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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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September 30, 2013

New England Fall Extravaganza

by Jerry Vovsko

Although fall fishing on the Cape is always a treat, it's not limited to Cape-waters only. Right about now, as we segue into October, the action lights up in and around the Plymouth area. Lots of schoolie bass in the harbor these days and some bigger ones showing up down along the Manomet shoreline and around the cliffs of White Horse Beach. This is definitely tube and worm territory and there have been a few stripers in the thirty-pound-and-up category taken recently. Local anglers familiar with the location of hull-eating rocks down that way have been doing very well for themselves working live eels among said rocks during the night hours. Swimming plugs at first light have also been productive for early risers. Another good thing about launching from Plymouth is the availability of parking for car and trailer combos in the big lot by the boat ramp and where else can an angler catch a glimpse of The Mayflower as he puts out to sea?

Striper action in Cape Cod Bay was sporadic last week but a couple of spots remained productive, including the stretch of shoreline at Sandy Neck Beach on over to the mouth of Barnstable Harbor. The many coves and inlets in the harbor itself proved productive albeit with smaller, schoolie-sized bass and three to five pound blues mixed in. Anglers working from skiffs and kayaks did well for themselves up inside the skinny harbor waters. Corporation Beach in Dennis continues to offer good bottom fishing with black sea bass and ‘tog willing to dine on seaworms and green crabs as well as mackerel chunks and sea clam baits. Nothing tastier than black sea bass although they are buggers to clean properly thanks to the bony ridge that makes them tricky to fillet.

There were a couple of good semi-blitzes in the Canal over the weekend with stripers showing up in the morning behind the skating rink and later in the day near Pip's Rip. These fish were challenging to get at as they remained out where only the long-cast lads had any shot at them. Sometimes it seems as though these fish decide to amuse themselves by showing at the surface just out of casting reach. It can be frustrating but patience and tenacity will often win the day for anglers willing to put in the time.

Nantucket Sound has slowed to a crawl for striper action but the funny fish have arrived in force now and albies and bonnies keep things hopping from Woods Hole to Waquoit Harbor. There was lots of blitz activity with albies Saturday a little ways out from the Waquoit jetty and a few lucky anglers managed to hook up with the little turbo-charged tunoids. It's worth keeping a rod rigged with a metal slab lure in case a bait-chasing school shows up and it's imperative that false albacore or bonito be bled and iced as quickly as possible…it's the difference between a truly delicious grilled fish and a skinful of mush.

The back beaches are being visited by schools of striped bass cruising by as they migrate back from whence they came. Live eels from dusk on into the hours of darkness are the best bet and topwater offerings around dawn will generally produce good results. If things are slow try adding a teaser about 18 to 24 inches above lure or bait. I keep a supply of Eddystone eels in my tackle box for just such an occasion. Most effective color seems to be pink although that varies. It can be a startling experience for an angler to land a thirty pound bass on a three inch piece of rubber while a big swimming plug goes untouched. A big streamer fly such as a Clouser can also make an effective teaser; dunno what a fish makes of this rig but it's surprising how often this combination will work when nothing else seems to work.

This would be the time of year when a trip to Wasque Rip would definitely be in order, except that Wasque got wiped out by winter storms and that familiar standing wave no longer forms where it once appeared when the ebbing tide began to run strong. Still, jumbo bluefish continue to patrol the general area and a trip out there can be rewarding when these big blues decide to show up. On the days they don't, a quick westerly trip toward Quicks Hole and Cuttyhunk can be a good alternative. Stripers will remain along the Elizabeth Islands until the last of migrating fish have departed our waters. Before turning the corner at the southwest tip of Martha's Vineyard it's often worth trying a few casts round Nomans Island…big stripers have been taken there but, as the sous chef in "Apocalypse Now" put it, "Never get out of the goddamn boat!" He only had a tiger to contend with; Nomans is littered with live ordnance from when the Navy used it for practice bombing runs back in the day.

