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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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October 31, 2013

Greed is Good

by Jerry Vovcsko

From worst to first! That's the story of the 2013 Boston Red Sox. The Brotherhood of the Beard lads who sneaked up on the rest of the league after a truly hideous 2012 season won all the marbles last night before a frenzied crowd at Fenway Park. John Lackey, he of the chicken and beer debacle in 2011, found redemption by pitching 6 strong innings on the way to defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 to claim the World Series title.

October 22, 2013

Trick or Treat Time in New England

by Jerry Vovcsko

With Halloween rapidly approaching it won't be long before the trick-or-treat crowd comes a-knocking at our doors hoping for goodies to fill their treat bags. And on the "trick" side of things it appears that a few local pranksters may have gotten an early jump on the spooky season as the Massachusetts Environmental Police and Stoughton police have launched an investigation after the carcass of a four foot decapitated shark was found dumped in the woods, officials said.

The body of the blue shark was found just before 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 on Shuman Avenue.

"We got a call for a smell in the woods," Stoughton Deputy Police Chief Rob Devine said.

After finding the headless shark, local police handed the case over to the environmental police, Chief Devine said.

Blue sharks, which are allowed to be harvested, are abundant in New England waters and to be legally harvested, must be a minimum of 54 inches long and can only be caught one at a time. Environmental police do not find the shark-dumping amusing and warn that whomever it was that dumped the carcass could be prosecuted for violations of fishery law, illegal dumping, or animal cruelty.

As the 2013 striper season winds down in Cape waters local anglers continue to do well in the Canal although lately mostly school-sized bass have been taken along the banks of the Ditch. A few thirty pound fish have been caught on the night tides and hopes are high that more large fish will be arriving from northern waters as Maine and New Hampshire populations work their way south.

Some large schools of bunker have been showing up around the Elizabeth Islands and up into Buzzards Bay. Back in the day Cape anglers could count on huge numbers of baitfish being driven into Woods Hole Harbor and stacking up against the shoreline as jumbo blues and big bass slashed through the bunker schools while taking on calories for the impending fall migration. These days fewer bunker have passed through but it looks like the numbers may be on the rise.

Tautog and black sea bass have been plentiful in and around Buzzards Bay with a number of small skiffs clustering around Cleveland Light and along the Bay shoreline from Megansett to Quisset Harbor. Mixed in with these bottom dwellers are occasional schools of stripers in the twenty to twenty six inch size range. Four and five pound blues round out the mix and provide lots of action for fly rodders as well as light gear aficionados.

Funny fish continue to make an appearance in Vineyard Sound and the stretch of water from Lackey's Bay on Nonamesset Island easterly as far as Menahaunt Beach has rewarded anglers lucky enough to be in the right place as a school came through. Bright metal slabs are the best bet for these roving bands of tiny tunoids; it's a good idea to keep a rod on hand rigged with a 3/4oz Kastmaster and ready to go. When the albies show up there's no time to re-tie lures.

One of the best places to pursue striped bass has to be along the western coastline of Martha's Vineyard across from the Elizabeths. Devil's Bridge continues to produce keeper size bass with the occasional twenty and thirty pound fish taken especially during the night hours. On the islands, Quicks Hole and Sox and Pigs may be the best bets for hooking up with a "cow" bass.

Over in Cape Cod Bay small stripers can be found close to shore from Barnstable Harbor and Sandy Neck Beach past Scorton Creek and Old Sandwich Harbor. Jig and plastic combinations are effective and topwater action with needles and darters can be had around first light. Folks have been taking kayaks up inside places like Scorton Creek and Barnstable Harbor with good results recently. The salt marshes teem with baitfish and other munchies and striper will prowl way up into surprisingly skinny water looking for tasty treats. And don't forget to try the edges of the Brewster Flats when the tide is falling…striped bass line up along the edge of the flats like Discount Tuesday at the local Country Buffet.

