Catch date:8/7/2017 2:49:00 AM
Story date:10/8/2017 7:54:00 PM
Location:Cape Cod Canal MA
This was my third season fishing the Canal and I must say like many can say it was the best summer I have ever had. I learn so much each trip I make to the Canal. I can recall my first trip like it was just yesterday. I had just finished an annual bottom fishing trip with the FEM men’s fellowship on the Monomoy out of Hyanniss, and I could not just go back home with the men. I had to satisfy the call from the ditch to fish it. I just couldn’t come all this way to pass it up. I caught zero fish that season on the Canal but I enjoyed fishing the ditch enough to keep trying…boy am I glad I kept coming back!
Once the doldrums began on Long Island that was my que to start my season at the ditch. I like many others were a bit surprised when the fish arrived one month sooner than they normally do. I couldn’t change my “planned” three trips for the season to head up to meet/enjoy the good fishing that followed. My thought was good at least I know the fish are there already, they would be around for a while so no need to rush up there, and the next moon accompanied with the negative tide should make them bite pretty good…like clockwork that sunrise was a mad house! That was the first top water bite I was able to see with my own eyes, and catch fish…small fish but hey a catch is a catch.
My second planned trip to the Canal I was on a mission commissioned by my friend Steve to catch fish with two of his homemade jigs (4, and 6oz.) in a sexy blurple pattern that I just knew would catch me a few slobs. I lost them both on the bottom but not before I caught a four-foot shark that had us all fooled into thinking I had a nice bass slam Steve’s 4oz jig…I lost it to the bottom near the rail road bride before I went home but that’s a part of jigging. On the same trip many anglers were hooking up just about every cast with the slow sinking Ghostescent Sebile Magic Swimmer. I had one last season however, I fished it hard in NYC, and hung it on one of my favorite hard structures I like to fish…I almost cried losing a $30 plug. This trip I just had to have another one fast! Troy and I made one trip to Red Top, and we both were now armed with Magic Swimmers. The next morning the conditions were not favorable for me to feel comfortable to cast that plug…high crosswinds, and fish breaking in the middle called for the Northbar Squid pencil. That is what I caught a scrappy 8-10lbs fish on. I couldn’t even get a photo of the pretty fish because my phone was dead. Troy on the other hand decided to go against the grain/present something other than a pencil like the rest of us at pole twenty to cast his chrome/mackerel pattern Magic Swimmer…a massive Striper slammed it hard, and then mangled his line taking his only Magic Swimmer. That was the second large fish of this trip to pop his 50lbs line after almost spooling his Zeebaas 25. I lost a few good fish right next to him that night…the fish were wining.
My next trip to the Canal was a solo trip. I say this often “I like a buddy/company while fishing but I don’t NEED company to fish” I was dealing with a lot of life’s curve balls, and I just needed to fish so I could have something fresh on my mind to make myself usefully towards something I’m getting better at. I went off the grid to fish the ditch…no internet or phone service for two days. Just my bike, rods, plug bags, and food for two meals with Gatorade. I can sometimes think much better as a fisherman on the hunt for Stripers when alone. If I have no one to disagree with, complaining to me about fishing too long, and just get me off my original game plan I tend to enjoy fishing the more fish or not…this trip was one of those times when it all came together. From start to finish it was planned like a swat team on a search and destroy mission. I had done some research/spying on a particular spot I seen a video made from that was posted to You Tube over the last offseason that I just had to fish. I planned to fish that location the same time of year, time of day, same tide, and I already had the plug used in the massacre. I felt like I have done my homework when the person that made, and posted the video showed up to fish…all I could do was silently thank him, and enjoy the confirmation that I’m in the right spot. I didn’t catch there on that day. I took note of a few key factors, and made the small adjustments to catch the next morning.
I showed up early to make sure I was in an acceptable position, and to eat my breakfast before I started fishing. I was able to catch three good fish (21,33, and 25lbs) the biggest being my personal best (43.5”, 33lbs, 22.5” girth) and my first 30lbs class surf caught fish. Those fish were hitting the magic swimmer just like grate whites feeding on seals doing full body breaches. (coming out of the water, and splashing down) Each fishing would pull me off the rock I was perched on (Montauk style) I fish with my drag locked for a good hookset when the position I’m in allows me to, and when massive fish are around. I back down my drag when the fish is in close, and to adjust to the size of the fish to allow the drag to do what it was designed to do. On the previous day, and this day I saw too many guys loose fish on the hook up or during the fight. From what I observed it was either they would not set the hook at the “right time” or they had a loose drag.
