Reprinted from The Cape Codder, June 17, 2005
For those who think the best fishing on Cape Cod, happens on its outermost shores, Orleans resident Peter Budryk's new book, "The Innermost Waters: Fishing Cape Cod's Ponds and Lakes" reveals what insiders know is the best kept secret on Cape Cod – that some of the best angler action happens far away from the crowds on the peaceful shores of freshwater ponds and lakes. Chock full of photos of expert and amateur fishermen (and women), that avid local fishermen will recognize from around the pond, "The Innermost Waters" is a beautifully written and incredibly extensive guide that is a must-have resource for every freshwater fisherman who lives on or visits Cape Cod.
Each chapter (called casts) contains detailed information, tips and lore that fishermen will gobble up hook, line and sinker because every "cast" results in a catch of the kind of expertise that takes years to accumulate. Topics range from explanations of the difference between ponds and lakes to how to catch trophy fish to how to take care of the ponds for future use. Individual chapters detail each kind of fish that can be caught on Cape and tips ,on how to catch them.
While it would be tempting to think this is a book just for guys, Budryk has fished long enough to know it is an equal opportunity sport. He includes a chapter written by "woman angler" Liz Warner that details the specific concerns women who fish have, including the occasionally loutish behavior of men who fish.
For the younger set, the chapter titled "Fishing Cape Cod With Guppies" is the perfect guide to introducing children to the fine art of fishing and reveals Budryk's teaching skills and keen observations during the years he taught his three children and five grandchildren.
The book also contains maps for 75 ponds with information about the size, depth, location, access and special regulations in addition to comments and tips from a panel of experts who have fished there. A bonus feature is a web site where readers can get weekly updates on both freshwater and saltwater fishing.
Budryk, who has also written "Trout and Salmon Lakes of Connecticut, and How to Fish Them," decided to write a book about freshwater fishing on Cape Cod because none had ever been written before, a surprising fact considering the multitude of freshwater ponds and lakes that contain both large quantity and large-sized fish.
"Very few people are aware of how many ponds and lakes there are on Cape Cod. It can be daunting," Budryk says, explaining that there are 994 lakes and ponds documented by the Cape Cod Commission in its pond and lake atlas and well over 150 of them are worth-while for fishing.
Budryk offers two reasons for this slight. "I think in part freshwater fishing has been overshadowed by the world class saltwater fishing. People come here from all over to go saltwater fishing. And second because the locals have kept it a well guarded secret over the years," he says. "Fishermen have a reputation for keeping things close to their chest. They'd rather give up their first-born child than have someone steal their favorite fishing spot."
Even though Budryk has extensively fished the Cape's ponds and lakes himself for more than 35 years, in writing his book, he decided to defer to the wisdom of master fisherman and writer Zane Grey who wrote, "One fisherman may have keener eyes than another, but no one fisherman's observations is enough."
With that in mind, rather than relying on just his own experiences, he decided to draw from the collective experience of other fishermen.
"I contacted 15 people that I knew of and that were acquaintances of mine, who were both professional fishermen and high intensity, amateur fishermen. In talking with them they all had this reluctance about sharing it, mostly because they were concerned that the yahoos were going to plunder it," he says.
"But in the end they all agreed it was some-thing that was worth sharing and should be shared, in part because the fresh waters on the Cape are in danger in one way or another and this might be a way to heighten awareness of it." Budryk explains that Cape Cod offers one of the most spectacular fresh water fishing experiences in the Northeast due to its geography. "Because it's a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic, it is dominated more by the Atlantic's moderating temperatures, and just as they say you can play golf year-round on the Cape, all things considered, so you can fish year-round on Cape on open water."
That geography combined with the prevalence of herring in many of the ponds that are connected by channels built by the Native Americans create the ideal conditions for fish to thrive.
"The channels create rivers and streams into chains of lakes on the Cape and that's like setting up candy stores in all of them for the fish. The trout, the bass, the pickerel, the perch, they grow to enormous size in part because they have this ready source of protein easily captured and just swarming through the lakes in the spring, summer and fall.
"It's been documented by the Mass Fish and Wildlife that the fish in Cape Cod ponds and lakes grow to far larger sizes because they have this source of food, the herring, and because they are able to feed on them for a longer period during the year. When the lakes freeze over very quickly, a lot of fish go into a semi-hibernation stage. Their metabolism slows down, they only occasionally eat, and they're not very active. But on the Cape they keep feeding and feeding and feeding and feeding, well after Thanksgiving. That makes bigger fish."
But Budryk is. the first to admit that even the best equipment, bait and information doesn't guarantee a catch. "It's serendipitous. You have to be there at the right time. Fishing is all about intersections. You're there and the fish are there and you present them with something and if you intersect, you're going to get them," he says.
A love for writing and the outdoors
Budryk credits his teachers at Cambridge High and Latin School for instilling his love of writing. After college, he returned to the school to teach English, until he was recruited by Wesleyan University to work as a lecturer in education.
At Wesleyan, he also served as director of Upward Bound, a college preparatory program for lower income, at risk kids who showed potential. While there, he founded and served as executive director of Wesleyan's Great Hollow Wilderness School, an outdoor education resource center that taught students survival skills in order to show them how to take responsibility for their own lives.
Budryk is currently working in collaboration with Roy Leyva, the Mass Wildlife Angler of the Year in 2004, to create a library of 25 small, affordable books on each of the different species of fish that can be caught in the Northeast.
"I enjoy being analytical and observational about my fishing," he said. "I'm always taking notes either mentally or on paper about my fishing experiences as a way to share them." Many happy fishermen will be glad he did.
8.5” x 11” paperback
illustrated, with maps