Pretty much everybody I spoke to said the Canal has been lights out, both in the morning and again in the evening. The dying west current and turn to the east has been the better change of tide for topwater activity, but at times it just seems that the bass are feeding no matter the tide.
Jeff Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore emphasized that while the east end is receiving lots of attention, there are some big fish being caught at the west end as well. For example, the biggest bass they weighed from the east end this morning was 38- pounds, while the top fish from the west was 39-pounds.
As far as what people are using, Jeff said that “green mack is killing it,” and the biggest pencil poppers are the way to go, including the 3.5-ounce Gibbs and Guppy. It’s the same if you prefer to use Magic Swimmers or Stick Shadds: green mackerel. That said, white is still working and the black back-and-silver color Gibbs’ produced a number of the largest fish caught today.
There are some sea herring mixed in with the mackerel and that is one reason the black back/silver combination is effective, while some squid are around and white is typically a good choice when they are around.
At the west end, the primary bait at the moment is pogies; again, the black back/silver is often used when menhaden are around, with yellow another good option. Although pencil poppers are very popular in the Canal, Bruce Miller made a point of emphasizing that when pogies are around, using a Polaris-style plug that makes more noise and throws more water is good imitation of what takes place when a school gets nervous and explodes.
Mike Thomas has been selling dozens of green mackerel Savage Sand Eels; the five-ounce has been preferred by the regulars who typically use beefier rods that can handle that weight, while those with lighter sticks are limited to four-ounce and below and that weight often can’t get down to where the fish are. Mike believes that the slimmer profile of the Savage sinks quicker than the Al Gag’s Whip-it Eel, but you will find folks on both sides when it comes to which jighead/soft plastic combination is most effective.
As happens far more often than folks want, small bluefish moved into the west end this morning and they raised havoc with the plastic lures, sending many anglers to local shops to re-supply.
There are a good number of sea bass being caught around the west end, with scup mixed in as well and some fluke are showing as well.