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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 28, 2015

Lazy Fall Days And the Scorched Earth Tour Marches On

by Jerry Vovcsko

September on Cape Cod…always an interesting time of year. And this year is no exception. Just to mention a few for-instances:

Right now thousands of birds of prey of 15 different species are busy flying over our heads. The annual fall migration of day-flying raptors — hawks, eagles, peregrine falcons, kestrels, kites — is one of New England's great wildlife spectacles and one that most people never notice. The migrating eagles and hawks may cover more than 200 miles a day on their autumn journey to central and South America.

Meanwhile, in our watery environs, a dead 12-foot white shark was found ashore at Pleasant Road Beach in Harwich this past weekend. According to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), the shark was transported to the Harwich Transfer Station Sunday morning. Dr. Greg Skomal, the state Division of Marine Fisheries shark expert, performed a necropsy on the animal at the transfer station. But the procedure did not reveal a cause of the death, according to AWSC.

A gent name of Darren Saletta who owns Monomoy Sportfishing out of Chatham and fishes commercially has an idea that bears some consideration. He wants to put together a plan to bring Alaskan salmon - Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to be precise – here for local folks to enjoy at reasonable prices.

"You'd be supporting small boat commercial fishermen," he told local Cape Cod Times columnist Rob Conery. " It's basically a community supported fishery model for other sustainable fisheries within our borders."

Prices are a little over $200 for 20 pounds of wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon. I went online to to put in my order and I'll be able to pick it up October 3rd. I lived in Washington State for eight years and can tell you that wild caught sockeye is nothing like the artificially colored stuff you see in the supermarkets. The fish are bled at sea and slipped immediately into a cold salt water slurry that keeps the fillets firm. Then they get bagged and flash frozen, ready to ship. I'll be ready to fire up the grill when they get here.

Took my wife up to Provincetown Sunday as she wanted to see the P'town Dahlia Festival. Later we parked over at Herring Cove Beach and I watched an angler working his open console boat in and around a small rip that had formed about thirty feet out from the shore. He pulled in a couple of stripers that looked keeper-size. I think he was drifting mackerel chunks in the current. It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-sixties, the kind of day where even if you don't catch anything it still feels great to be out on the water.

One of the guys casting plugs from the beach said the bluefish action around Race Point had been hot lately and stripers have been succumbing to live eels down along the outside beaches especially after dusk. These are probably bass coming down from northern waters getting ready to head south as part of the fall migration.

Things are quiet in Nantucket Sound although albies continue to cruise and bluefish will likely be with us until October chills things down. It looks like the Elizabeth Islands continue to hold their striper population and the rips out behind Nantucket Island are alive with a mix of bass and blues and will be for a while yet. These blues tend to run close to the ten pound range and a few stripers upwards of twenty pounds will be pulled from those rips over the next couple of weeks.

In addition to scoping out the fishing activity in Provincetown waters, I tuned in the game between the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars. Tom Brady broke a record as he joined the exclusive 400-touchdown club along with three other Hall of Fame bound quarterbacks. Stephen Gostkowski broke an NFL record with his 423rd consecutive extra point kick without a miss. And the Patriots dismantled the Jags as they continued the 2015 Scorched Earth Tour with a bye week waiting right around the corner.

I want to thank Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL Clown Patrol that set out to sabotage the Pats per Roger the Dodger's instructions and, instead, have managed to loose the Kraken. With the weapons the Patriots have, it's questionable that anybody can stop their march to a fifth Super Bowl…and won't that be something to see if Roger Goodell has to hand over the Lombardi trophy to Bob Kraft?

Oh, and speaking of records, how about the young guy who spotted his first ocean sunfish near Boston Harbor and unleashed about fifty F-bombs in less than two minutes? That's got to be some kind of a record, doesn't it?

September 15, 2015

Strange Turtles Showing Up and Funny Fish Fever In Cape Waters

by Jerry Vovcsko

The never-ending saga of Joe's Lobster Mart added yet another chapter as the Sandwich Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a special permit last week that could pave the way for the Lobster Mart to pick up where it left off near the Sandwich Marina.

The special permit had been sought by G-Four LLC, members of the Gallo family who own the property. Their attorney, Jonathan Fitch, said the Gallos plan to lease the lot at 0 Gallo Road to Joseph Vaudo for a wholesale and retail seafood market similar to the one he had operated for decades. Vaudo had his licenses to sell fish revoked by the state Department of Public Health after he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen oysters in Barnstable District Court. It remains to be seen if Vaudo will be able to get licenses to operate the new location.