Contrary to the doom & gloom predictions of some sportswriters the Patriots put it to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night and the defense especially had themselves a yeoman-like performance. Vince Wilfork went down, probably for the season, with a torn Achilles tendon and there was a scattering of unfamiliar names such as Mulligan, Jones and Vellone stepping up to replace the fallen…but the Pats stomped the terra and came away with their fourth win against no losses. Pretty soon Amendola and Gronkowski will be returning to the wars and those rookie wide receivers are looking better and better game by game. Oh, and the Red Sox have locked up home field advantage for the playoffs with their 97-win season…from last in 2012 to first in 2013, who'd a thunk it? For sports fans the foliage will be looking spectacular indeed in New England this year.

September 20, 2013

Getting Ready For the Fall Bonanza

by Jerry Vovcsko

Nantucket Sound water temperatures in the mid-60s means there's still plenty of time for anglers to get in their licks before the striped bass depart Cape waters for the return trip south. But even if the official start of the migration remains a month or more in the future, bass will continue to put on the calorie-stoking feed-bag over the next few weeks so now's a very good time to get after them.

And that's not even considering that we still haven't seen much of a false albacore fishery in local waters just yet. It's not clear just why the albies haven't arrived in the usual numbers by now but consensus opinion is consistent across the board: As one local angler puts it: "Wherever they are, they ain't here."

The albies may be scarce right now but Bonito have been showing up around the islands, especially in and around the Woods Hole area. Schools of albies and blues cruise around Lackey's Bay and occasionally show up just off Nobska Point. Folks who target these funny-fish keep a spare rod rigged with a metal slab such as KastMaster, Deadly Dick or Hopkins lure as the mini-tunoids find the glitter and flash of the metals alluring enough to draw strikes. Other effective lures include holographic swimming plugs like some of the Yozuris, particularly the Crystal Minnow, along with jigs that feature shiny mylar in the bucktails.

The Canal has had its good times and not-so-good moments recently and at one point there were schools of thirty-and-over stripers feeding on mackerel in the Ditch and anglers lined up around the Scusset fish pier were working out on these lunker-sized bass. But all good things come to an end it seems and lately it's been a matter of catching the occasional solo fish or more likely getting skunked. But before long the migration will turn the Cape Cod Canal into a four-lane-highway for south-bound bass and the banks will be lined with anglers looking to score a fish or two as the stripers depart.

Along the back beaches from Chatham to Truro the late afternoon to evening hours have been productive for keeper size bass. When darkness falls break out the live eels because they draw some of the most vicious hits an angler may experience all season. The waters around Monomoy continue to deliver striped bass action and the lower parts of Pleasant Bay have been productive during the day. That newly-formed cut of Monomoy Island created by last winter's storms has delivered its share of large bass and once the migration gets under way the locals will likely concentrate their striper efforts their as it makes an attractive short-cut for bass heading into Nantucket Sound. Drifting or casting herring chunks is the name of the game there and turn-of-the-tide often brings good results.

There have been some big stripers caught this past week at Billingsgate on tube and worm rigs and that will continue to be the case well into migration time. Folks working the wreck of the old target ship, the James Longstreet, have been doing very well for themselves with black sea bass, fluke and tautog. It's easy enough to find the wreck site; just pick a nice day and look for a cluster of skiffs anchored up in the middle of Cape Cod Bay...odds are, that's it.

The stretch of shoreline from Barnstable Harbor past Sandy Neck Beach and westward toward Sandwich has seen some striper activity over the past week. Popper and needless in the early morning and swimming plugs or jig and plastic combos from dusk into dark has been the way to go. Black sea bass rewarded some bottom fishers near the mouth of Barnstable Harbor and Corporation Beach off the Dennis shore offers keeper size 'tog to anglers equipped with a good supply of green crabs.

Bluefish and stripers continue to show up around Race Point and down toward Herring Cove with blues the predominant presence although the striper bite at first light has been pretty consistent and rewarding for early arriving anglers. There's still some bluefin action off to the east of the Cape and out in the canyons the yellowfin can make or break a trip depending on an angler's luck on any given day.

The rips around Nantucket hold the mix of large blues and bass that make fall fishing an exciting proposition...sometimes a little too exciting when the weather ratchets up the ante out there in the open ocean, small boats take notice. We've been very lucky so far with the weather in terms of storms and hurricane season. But there's still time for a bit of excitement to blow in from Africa and points east. It's Big Water out there and pays a skipper to keep a sharp eye out; we like to see all the boats that went out make it back.

