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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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August 30, 2013

One Cool Cat and Tebow Time in New England

by Jerry Vovcsko

A newly-purchased 30-foot boat briefly caught fire near the Nobska Point Lighthouse last weekend after crashing into a rock. The boat had left Falmouth Harbor in mid-afternoon when it struck the rock, dropping one of the twin motors into the water and sparking an electrical fire that was confined to the electrical compartment. Those swirling currents that churn the waters around Nobska make it prime striper territory but the massive ledges just beneath the surface routinely dine on boat hulls piloted by careless or inexperienced skippers. This owner inflicted about $150,000 damage on his craft by not paying attention to charts that all but screamed: STAY AWAY from the waters close in around Nobska.

East End Canal fishing has picked up lately and one local bait and tackle shop weighed in a hefty forty-two pound bass pulled from the Ditch. There's been lively action at varying times around Murderer's Row, the Mussel Bed and Pip's Rip. The Elizabeth Islands continue to produce bass with the bigger fish showing up down around Quicks and Robinsons holes as well as Sow and Pigs reef and around Cuttyhunk Island itself. Anglers who work plugs or eels amidst the rocks surrounding Penikese Island have a chance to nail double-digit tautog as well as big stripers.

Bonita swarm around the Vineyard and Nantucket nowadays. Great Point and the Bonita Bar on Nantucket have been productive and there were a few plus-thirty-lb stripers taken at Devil's Bridge on Martha's Vineyard by anglers trolling big swimming plugs or drifting live eels. The biggest striper was hauled in by one local who specializes in livelining scup around the reef.

Pods of four to five pound blues continue to cruise the Sound and occasionally pin bait against the beach in such places as Popponessett and South Cape beaches. Hedge fence Shoal has rewarded folks bottom fishing there and the Middleground lights up off and on with west running tides most productive for fluke and the occasional black sea bass.

Buzzards Bay and most of the south side estuaries are alive with snapper blues now making it especially rewarding to take kids out for a day on the water. Light gear and tiny lures will draw plenty of action for young folk to enjoy. And scup provide extra fun as they seem to be around in bigger numbers (and size) than most years. Bring plenty of seaworms and let the kids have a ball catching these ocean-going panfish.

Striper action seems to have died down on the outside beaches but anglers fishing the surf down round Chatham can amuse themselves by watching the ever increasing population of seals chasing and devouring stripers (including ones they may have hooked up with). With any luck at all that seal that swiped the big bass off the angler's line will enter the food chain via a hungry twelve foot great white…payback, as they say, is a bitch.

Cape Cod Bay is heavy with bluefish right now and some nice bass have been taken over at Billingsgate and further west off the Manomet Cliffs area by tube and worm anglers. There was a brief striper blitz off Scusset Beach mid-week but nothing much by way of size. The Brewster Flats are worth a look on a falling tide. Anglers tossing plugs in the evening hours have done very well for themselves and drifting live eels at the edge of the Flats just before dark might produce a keeper or two as well as a jumbo blue.

North Falmouth is a far cry from the real "North Country", but last week it turned up a sighting of a creature more at home in the Adirondacks or the Canadian wilderness than on Cape Cod. Chris LeBoeuf, who lives on Teneycke Hill Road, was returning home around midnight when he spotted a large feline in his yard, said Chuck Martinsen, deputy director of the Falmouth Department of Marine and Environmental Services.

LeBoeuf said he wasn't at first surprised to see an animal – which he described as about the size of a small- to medium-size dog – in his yard when he pulled into driveway. His property, located 12 miles from the Bourne Bridge, abuts conservation land, where wildlife thrives, he said. This animal disappeared into the woods when he drove in, but then it came back out, and stood on top of a rock wall about 8 to 10 feet from where LeBoeuf sat in his car.

It was too dark, so he turned on his headlights. The animal didn't move and he began to video it with his iPhone. When the cat turned to slink away, LeBoeuf saw the little tail, and thought he might be seeing some sort of exotic cat. Later, he sent his 32-second video to local experts who confirmed that it was indeed a bobcat.

Although the video is a little murky, when the animal turns to walk away, the picture shows a stubby tail, just a few inches long. This nubby appendage, white on the underside and with a black tip on the end, is what led wildlife officials to say definitively that the bobcat had somehow managed to cross the Cape Cod Canal.

Bobcats are classified as common in the central and western regions of Massachusetts, according to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. They are classified as "present" in the northeastern part of the state, and "rare to absent" in Southeastern Massachusetts, but the state may just have to revise that classification before long.

The 2013/2014 NFL season gets underway in less than a week and the Patriots are looking pretty good right now. But who would have thought that come opening day, Tim Tebow might still be on the New England roster? Tim Tebow and Bill Belichick certainly qualify as the NFL's version of the Odd Couple, but they are both hard-wired to winning and wouldn't it be a hoot to see the two of them standing side by side when they hand out the Lombardi Trophy at the Super Bowl? It could happen.

