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Winter can't freeze out the deep-sea anglers.

While most anglers are looking for hard water or sitting by the fireplace now, a small number of winter intrepids leaving shore from Rhode Island are having plenty of action and filling coolers with pollock, red hake and especially cod.

The France Fleet and Seven B's V out of Point Judith, and the Island Current Fleet out of Snug Harbor have been venturing out whenever weather permits to Coxes Ledge, a current honey hole about halfway between Block Island and Martha's Vineyard. This is party boat time -- if you can handle the cold, spray, worms, and the very real possibility that your trip plans can be cancelled overnight because of bad weather.

Worms? One T&G reader asked about cod fillets having worms. The fact of the matter is, they do! Naturally.

The ones we buy in a store may well have had the prominently visible ones removed. But the process is more of an aesthetic and marketing issue rather than a health concern if the fish are sufficiently cooked.

Tufts University's infectious disease guru, Dr. Sam Telford, knows these mostly harmless parasites well. The Anisakid nematodes are commonly known as codworm or sealworm. "Eating uncooked or undercooked cod ceviche, fermented cod fish, or raw cod liver can result in a serious belly ache -- and, on rare occasions, the parasites can actually perforate a gut. But cooking neutralizes them.''

As the name suggests, seals are the main host of this family of parasites, and Massachusetts is hosting unprecedented numbers of them now. In the future, we can reasonably expect more of the parasites to show up in our fish.

Anisakiasis, the disease they infect us with, was incorrectly thought to be spread by only freshwater fish the way tapeworms were commonly spread from homemade gefilte fish. But we now know that marine fish can harbor such parasites and pass them to us when eaten raw. Freezing fish briefly can kill those parasites. That's why all our sushi and sashimi restaurants prophylactically freeze all the raw fish they serve us.

So, if you bring home a cooler of cod, you really have little need to worry as long as you cook or freeze your freeze fish before eating them.

Bass, perch are hitting

Good numbers of calico bass are being taken from Webster Lake, and reports of smelt are also coming in from Onota Lake. Hopedale Pond has been giving up plenty of yellow perch.

A pike weighing 23 pounds was reported from East Brimfield Reservoir. Many of the biggest pike are allegedly being taken on suckers. Lake Chauncey has been producing pike, too. The Sudbury and Concord rivers, according to my son, have been good as well.

The Cape trout ponds, though, have proven erratic. You need to check up-to-the-minute conditions, as ponds and lakes are freezing and thawing with frustrating regularity. What we need now is a big stocking of salmon on Comet Pond. A late allotment of 30 fish seems hardly adequate for that popular water.

Bitter cold, ice and fast, high water have made the Oswego and Salmon rivers of New York periodically very dangerous, if not impossible, to fish. Egg-sac casting shore fishermen have been frustrated casting to the many steelheads there. Check your weather forecasts ahead of time. If you can hire a drift boat guide on the next calm, warm day, the fishing will probably be explosive. As rainbows get into spawning mode, they should provide some epic fishing.

Record ice carp

We may have a new ice fishing record carp. Andrew Plumridge caught the 32-pound, 2-ounce monster in the Housatonic River. I'm not sure any hole I normally drill would be big enough to pull through a fish that big. Plumridge, like an increasing number of anglers, released his carp alive.

Late bow-hunting season

The Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing and Trapping is a free publication having all the essential abstracts sportsmen need. The 2014 publication is outstanding in its format and wealth of information. But the bow-hunting season dates published in it have aroused the displeasure of several local archers who don't understand why we will have yet another late start to our autumn bow-hunting season.

One T&G reader lamented, "We used to have the season start around Oct. 15 -- and even earlier -- but for the last few years, it's been getting later and later.'' The season won't open until Oct. 20 this year. MassWildlife's Bill Davis explained the rationale behind the late opening.

"Opening day of the bow season all depends on the date of Thanksgiving in any given year. Count back six weeks from the Monday after Thanksgiving (the opening day of shotgun season) and that's the beginning of the bow season,'' he said.

In years with a late Thanksgiving, like 2013 and 2014, the bow season opens later. When Thanksgiving occurs earlier, our bow season starts earlier. Davis says, "To get a consistently earlier opening day, the state's Wildlife Board would have to either set a specific starting date, or extend the season from six weeks to seven or more.''

Local archers, this writer included, would have no problem with the latter alternative.

Contact Mark Blazis

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 21, 2014
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