Vaudo, of course, was bounced from the original fish market after being caught buying stolen shellfish, fined for that offense and kicked out of day-to-day operations of the seafood business. The new market still needs a permit from the Old King's Highway Historic District Committee. That committee is scheduled to take up the project Sept. 23.

Vaudo was subleasing the Cape Cod Canal location to a longtime colleague before it closed Aug. 31. He is also seeking a demolition permit from Old King's Highway so he can comply with his federal lease to remove the building on property belonging to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Who says crime doesn't pay?

It looks as if yet another invasive species has its sights set on New England waters. Biologists say Chinese soft-shell turtles found on Wollaston Beach in Quincy last week pose a potential threat as an invasive species to the state.

Onlookers spotted the turtle, a species native to the waters of eastern Asia, digging in the sand at Wollaston on Labor Day. Members of the New England Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Team came to collect it the following day. A second turtle, believed to be of the same species, was spotted on the beach later in the week but its whereabouts now are unknown.

Scientists are worried that if the species gets a foothold, like it has in the Philippines, it could consume a lot of small fish, insects and mollusks and cause a serious problem in the ecosystem. The turtles also eat snails, shellfish, crabs, fish detritus, and some plants and could compete with other native turtles as well as carry disease to other native species.

Nantucket Sound is awash in peanut bunker and other baitfish and that's ratcheted up the false albacore action end to end as well as around the Big Islands. Local bait shops report funny fish cruising along the beaches and chasing bait every which way. Great Point on Nantucket has been seeing dawn to dusk action all week long and the continuing presence of bluefish in the Sound only adds to the fun.

Striped bass are another matter, though, and it takes persistence and savvy to score with resident linesides. Not to worry, though…won't be too long before the annual fall migration comes into view and that's when pretty much anybody who can wet a line can expect to catch striped bass.

Bottom fishing has slowed considerably since black sea bass season closed. Fluke still abound over on the Middleground and around Cleveland Ledge and tautog can be found in numbers over at the Weepecket Islands, but anglers will have to wait until next year to pursue those tasty black sea bass for the freezer.

Some striper action has picked up recently around Barnstable Harbor although most of that action involves school-size bass. A few keepers have been nailed by folks employing the tried and true tube and worm method. Bluefish continue to hang around in Nantucket Sound as well as over in Cape Cod Bay and boaters working along the edge of the Brewster Flats on an ebbing tide have experienced lively mid-day action tossing plugs and jigs.

The Cape Cod Canal is hit-or-miss although local "canal rats" working jigs down deep during the night tides have taken some large bass including a twenty-five pound striper last week. At the east end, anglers drifting mackerel chunks have also had some success. When the fall migration kicks off, the Ditch becomes a super highway of south-bound stripers and the rip rap will be lined with hopeful anglers.

Next Sunday will see the New England Patriots heading for Upstate New York as the Pats take on Rex Ryan's Buffalo Bills. It'll be interesting to see what Bill Belichick has planned for the Bills' new starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. Taylor played well against the Indy Colts but hasn't had much game experience and Belichick lights up at the sight of young QBs – should be an interesting game. I know where I'll be come 1 PM on Sunday.

September 08, 2015

Strange Days of Labor Day Weekend

by Jerry Vovcsko

It may have been sunspots, holes in the ozone layer or a disturbance in The Force. Whatever the reason, it seemed like this past Labor Day weekend on the Cape was one of the kookiest ever.

To start with, bathers enjoying the sun at White Crest Beach in Wellfleet were startled to find a fourteen foot great white shark stranded on the sandy shore.

A crowd of about thirty people gathered on the beach to watch and more looked on from the dunes with binoculars, said Suzanne Grout Thomas, beach administrator for Wellfleet. Bystander formed two lines and along with two rangers from the Cape Cod National Seashore and researches from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy helped get the shark back into the ocean. The conservancy used one of its tagging boats to tow the shark into the water assisted by the willing beach folk.

Unfortunately, the shark was bleeding from serious internal injuries and the return to the water was in vain. Scientists will be trying to determine what caused the shark's death.

While New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady straps on his helmet in preparation for up for the team's opening game Thursday after a judge lifted his four-game suspension, he might be pleased to know that a great white shark named in his honor will be swimming somewhere off the coast of Cape Cod.

Brady, the 13-foot male great white, was tagged off Nauset Beach in Orleans last week. He was the 15th shark to be tagged this season by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, an Orleans-based nonprofit agency dedicated to shark research. Sixteen sharks have been tagged so far this summer, according to Conservancy officials.

