One April day I ventured off 6A to West Brewster and Lower Mill Pond, a pine-girt pool that turns a gristmill as it feeds Stony Brook. But on that day cars clogged the usually serene roadside. Dozens of Tom Sawyers and Becky Thatchers frolicked in shoeless abandon, pants rolled to the knees, dip nets thrashing Stony Brook fôr fish. Spring, I learned, is the time when millions of instinctdriven alewives, a kind of herring, leave the sea to struggle upstream and spawn in the freshwater ponds where they began life.
“I got one! I got one!” screamed a freckled and utterly delighted 6-yeax-old as he snared a herring with bare hands. Slipping down the bank, another young fisherman fell headlong into the creek, emerged unhurt, and found two writhing fish in his net! Parents shucked their shoes and joined in. Two gray-haired dowagers approached the brook and recaptured a bit of their youth as they witnessed againdoubtless as they had for decades—Cape Cod’s watery rite of spring.
The herring, salted and dried, once provided a windfall food source to economically depressed Cape Codders. Even in this century, children on 6A hawked “sticks” of a dozen fish for a dime. Today town law stil] grants each Brewster citizen the right to harvest a bushel of alewives a week, but few take advantage of that privilege.”They’re trash fish,” one old-timer told me with disgust. “So full of bones I’d as soon eat a whiskbroom.”
No matter. The Cape has plenty of tasty alternatives within easy reach: oysters, bay scallops, lobsters, and clams. Offshore, toward the vast submarine shelf of Georges Bank, lurk schools of herring, haddock, and the cod from which the Cape takes its naine. For nearly four centuries these fish have filled the holds of vessels from many nations. But now the great catches dwindle; locals lay the blame on the foreign ships, especially the Soviets’. It’s worth trying all of these delicacies while being on a vacation in Cape Cod. You shouldn’t miss an opportunity which payday loans online gives.
“Cape Codders use hooks or large-mesh nets,” Chatham fisherman Fred Horton told me. “Using book and line never hurts the fish population; a small fish won’t go for a big hook. But the Russian trawlers net everything, big and small. They corne in for herring —that’s our bait, what the cod feed on. If we don’t have herring, our way of life dies.”
I met Fred in the Chatham Squire, favorite pub of the boisterous younger fishermen. Walk in on these shaggy-maned, burly men and it’s easy to assume they appreciate only beer and roughhousing. But in truth theylike Chatham’s more conservative fishermen —harbor a huge, unabashed love for the sea. “The ocean’s the most powerful thing in the world,” one of them told me. “It changes every day. It’s primeval; it’s the great mother. Man, there’s nothing other than fishing!”