by Jerry Vovcsko
John Lennon wrote that. He was right…and they're only getting stranger. I don't watch a lot of TV but I turned the set on the other evening and what shows up on the screen but an uber-geriatric version of Clint Eastwood having an animated conversation with, by God, a chair! Not only that, but it seems whatever the chair was telling Clint, he didn't like it. Well, no wonder…if he's anything like me I don't want my chairs talking to me. There's enough muttering and grumbling when my kids deign to sit down for a family meal so I can certainly do without hearing any complaints from the furniture.
Speaking of complaints, wouldn't you know this Labor Day weekend with crowds of people mobbing the beaches Chatham officials have closed those beaches to swimming. Just way too many great white sharks roaming around real close to shore and nobody in officialdom wanting to take a chance on having some tourist separated from a body part or two. The thing is, the weather's great and the crowds are huge and they want to get in the water. So complaints? Oh yeah…big time!
And Chatham's not alone when it comes to shark dealings. The other day Orleans officials took one look at a couple of great whites frolicking near one of their beaches and they shut things down as well. They caught their share of flack from visiting beach goers and before long they reversed course and re-opened. How long they remain open? Who knows? (UPDATE: After officials spotted several great whites near Nauset Beach, Orleans parks officials made the decision to close the beach through the Labor Day weekend as a precaution. Beaches from Chatham to Orleans are now closed to swimming)
Meanwhile, on the fishing scene the summer of 2012 served up more than its share of weirdness when species rarely if ever seen in New England waters dropped by to check out the local action. Reported sightings included everything from a tropical species (frigate mackerel) to a variety of puffer fish, a red drum, gray triggerfish and a few cobia thrown in for good measure. Why the influx of strangers? Beats me. Some say it's just random excursions by stray fish surfing along on some weird eddy emanating from the nearby Gulf Stream. Others say, like hell! And they point to major climate changes thanks to global warming and further predict that coastal areas may find themselves under water before long as the ocean rises steadily over the next few decades. If so it'll have to go some to turn my house into waterfront property but I may set out a beach chair or two in the backyard, hoist a cold one and await further developments on that score.
And if it's strange behavior we're looking for, what better place to hang out than around Cape boat ramps? Yessir, grab a seat and watch what happens when newly arriving vacationers decide to back up to the ramp and launch their Bayliner. There's the usual stuff : the boat launched sans drain plug; the emergency brake routine which ends up with car, boat and trailer rolling down the ramp as wife screams and husband tries to stop the momentum manually…a maneuver that may work for Schwarzenegger, rarely for the typical weekend warrior.
Details aren't out yet but this week an elderly gent was seriously injured in an accident involving a boat trailer and a vehicle at Ockway Bay boat ramp in Mashpee. According to emergency broadcast reports, the unidentified man suffered a severe head injury and Mashpee firefighters transported him to a MedFlight helicopter crew headed for an off Cape trauma center. I'm guessing it's likely some variation on the runaway boat/trailer situation but we'll probably hear more on that later.
As to local fishing lately, there's not a whole lot in the way of success stories…unless it's bluefish an angler is after. There are plenty of those around. And the funny fish have moved in to the area too. False albacore, bonito…even a Spanish mackerel or two. Junior, an old fishing buddy of mine, says he's been catching weakfish in Buzzards Bay but I don't know about that as Junior once told me he was heading for the Canal to try for giant bluefin from shore and when I asked him later if he had any luck he just gave me this cat-that-swallowed-the-canary look and wouldn't elaborate so I don't consider him a particularly reliable source. But nobody could catch tautog over around the Weepeckett Islands like Junior and he could find scup in two inches of water which I can confirm firsthand.
There are stripers around, but they're not easy to come by. Best bet is down along the Elizabeths and pre-dawn is the time to get going after them. Quicks Hole is the best and likeliest place to start…Robinson's Hole runs a close second. Try live eels if you got ‘em, jig and plastic combos if you don't. I'd say eelskins rigged over a big Danny plug might actually be the absolute best choice but hardly anybody fishes those anymore and those that do don't need me to tell them about using the skins; they already know.
And then continuing with our loose theme of "stuff from the most peculiar, momma category", it seems some bizarre bird behavior is now threatening migrating right whales in Patagonia where seagulls have learned that pecking at the whales' backs can leave open sores and so the birds return time and time again to eat the exposed blubber. In fact the attacks by gulls on southern right whales have become so common now that authorities are planning to shoot the birds in hopes of reducing their population. The gulls wait for the whales to surface for air and then create open wounds by pecking on the exposed flesh. The gent who posted this news item online speculated that anybody who'd ever been sh*t on by a gull might want hustle down to Patagonia to get in on the Great Gull Shoot the government plans to put on down there as soon as they can get permission from the courts. Makes you wonder if the gulls lawyered up…the whales too.
So that's about it for this week and I think John Lennon was right. Most peculiar, momma…and it ain't getting better from what I can see. But it's quiet around here right now and I'm grateful my chairs aren't dispensing any political opinions at the moment. There's more than enough dammed fools handling that chore which is why I don't plan to turn the TV on again for another little while, at least not until the NFL opens its 2012/13 season. Well, maybe if I see any reruns of "Rawhide" from back when Clint Eastwood was Rowdy Yates and barely able to take two steps without stepping in a cow pie. But at least Rowdy wasn't talking to any chairs that I ever saw…and if he did, I seriously doubt they were talking back. Trail boss Gil Favor would never stand for that.