August 22, 2013

Hi-times,Offshore, Inshore

by JerryVovcsko

Okay, so maybe the striper fishing's slowed down a tad in Cape waters, but there are plenty of bluefish around and fluke, black sea bass and scup continue to provide plenty of action for anglers in places such as L'Hommedieu and Hedge Fence Shoals just off the southern coast of Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound.

August 12, 2013

It Only Gets Weirder

by Jerry Vovccsko

Check out the Associated Press story about a Connecticut angler who holds the current striper record at 81+ pound…too bad the story is rife with silly remarks by the reporter who obviously knew nothing about striped bass or fishing for that matter. Forty-four inch record for length? Stocking streams??C'mon.....

A few evenings back 29 year old Justin Sprague hopped on his bike and headed down for a ride along the Cape Cod Canal. He hadn't intended to do any fishing but seeing a bunch of fishermen hard at it along the Canal he decided to go home and grab his gear. When he got back he picked a spot known to Canal regulars as Murderer's Row. He'd been casting for about fifteen minutes with no luck and then spotted a tail breaking the surface. He thought it was a shark and flipped a cast in that direction and found himself hooked up, not with a shark, but with a real rarity around these parts: A white Marlin!

His first reaction when he figured out what he'd hooked into was "Holy S-word!"

After being hooked under its mouth, the fish began jumping out of the water "just like you see on TV," Sprague said. Two nearby fisherman came by to help and combining their efforts the men eventually pulled the fish up onto the rip rap. The fish was "a good 6 feet long" and weighed at least 60 pounds, Sprague said. The fishermen tried to revive the fish after catching it, but were unable to.

Anglers who land billfish — such as a white marlin — must report it within 24 hours and there's a minimum size restriction of 66 inches, according to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries division. Confusion over the legality of his catch was part of the reason why Sprague ended up giving it to the two men who helped him pull it ashore, he said.

"I was on my 10-speed. I didn't even have pliers," he said of how ill-equipped he was to deal with the fish, and said his catch wasn't so much the work of a skilled fisherman, but being at the right place at the right time.

"I never really have good luck fishing," he said.

Yeah, well, I wouldn't mind not-having-any luck like that myself.

In my last column I mentioned the shark turning up in the doorway of a Nantucket pub. Looks like a copycat "sharker" was on the loose in the New York subway last week. New York City's transit authority says a conductor found a small dead shark aboard a subway train in Queens on Wednesday. Apparently fearing that "Jaws" might be lurking nearby, the conductor asked passengers to leave the car and closed it off. The train continued to the end of the line, and there a supervisor placed the shark in a garbage bag and put it in the trash. Photos on a New York blog show the shark with a cigarette in its mouth and a can of Red Bull nearby.

Transit officials are aware of the photos but are making no effort to find the person who posted them, saying they have ‘‘better things to do.'

Yessir, never a dull moment in the Big Apple.

Locally, striper fishing has slowed a tad as water temperatures hover in the seventies and the low-hanging fruit has already been picked clean. Now it takes some savvy and experience to hook up with Morone saxatilis (In my mind they'll always be "Roccus") and that probably eliminates a large segment of visiting anglers. Nevertheless, there are bass around and they can be caught. A few important considerations when it comes to methods:

1) Some of these bass have traded in their usual haunts for deeper water. Swimming plugs that dig deep will bring results when the shallow running favorites go fishless.

2) Fish moving water! Rips are good lurking places and stripers will hang around waiting for the current to bring bat past them. Why exert themselves when the rip-buffet-line will bring food to them? Criss- cross working rips with casts be sure to get lures up into the place where the rip begins.

3) With warmer waters around it becomes even more important to get out there just before first light as it's the best time to tangle with stripers on the feed. Top water lures will do the trick although later in the day deep runners are far more effective. Besides early morning activity, next best is dusk into the night hours. Drifting chunk baits, live eels or herring in fishy-looking places is a good way to find where the bass are doing business.

4) Slow it down, folks. No point in making a good sized striper exert itself any more than need be to catch up with bait or lure. Make it easy for the fish to dine on your offering and there's a better chance of hooking up.

Bluefish are another matter altogether and they like the warm temperatures. Pods of blues continue to cruise Nantucket Sound and when you catch one you'll generally take more of that size as they tend to school up in roughly the same size class. Some false albacore are beginning to filter into the Sound and the Lackey's Bay mouth is one of the first locations where they show up. I've had pretty good luck tossing metal slabs – Kastmasters, Hopkins Lures, Deadly Dicks – until I locate a school and then working that spot. If they disappear, stay put, they'll circle around and return nearby…keep your head on a swivel until they show up once more and cast a little beyond the school and work back through it for best results.