Cape ponds have been stocked now and there's excellent trout fishing from Sandwich to Brewster and over toward Harwich and Chatham. Peters Pond on the Falmouth/Sandwich line is a trout bonanza right now and such places as Sheep and Long Pond in Brewster may just deliver a double-digit broodstock salmon to some lucky angler as the environmental trucks carry out their stocking chores with a few bonus salmon thrown in to make an angler's day.

And speaking of Trick or Treat, it was that kind of week for New England sports teams. The Patriots got whacked around pretty good by the New York Jets and it looks like the Jets may be a team to be reckoned with down the line…that's a stout front four the New Yorkers line up on defense and they mounted a formidable pass rush without having to blitz much, a recipe for a rough day for Tom Brady.

On the other hand, the Red Sox made it to the World Series via good pitching – both starters and bullpen – along with some of the timeliest hitting imaginable. Take, for example, Shane Victorino who took a 2 for 22 batting record into the sixth game and then blasted a grand slam homer to send the Tigers home to Detroit wondering what had happened.

Well, there's plenty of sports to be played here in the New England fall and there's still plenty of good fishing to be had before we wrap it up and think about breaking out the ice gear. So no complaints from this quarter – we are darned lucky to live where we do. Tight lines, folks…and frozen ropes by Red Sox hitters to go along with tight spirals on Sunday afternoons in Foxborough.

October 14, 2013

Hey, Look! Is That the Fat Lady I See?

by Jerry Vovcsko

New England anglers have always been known to pay close attention to the heavens. The presence of a full moon can often be the harbinger of a great night out on the water when striped bass go on the bite. And the moon's powerful tug on local tides can determine whether said angler slips a thirty pound bass into the fish cooler or goes home fishless.

Well, even though there wasn't any full moon this past Sunday, the stars must have been perfectly aligned in the skies over New England because before that magical day was over local sports fans saw lightning strike not once, but twice, as both the Patriots and the Red Sox conjured up last minute wins just when it seemed defeat was all but entered in the record books.

First the Patriots taught their fans that the game was never over so long as there was time left on the clock. With the stands in Foxborough half-emptied as Pats fans resigned to a loss to the undefeated New Orleans Saints tried to get a jump on traffic, Tom Brady proceeded to take the Pats on another legendary, last- minute seventy yard sojourn and with five seconds left and no timeouts available dropped a perfect seventeen yard touchdown pass into the hands of his undrafted rookie receiver Kenbrell Tompkins for an astonishing win.

But the sports Gods weren't quite finished giving the fans a weekend for the ages. As the stadium clock ticked off the last five seconds of the Patriots incredible victory, Red Sox pitcher Clay Bucholtz took the mound in Fenway Park and fired a fastball to the Detroit Tigers leadoff hitter Austin Jackson. By the sixth inning the Tigers had rung up five runs and the Red Sox were flailing helplessly against Max Scherzer who struck out twelve Boston hitters to go with the seventeen Ks Tiger pitching had dropped on Sox hitters the night before.

But Scherzer ran out of steam and by scraping and clawing Boston managed to load the bases in the 8th inning with David "Big Papi" Ortiz coming up to bat. He promptly launched Joaquin Benoit's first pitch fastball into the bullpen in right for a game-tying grand slam homer and it was foregone that the Sox were destined to follow the Patriots into the New England book of come-from-behind sports glory. Which they did with a game-winning walk-off base hit in the ninth.

It was a day like no other in the history of New England sports. At one point both the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Tigers were gleefully welcoming the Fat Lady as she promenaded around the stadiums, but when she finally began to sing, for them the tune turned out to be "Taps" and they could only watch sadly as Tom Brady and Big Papi turned out the lights because, indeed, the party was over. What a day, sports fans…what a day!