The Red Sox clinched a playoff spot with their win last night and can clinch the division with another tonight. They feature a genuinely talented pitching staff these days and it's rounding into shape with everyone about as healthy as they've been all season. This could be another World Series year for Jonny Gomes and the rest of the bearded lads and that would make it one helluva October in New England, wouldn't it?

September 06, 2013

Watch Out For Bullwinkle

by Jerry Vovcsko

September typically brings the first hint of fall our way, maple leaves show the first coloring of fall foliage and the oaks and birches won't be far behind. Cape Cod anglers feel a surge of excitement knowing that the legendary fall migration lurks just around the corner, an event some see as the time when striper fishing is at a pinnacle in Cape waters.

Things heat up in the world of sports as well with high school, college and pro football getting under way and baseball season winding down toward the staging of the annual World Series (with the Red Sox looking mighty impressive these days after those terrible Bobby Valentine days).

Bow hunters and black powder hunters gear up for their seasons to open next month and right now wildlife experts are warning Massachusetts drivers watch for moose activity in the roadways as September marks the start of the animals' breeding season. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says male moose will often chase female moose across roads because of their urge to reproduce.

The wildlife folks say the males get "tunnel vision" and become unaware of traffic while pursuing females...guess it's not a whole lot different among the human species as far as that goes. Anyhow, motorists should keep an eye out driving around, especially in the western part of the state, because at 500 to 1,000 pounds, with long legs and top-heavy bodies, moose collisions will likely produce plenty of business for the body specialists at Maaco.

Speaking of motorists, Yarmouthport police are investigating how it is that a Jeep ended up in Dennis Pond last week. The raised hatchback of the red 2008 Jeep Wrangler was spotted by an early morning hiker near an old boat ramp at the beach on Summer Street Yarmouth, police Sgt. Gerry Britt said. The Jeep was in about 10 feet of water and after police and fire officials determined nobody was inside, it was pulled from the pond and the investigation is underway to determine how the Jeep ended up in the water. I'm guessing that the answer to that question is going to involve drugs, alcohol or kids out joyriding before another school year gets under way.

Meanwhile, there's good fishing to be had right now in Cape waters and Cape Cod Bay is one of the more productive destinations. Just off the mouth of Scorton Creek thirty-seven and forty-two pound stripers were weighed in last week and a fair number of keepers came into anglers' boats around the mouth of Barnstable Harbor. The stretch of shore along Sandy Neck was also striper-active with a few good sized blues mixed in as well. Topwater plugs in the early morning hours made for exciting moments for anglers who showed up before dawn and were on site at first light.

The Cape Cod Canal features plenty of action at the east end with live eels the bait de jure for many locals including a couple of old timers who work their magic with rigged eel, an art that has virtually disappeared but continues to be lethal on stripers in the hands of one of these piscatorial wizards.

On the Nantucket Sound side the estuaries and harbors are chock-full of snapper blues and school bass with the occasional keeper mixed in and pods of three to five pound blues can be found cruising the Sound especially in the western end around Woods Hole and the Elizabeth Islands.

he eastern shore of the islands continues to hold striped bass with many in the twenty-four to twenty-eight inch size range. Bigger bass can be found further down around Quicks Hole and Cuttyhunk Island. Recently some good scores on bass up to thirty pounds have been made in the rocky waters around Nomans Island - keep in mind that live ordinance remains on that island from the old days of military practice bombing runs, so don't decide to beach the boat and take a little stroll around the island itself.

With so much happening in the salt water it's easy to forget that freshwater fishing in southeastern Massachusetts is always available. Here's Scott Russo, a young gent from East Bridgewater, with a nice three and a half pound bass taken from one of the local ponds on a worm. That style of fishing was great fun back when we were kids and it remains so to this day so every now and then it's worth getting out there and dunking bait in the sweet water just to keep our hand in.

The New England Patriots open their 2013/2014 Super Bowl quest this Sunday coming up and they promise to be an interesting team to watch as Bill Belichick has added a lot of youth and speed, something we haven't seen in the past. And the Red Sox took the opener of their four-game set against theYankees last night by squeezing out the tying run against the Yank's legendary closer Mariano Rivera and winning it in the tenth inning behind their own super-closer Koji Uehara. Life is good in New England sports these days and we've still got plenty of time before winter winds blow. Enjoy it.

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