly rod folks.

Local scientists tell us the first of the 2015 season's Great White shark visitors has been spotted just offshore from Orleans. Freckles, a 16 foot female, was spotted over the weekend cruising around 100 to 200 yards out from the shoreline. I know I'm sure pleased to know there's a creature weighing over 3000 pounds and sporting a mouthful of razor sharp teeth sharing the waters with us. But I believe I'll just stick to my morning shower for a wet-down experience and I think I'll leave the "nice dip in the ocean" to the tourists flocking in across the bridges.

Speaking of sharks, there sure was a crowd of high-powered lawyers gathered in NYC for Tom Brady's DeflateGate hearing with Roger Goodell. Be assured Patriot Nation will be awaiting Goodell's decision with intense interest. Odds are, this ain't over, folks.

June 15, 2015

Plenty of Action Around the Cape

by Jerry Vovcsko

One of the intriguing aspects of fishing Cape Cod waters is the not-knowing what's tugging on your line until you reel it in. Sure, we can expect maybe striped bass, bluefish, fluke, sea bass, scup, bonito or false albacore. But anglers have occasionally been startled to find Spanish mackerel, mahi-mahi, wahoo and even lionfish stealing their baits.

And picture angler Chris Cavanaugh's surprise when the Norton, Massachusetts angler pulled a trophy-sized red drum – a southern species more commonly associated with Florida and the Gulf States – from the chilly waters of Buzzards Bay.

He was fishing from shore near his vacation rental, catching small scup on cut squid, when he ran out of bait and switched to a Berkley Gulp Shrimp. The red drum picked up the Gulp Shrimp and after a tough battle, Cavanaugh measured and released the 45-inch fish, not exactly sure what he had just caught.

Red drum are ordinarily a rare catch north of New Jersey, but at least two have been reported in New England waters in past 5 years. Some fishery scientists think that warming ocean waters may be one reason that red drum are venturing farther north.

Nantucket Sound has been alive with bluefish lately and the stretch of shoreline from Waquoit on over to Bass River continues to produce for anglers tossing plugs or metal slabs from the beach. South Cape Beach and Popponesset are hot spots lately and boaters working plugs around the Waquoit jetty have also been scoring throughout the daylight hours.

After seeing the Environmental Enforcement officers bust poachers who had racked up in excess of 300 black sea bass in recent weeks, it's a wonder there's any of those fish still around but reports of anglers limiting out on both sea bass and tautog continue to trickle in from area bait shops. Looks like Buzzards Bay stocks of bottom fish appear in good health to date.

The Cape Cod Canal has produced striper catches up to and including a few forty-inch fish. But the weather may play havoc with the Ditch as a number of fronts pass through the region this week. Where Sunday saw bright sun and temperatures in the 80s, we woke up Monday to steady rain and the thermometer reading sixty…good old New England, huh?

There's been a large pod of striped bass providing plenty of entertainment for anglers working lures around Race Point. The usual surf crowd competes these days with kayakers who have been scoring with hairball jigs and jig-and-plastic combos. Provincetown Harbor is alive with sand eels and that adds up to very productive fluke action. It must be a daunting proposition to be a bait fish surrounded by voracious striped bass, bluefish and fluke. Might be a challenge to find a safe place anywhere in the water column.

The Canal continues to produce – if you can stand the mosquitoes…that's why there are so many cigar smokers fishing there. Soak herring chunks if you've got any, or swing a three ounce jig along the bottom hoping it'll drop into one of the holes where the Big Boys lurk. Where are those holes? That's the part the locals won't tell a newcomer. You'll have to put in your time and pay some dues to find that out. But when you do…Shazam!

The outside beaches from Truro on south have been somewhat problematic as the winds push mung onto the shoreline and clog up the shallows. But those weather fronts may break up the weed accumulations and give anglers a shot at some of the keeper size bass that cruise through there. Right now is when it can be most rewarding to dunk a live eel into the wash anywhere from Head of the Meadow beach on down to Nauset Inlet. But if the shoreline is weeded in it becomes mostly an exercise in frustration as the wily eel will bury itself in the mung every time.

Perhaps the hottest spot for striped bass action at the moment is down along the Elizabeth Island chain on the Nantucket Sound side. Some of the biggest bass have been taken around Quicks and Robinsons holes. There's nothing clandestine about these spots…anybody running a small boat down that way knows where the fish are.

The technique is simple: bring the boat in as close to shore as possible; cast right up tight to the beach (or even up on shore); retrieve moderately fast and stand by for the strike. I've fished down there for thirty-five years and needed nothing trickier than that; it's as close to a sure-fire, striper-catching situation as it gets.

June fishing in Cape Cod waters is just about as good as it gets this side of the fall migration. Yessir, we're in the tall grass now, pardner…time to get out there and wet a line. See ya somewhere around Cuttyhunk…booyah!

June 06, 2015

Patched Up Ticker

by Jerry Vovcsko

.
It's nice to be up and writing again after a rendezvous with my heart surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston last month. Dr. Kaneko replaced my wonky aortic valve with a nice, new cow tissue version and, for good measure, had the pacemaker specialists install one of those nifty monitoring gadgets to boot.

During the valve replacement my heart was stopped for about an hour and a half and a machine took over for it - now there's an hour and a half in the Twilight Zone, don't you think? The marvels of modern medicine, eh? Oh, and thanks to all the Noreast folk who sent good wishes and reassuring words my way – I appreciate it.

So I'll be weighing in again with what's happening around the Cape fishing scene in subsequent reports as I rehab these old bones with frequent visits to the local surf along the Outer Cape as well as Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay. In the meantime I'll glean updates from the collection of liars, misfits, ne'er-do-wells and blithe spirits who keep me posted on who's-catching-what-and-where-they're-catching-it.

I see the officers from Environmental enforcement were busy recently in Buzzards Bay as they nailed bad guys illegally catching black sea bass. Massachusetts Environmental Police pulled over a boater in Buzzards Bay on Monday and discovered that the man had 122 black sea bass stored in coolers -- when the legal limit is only eight.


In addition, authorities believe the boat's driver, Muoi V. Huynh, 51, of Brockton, was intoxicated, Environmental Police Captain Patrick Moran said. Huynh was charged with operating under the influence, fishing over the legal limit, operating an unregistered boat, and fishing without a valid license, police said.

According to the state Division of Marines Fisheries, the limit on black sea bass for this time of year is eight. Police donated the fish to charity.

Then again on Wednesday Massachusetts Environmental Police arrested two Worcester men on charges of poaching hundreds of black sea bass in Buzzards Bay — the latest in a series of such arrests in the last month, officials said. Police found 214 black sea bass aboard the men's recreational fishing boat, said Environmental Police Captain Patrick Moran .

There's no excuse for this kind of irresponsible, greed-driven theft of the resource so here's hoping the judges who hear these cases come down hard on the perpetrators.


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