Disgruntled Patriots fans are probably hoping that Brady the Shark bumps into NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell swimming at one of the Cape's beaches and decides to take a nip out of Roger the Dodger's rancid carcass. He's not a lawyer so there's no likelihood of "professional courtesy" forgiveness.

And, of course, what would Labor Day on Cape Cod be without traffic issues? Which is why the smart guys decided to get a jump on their holiday departure by leaving early...which is also why Route 6 turned into a packed-full-parking-lot - thirteen miles long – by mid-afternoon.

But to get a true picture of the Labor Day weekend's wonkiness, here's a sample of the police report from the Bourne PD.

•Two children's bikes (and helmets) stolen
•Man walking dog tells driver to slow down, driver and passenger get out to argue with man
•Woman calls for help in shutting off car, running for hours in garage, FD responses to ventilate
•Dog triggered lock, locking himself in vehicle
•Party reports someone sleeping in her backyard
•Man in beige shirt and shorts jumping in front of cars on Sagamore Bridge (lost his wallet driving over the Sagamore and was trying to retrieve it)
•Report of someone walking down the road in a bathrobe and slippers at 4:30 p.m.
•Employee alleged to have stolen scratch tickets from employer
•Report of watermelon being thrown at cars
•Unwanted tweets on Twitter
•Anonymous "you are a bad person" texts received
•Suspicious male in a unicorn mask
•Caller reported seeing an ice cream truck driver drinking and driving
•Driver called to report seeing a bakery truck with the back door rolled up and baked goods falling into the road
•Propane tank thrown through window
•Angry customer punches, shatters window
•Person in Speedo walking in traffic on the Sagamore Bridge

Seems to me having a car running "for hours" in their garage might create a waking-up problem for anybody sleeping in the house. And I wonder if whomever was throwing the watermelon at passing cars might want to get together later with the guy driving the ice cream truck and the bakery truck dude for an impromptu picnic under the stars.

The gent walking in a Speedo probably got home a lot faster than the folks sitting in that 13-mile backup at the Sagamore Bridge. And I have no doubt the fellow in the unicorn mask was Roger Goodell trying to sneak over the bridge before Patriot fan spotted him. All in all, it was Labor Day on Cape Cod and another summer vacation slips away into the mist of history. Must be getting near time for that annual fall migration to put in an appearance…can winter be far behind?

Oh yeah, and what's happening with the fishing hereabouts?

Striper action has been slow although the Elizabeth Islands continue to deliver bass to early morning anglers and a couple of plus-thirty-pound fish were caught in Robinsons Hole by locals employing live eels in the rips around the northeast corner.

Albies and bonito ruled the action in Nantucket Sound especially in the stretch of water between Lackey's Bay and Woods Hole Harbor. The Middleground saw swarms of boats working the reef on westerly running tides in pursuit of fluke and the occasional jumbo bluefish.

Speaking of bluefish, they are all over the Sound right now and it's a challenge to dunk bait without having these voracious eating machines severing an angler's line.

The big schools of stripers that hovered around Race Point for a good share of the summer have broken up and dispersed – they'll be shoving off before long headed back to southerly waters…but not just yet.

Aside from the great whites that have been terrorizing the seal colony around Chatham, other shark species inhabit Cape Cod Bay and both thresher and mako sharks have been targeted this summer. The area between Race Point and the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank has been productive with makos as well as Bluefin tuna this year.

Now is an ideal time to hit the surf along the outside beaches for striped bass. Head of the Meadow and Ballston beaches in Truro are active. And Nauset is worth a look particularly around Coast Guard Beach at dusk and into the night. Live eels are killer baits around the sandbars and holes.

Two points I feel the need to make: the Patriots, Deflategate notwithstanding, are looking very solid this year and chances are Belichick/Brady have a burr under their saddles. If I were the Indy Colts I might be a tad nervous going up against the Pats later this season. Bill B. may not say much but he's got a long memory and isn't averse to running up the score to make a point.

And keep an eye on the Red Sox next year. All those talented young outfielders (Betts, Bradley and Castillo) have the defensive ability to make a pitching staff look really good. And Jackie Bradley, Jr, is beginning to look like the reincarnation of Ted Williams these last few weeks of the season. New England fans have a lot to look forward to and there's always that fifth Super Bowl as a motivating force. Buckle up, sports fans, for what promises to be a helluva ride.

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