by Jerry Vovcsko
So here we are in that transitional stage from summer-on-the-Cape with striped bass, bluefish, bonito and false albacore a'plenty to catch, to waiting-for-ice-to-form time. What's an angler to do?
Well, the most recent ice age provided us an answer back in the day when it dragged huge boulders along while receding and scooped out all those kettle ponds that dot the Cape from Falmouth to Provincetown. Until the ice forms on the Cape's freshwater ponds, we'll just have to make do with efforts devoted to coaxing trout, bass - both large and smallmouth – pickerel,
perch and assorted panfish from the ponds scattered far and wide. PowerBait, spinner-and-plastic combos, stickbaits, streamer flies, plugs, spoons and various baits, including shiners, worms, salmon eggs and the like all have their moments of glory in the sweet water.
Peters Pond in Sandwich, Sheeps Pond, Long Pond, Cliff Pond, Flax Pond….these are all first class freshwater fishing locations. Ditto Grews, Jenkins and Mares ponds in Falmouth. Ashumet, Johns and Mashpee-Wakeby ponds offer productive waters in the Mashpee area and Barnstable's Wequaquet Lake has the added bonus of pike, BIG pike…there have been twenty-pound-plus fish taken there. Yessir, even though the stripers and blues have left for points-south and won't be back again until late spring, there's plenty for Cape anglers to do until the hardwater season commences ate ice-up in mid-winter.
But eventually winter will depart, spring will arrive and along about April the when's-the-first striper-going-to-arrive guessing-game will commence. And when that happens the 2015 summer session will be officially underway. Over the years I've had a plethora of e-mails from individuals asking for directions to "...a good spot to fish from shore on the Cape." For that I'm going to suggest that a book entitled: "Fishing New England: A Cape Cod Shore Guide" by Gene Bourque is the one book that a newbie angler on the Caper should have in his library.
Not only does it list more than forty places to fish, it includes maps and directions on how to find these spots, how-to suggestions for fishing them, and tips on accessing the locations without running afoul of landowners or town officials.
A compilation of access information for locations from Bourne to Provincetown serves as a reminder that it's always a good idea to check ahead about such matters as guidelines and permits for using four wheel drive vehicles at the National Seashore, regulations and licenses needed to obtain herring from the Cape Cod Canal herring run, parking fees and ramps and so forth. A call ahead can prevent nasty, last minute surprises and Gene includes both phone numbers and addresses for town officials.
Starting at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the guide mentions several good spots to fish along the Cape Cod Canal.
This is not vague, general information. It's specific to the point that it spells out what sort of conditions apply at each spot. For instance, at the Cribbin (named after the retaining wall that runs along the embankment), located between mile poles 220 to 245, the book reports:
"On a west tide one to two hours after the turn, a good rip forms close to shore here. Try below pole 235, at the base of the steps where there is a mussel bed. Toward the end of a dropping west tide, move down to pole 245. This is a great spot to drift an eel after dark."
That's good information, very specific and the product of years of accumulated experience. You could fish the Canal for a long time and not figure out something like that without shedding a lot of lures on the rip rap that litters the bottom of the Big Ditch. The Guide lists Canal guru Dave Laporte among those who contributed local information to the book and if Dave says it's so, you can take that to the bank.
Besides the more well-known locations like the Canal, there are a number of obscure but hot producing sites that go untraveled because they're a bit out of the way. The Knob at Quisset Harbor is one such. Accessible via a trek through the woods across Conservation Commission lands, the Knob sits out at the end of a promontory jutting into Buzzards Bay just around the corner from the Woods Hole channel. It's a great spot to toss plugs and poppers for blues in early summer.
And speaking of Woods Hole, directions are provided to one of my personal favorites, the stone pier behind the marine biological labs, one of the few places on the Cape where shorebound anglers have a legitimate shot at hooking up with bonito or false albacore in the late summer. And for those early season bluefish, few places deliver as well as Popponesset or Oregon beaches on the Cape's south shore. Good maps as well as detailed instructions will bring you right to water's edge side by side with locals who know these shallow water beaches will warm quickly drawing hungry, sharp-choppered, early season arrivals within casting range.
Scorton Creek just east of Sandwich holds winter-over striped bass and serves as a good place to get out of the way when high winds take more exposed beaches out of play. Bone Hill, the outer side of Barnstable Harbor, draws fly fisherman because of shallow, easily waded flats with plenty of drop-offs and channels between the bars. Interspersed with how-to-get-there instructions are useful gear tips, such as this one:
"Whenever possible, tie directly to the lure or use a snap or snap swivel when striper fishing. Steel leaders are unnecessary and in fact may impair the lure's performance. Also, stripers see very well and a steel leader will spook wary fish feeding over a clear sand bottom."
The Guide covers Chatham, Eastham, Truro and Provincetown with stops on both the Bay side and the outer beaches, including: Coast Guard, Head of Meadow and Race Point. There are useful tips about lures, gear and bait, as well as maps and directions on finding good, productive places to catch fish.
Yeah, I'd say this book is a must-have for anyone thinking about fishing from the beach on the Cape and for $14.95 it's one of the true bargains around. Published by the folks at On the Water magazine, it can be obtained at local tackle shops, or via a call (508) 548 - 4705, on the net at www.onthewater.com, or through the ubiquitous marketeers at Amazon .