October 08, 2013

Government Shuts Down But the Fish Don't Care

by Jerry Vovcsko

All but a handful of the hundred-plus workers employed at the huge Cape Cod National Seashore along the eastern shore of Cape Cod have been sent home for an unplanned, unpaid October vacation compliments of the government shutdown. The dozen folks still left are in the enforcement department which tells us something about priorities I guess. Anyhow, things are pretty quiet down along the beaches, dunes and scrub pines these days.

The good news is the striped bass didn't get the emails shutting things down so they're still packing on the calories getting ready for their long trip to home waters in the Hudson River or Chesapeake Bay and that makes for top notch fishing here in New England waters until they actually depart. Put that together with the mild and sunny weather we've been featuring the past couple of weeks and fall is turning out to be exceptionally pleasant as we set about wrapping up the 2013 salt water season in Cape waters.

In fact, right about now those outside beaches between Provincetown and Chatham are the scene of a watery four-lane expressway for southbound stripers and blues coming down from Maine and New Hampshire and local anglers are hitting the surf with plugs jig and plastic combos, chunk baits and live eels in pursuit of the heavyweight bass passing through. In the past two weeks or so a number of thirty pound stripers (and two 40 pound beauties) succumbed to temptation during the night tides and there will be more to follow before the season concludes.

In Nantucket Sound very few keeper sized bass have been taken recently and the majority of the fish caught around the Martha's Vineyard coastline or over on the Middleground have been schoolie size. The Sound has had decent false albacore and bonito action, especially over the past week or so, but folks hoping to score on bass have been doing business down along the Elizabeth Islands especially in the Quicks Hole area with live eels the bait of choice and tube and worm rigs taking second place.

Bass continue to show up in the Canal on a hit-or-miss basis and Buzzards Bay continues to be a striper dead zone with the exception of the western shoreline of the Elizabeths. An early morning jaunt along the islands can bring good results but the key is to be in place before first light as there is usually a half-hour interval where the "bite turns on". Folks tend to employ their tackle box favorites but I've found good, consistent results over the years with five and a quarter inch swimming plugs – Yozuris and Rebels for the most part.

All around Woods Hole and the islands the mini-tunoids have been swarming and chasing baitfish which provides great action for anglers rigged up with light gear. Everyone should experience the reel-burning run of a five pound albie or bonito at least once in their lifetime. A few old timers have been snagging pogies in the harbor and livelining them along the massive rock ledges in the channel…but that's a method best left for those who know Woods Hole on a rock by rock basis. When things go wrong in The Hole, they go wrong fast and six knots of current pouring through there can really spoil an angler's day.

Best place to wet a line right now may well be in the rips out behind Nantucket Island…Siasconset Rip, Old Man's Rip…these are chock full of bass and blues with some of those blues going ten pounds or better. It's quite a sight to see a standing wave with fish, big fish, swimming around inside the wave chasing bait. Throw just about anything in there and something will grab it. Pay attention, though, as "big water" can be extremely unforgiving where small craft is concerned.

It's probably time to give some thought to fresh water activity as the trucks are out now stocking Cape ponds with trout and the occasional salmon. Bass, both large and smallmouth, are available in most of the local ponds and pickerel are always hungry it seems.

We tend to get so engrossed with what's happening in the salt water scene that we forget the Cape has some of the finest freshwater resources available this side of the Quabbin Reservoir. Just as a change of pace it's worth a trip to Peters Pond in Sandwich or Sheeps Pond down Brewster way. And when the stripers have left us and the blues are long departed for warmer waters, the trout, salmon, perch and pickerel will still be here waiting to give anglers a tussle.

My New England Patriots are no longer undefeated as they got beat up pretty well out in Cincinnati by a tough Bengal team. But they will rise again and Brady & Co. should improve their performance when Gronkowski, Vereen, Slater, et al, return to the wars, injuries-healed. The Rays shocked the Red Sox in Tampa last night with a walk-off victory but the Sox have a deep and talented pitching staff and they should be okay in their World Series quest. Black powder season is not that far off and deer look to be plentiful this year; life is good here in New England.

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