The challenge right now in the Canal, according to Jeff Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle, is being able to reach the fish. The Walmart specials that were catching fish when they were right at people’s feet last season won’t cut it when the stripers are holding in the middle of the Big Ditch.
Jeff said the yellow Gibbs’ Canal Specials have been a top producer this week as many of the squid that the shop has been getting from local sources have been off color, kind of yellow, which is common when they are stressed out from attempting to avoid being eaten, Jeff told me. White is a must have as well.
The topwater activity has been a morning affair for an hour or two, with the east end enjoying some of the best action, although Jeff added that folks working from the skating rink to the west end have been picking up some quality bass on the west current.
There has also been an evening flurry of topwater fishing, with the west current seeing some large fish pushing mackerel from Pole 20 to the fish pier.
White Magic Swimmers are not a distance plug due to their multi-jointed construction, but at those times when the fish have moved a bit closer this week, the Canal crew has been doing well on them.
Paddletail jigs are definitely effective at those stages of the tide when there are no fish showing, but it takes dedication to commit to this technique, as well as experience in getting a jig to the bottom or whatever level that the bass are holding at without getting hung up and adding to the collection of lead that paves the bottom of the Ditch.
Mark Marshall at Red Top told me that there has been a large concentration of anglers around the skating rink, hoping for a surface flurry as the fish push by on the west drop, but quite often resorting to jigging bucktails and any number of soft plastic/jig head combinations.
If you haven’t heard, Okuma will no longer be repping Savage come July 1, which will mean that any hopes that more Sand Eels will be coming into the country again this year will fade to black. There are other options, with the Miller clan at Canal Bait having come up with their version of the SSE that they are marketing as the Canal Sand Eel. Al Gag’s, Bill Hurley’s, and Joe Baggs’ will catch, but the unique construction and balance of the Savage has proven to be the most effective, most of the regulars will tell you, at dealing with the Canal’s currents.
Mike Thomas at M & D’s in Wareham has had reports of good numbers of larger bass coming from the west end as well, with the west tide drawing fish all the way to Bell Road. A 48-pound bass was caught around the west end this week, but a much larger percentage of Canal rats are releasing their fish, no matter how large they are.