The Big Ditch continues to be overrun with small striped bass, from the west end to the east end and in between.
The two major baits that the bass are feeding on right now are herring, both river herring (alewives) and sea herring. Bruce Miller added that some squid are also showing up, making white a hot color for plugs. With the water in the Canal still around the high 40’s, Bruce suspects that there really won’t be much of a topwater bite, with most folks going with deep diving swimmers, both jointed and single piece. Some of the more interesting plugs are those that feature three or four pieces and no swimming lip, but instead drop in a horizontal orientation through the water column and have snaky action, with a characteristic curl and change of direction when given a quick snap.
Then again, many Canal regulars opt for Daiwa SP Minnows as their top choice when trying imitate the herring that hang close to the shore.
The largest fish that Bruce weighed in on Thursday morning’s tide was 13.5-pounds from the West End, but there are larger bass staging and pushing bait around the west entrance to the Canal.
Mike Thomas reported that a 40-inch bass was caught this week by one of the cadets from the Maritime Academy and he knows of a 26-pound fish that was caught from the east end. There are good numbers of mackerel outside the east entrance to the Canal, making plugs that sport some sort of mackerel coloration a Canal favorite.
Perhaps no company makes more variations featuring the black, vertically oriented wavy lines that Guppy Lures, including traditional green, as well as Fluorescent Yellow, Wacky Mackerel, Dirty Mackerel, and Ghost Mackerel. Mike’s suggestion is that some folks are using plugs that are too large for the size of the fish.
Soft plastics in a variety of sizes and rigged on weighted swimbait hooks or jigheads have been especially productive, with the paddletail style that features internal weighting a top choice in white or pogy.
There are some good sized tautog up to the eight-pound class off of the Maritime Academy, as well as a few winter flounder from the east end. A good suggestion is to make sure you drag your sinker through the bottom, thereby creating a chum line of sea life hiding in the mud that will attract any fish in the area.