Jason had a theory that made since. He mentioned because of the way these fish are hitting the plug their mouths were still open until they splashed down into the water, and that’s when you should cross hers, and her mother’s eyes. That’s a tricky thing to “time” when watching a 30 plus class fish come clear out of the water for your plug. I preferred to just watch the fish hit my plug, and let the 42lbs of drag on my VS250LB set the hook…these fish had no problems peeling line off my spool, and the current only made that much more enjoyable. Jason said “I’m voting you for best action videos. No one gets pulled off that rock like you do” I didn’t lose any fish in that spot so I took it as my method worked! From that point on I decided I would only fish that plug while on the Canal just so that I could have it to use when I was there because ONLY those that had it were catching nice fish. The satisfaction of that accomplishment was priceless. The many cars, and folks along the 30 plus minutes bike ride back to my truck was an added pat on the back. That was a good testament to the kind fishing community Massachusetts possess…I wish I get that at home! I called it a trip but not before taking a few photos, I am very fond of (a nice fish strapped to the basket of my bike. Like the beard I grow during my fishing season I guess it’s the cave man in me) for some reason, and loading my fish in my Boone cooler for the ride home.
The next trip was fueled by the Eclipse. I couldn’t fish after the moon because my wife’s birthday was dead on the moon so I had to be home. I enjoyed the fish I caught on the front side of the eclipse jigging up 13-26lbs fish with AL Gags whip it fish (this was also the first in two seasons trying that I was able to catch fish with that jig…they did not want my bucktail/Fat cow jig strips this season for me) and the 4oz. heavy shads during a sideways downpour of rain, 20 mph plus wind in my face, and a light show (lightening) that seem to flash the same time I take a cast. I would normally sit that condition out but I only had six more hours to fish, and the fish were biting good enough to keep my mind off what could happen…fish on every cast would do the same for many but not all. However, it does not compare to the best fishing in 50 years as many has said. The Eclipse, hurricane close by, herring, bunker, breaking tides, and abundance of Mackerel feeding on peanut bunker all added up to big fish hitting Magic swimmers (that is the best mackerel/adult bunker bait to use in my opinion. At nine inches it plays well into that rule of thumb “big bait’s catch big fish”) or whatever was thrown at them. I felt horrible missing out on the best fishing in the history of the Canal as I know it but that’s how it goes sometimes. I can’t catch all the good bites. I had to be content with the good fishing I was able to enjoy on the front side of the Eclipse.
What should’ve been my second to last trip out of the three “planned” trip to the Canal turned out to be my last trip of the season…several of my obligations fell on the weekend I planned to spend three day’s fishing the ditch as a last Hurrah! Troy, V, and I represented NYC in a big way on the Canal that weekend. It was a day of personal best fish for many of us. I started it off catching a twin to my last personal best…I just had to record myself releasing a 33lbs fish for the first time. Troy caught his personal best 36lbs fish a quick photo, and that fish was released. Jamie even caught his personal best 41lbs beast of a fish…that fish was almost as tall as he is, and V caught plenty fish as well. His personal best is a 50lbs monster from 2015 so he needed to work real hard to PB that trip…even though a guy did catch a 54lbs fish on video this year on the Canal, and the day I caught my first 33lbs fish I heard a 52lbs fish came up so they are out there to catch if you can. Later, that day good fishing continued. The water clarity was something I never saw. I was able to sight fish multiple 13-28lbs fish using the Magic swimmer. I even had Troy record me releasing a nice, and healthy 25lbs fish just to show a good way to properly revive, and release a breeder back to where she belongs. I have a problem with watching “floaters” just go to waste drifting in the fast current. If you are not keeping the fish please take the time to make sure the fish is in good condition before you release them back to the water…you will catch more fish it only takes a few moments if done correctly.
In all this was my best season fishing the Canal. I don’t plan on stopping. I’ve alrea