One lucky gent landed a 900+ pound Bluefin east of Chatham…didn't think there were too many in that size class still left so it's good to hear there are still some around. The Japanese covet these fish for their rare-beefsteak-like flesh and it's tempting to target fish that can bring thousands at the dock from waiting fish buyers. But it also takes a long time to grow a Bluefin to that size and there may come a time where the huge "horse-mackerels" slide into the mists of extinction as some management people are concerned might happen.

We're not too far from the start of fall migration and fishing will definitely ramp up then before it's time to store the gear away. Hard to believe we're less than three weeks out from Labor Day weekend but there it is. I see Red Sox owner John Henry has bought the Boston Globe and Amazon titan Jeff Bezos is acquiring the Washington Post. Wonder what it feels like to sit down and write a check for $70 million as John Henry will be doing? Me, I'm a little nervous writing a check for $7 if it's near the end of the month and my math is a little shaky when it comes to balancing the checkbook.

Okay, that's it for now. There's more fishing to do and time's running out. I'll have more in another week or so…tight lines.

August 06, 2013

Jumping the Nantucket Land Shark

by Jerry Vovcsko

Those wild and crazy guys over there on Nantucket! What'll they think of next? Seems last week a cleaning crew found an unexpected mess when they arrived at the Sea Dog Brew Pub on Nantucket: a 5-foot-long shark blocking the door. Pub manager Jimmy Agnew says he doesn't know why anyone would have dumped the sea creature there. But Agnew says the pub fielded calls and questions all day long after word got out about the land shark and everybody had their own theory about how it got there. Two people had been removed from the Sea Dog in separate incidents Wednesday night, Agnew said, but he didn't know if they had anything to do with dumping the shark.

One local wag speculated that the shark went to the Sea Dog ‘‘to meet his chums.'' Others thought it might have arrived early for happy-hour and one regular said he'd seen the shark at the pub during a previous Karaoke Night and had a friend who "may have dated it".

It gets a little wonky over there on the Big Island, especially when the drinks begin to flow and the band kicks out the jams. Guess it's probably time for Inspector Clouseau to solve the Great Sea Dog Pub Shark mystery, aka, what's a nice critter like you doing in a place like this?

Meanwhile, a bit westerly of Nantucket the fish have been biting with gusto. Some large blues were grabbing chunk baits around Chappaquiddick Island. Bass and blues mixed in the Menemsha Channel kept local anglers busy in the early morning hours. Things will heat up even more when late season funny fish – albies and bonnies – show up in numbers a couple of weeks from now.

Striped bass are not especially fond of the warmer water temperatures that have seeped into Nantucket Sound but bass can still be found, schoolies mostly along the south around Cuttyhunk in the Elizabeth Islands chain. Plenty of scup around the islands right now and fluke can be found on and off at such places as the Middleground and Lucas Shoal in Nantucket Sound.

At Provincetown the word is "sand eels' and there are swarms of these little bait eels all the way from Race Point to below Truro. Every now and then stripers and blues shift into a feeding frenzy and if an angler happens to be in the vicinity when the blitz kicks off, sore arms will be the result as the fish hit just about anything tossed their way.

There are plenty of bass down Chatham way and the action around Monomoy has been red hot at times. The cut formed by last winter's storms is a popular spot but steer clear of the seal populations that have proved so attractive to great white sharks recently.

Speaking of great whites, there have been several beach closings over the past couple of weeks when sharks were spotted cruising nearby lining up their dinner. Town regulations call for swimmers to stay at least 100 yards away from the seals (and great whites). I don't know about other folks but I prefer to locate as far away as possible when these eating machines are in the vicinity – Wisconsin is none too far away for me to feel secure, but they'll close a beach at 9AM because of a great white sighting and open it an hour later when they figure the shark is gone. But sharks are pelagic creatures capable of putting a thousand miles on the odometer in a hurry, so I'd like a little more than a hundred yards as a safety zone if you don't mind.

Stripers showed up between Town Neck Beach and Scorton Creek last week and a few folks scored heavily working the edge of the Brewster Flats with tube and worm rigs. Billingsgate Shoal produced some nice bass for folks wirelining jigs along with the tube and worm method and plug casters did well for themselves around the mouth of the Pamet River – the Pamet's a weedy place so expect to pick plenty of salad in some spots.

The Cape Cod Canal has been improving the past few days and several bass in the forty-inch were measured at local bait shops. Overall, things will remain somewhat slow for another week two until the albies and bonnies show up in Nantucket Sound, but there's plenty of action on tap as we ease into late summer, early fall, Seems we were just waiting anxiously for the 2013 season to arrive and now here we are contemplating the fall migration one more time. Whatever happened to those endless slow-moving summer we knew as kids?

The Red Sox are still in first place in the Division race. Bud Selig's fixing to put it to A-rod in the form of a suspension through the 2014 season, and Jose Iglesias and his magic glove got traded to the Tigers allowing the Sox to pick up starting pitcher Jake Peavy. Don't blink because you'll miss the World Series and when you open your eyes it'll be the New England Patriots taking the field. Wither goest, Louie Tiant?

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