UPDATE: Mike Thomas reported that the Canal went off around 7 AM this morning, a couple of days earlier than some folks thought it would with the breaking tides starting on Monday. There is a ton of peanut bunker in the Canal and the fish were right up against the shoreline, with anglers who were wading covered in baby pogies. There was a very active topwater bite and a number of lures worked – as long as they were white. Fish moved into both ends of the Canal during the east current, with the quality better at the east end with the average fish in the mid-20-pound class, although a number of 40-pound fish were caught.
Mike added that friends of his worked the west entrance to the Canal last evening looking for false albacore; they managed to catch on albie, but also picked up 20 bass – with only one below 28-inches. The fish were willing to hit pretty much anything they threw, including SP Minnows, topwater plugs, and Epoxy Jigs. Today, one of Mike’s friends came in and cleaned him out of silver and black/silver Epoxy Jigs, which should give you a good idea of the hottest lure.
Other than the diehards who go out every day, the amount of activity in the Big Ditch is slower this week, particularly during the day. There has been a mid-morning topwater bite, but it has consisted of mainly smaller bass, advised Bruce Miller; there is an incredible mix of bait in the Canal, from peanut bunker to baby herring, silversides to sand eels, and even some butterfish, squid, and adult pogies along with the major large bait, that being mackerel, and the key to where the action is best is to find the schools of bait. The Cribbin’, the herring run, the fishing pier, and the east end on both sides have all had good action from time-to-time.
Most, if not all, larger bass this week during the day have been caught by folks bucktailing or jigging sand eel jigs as they are hugging the bottom. White bucktails with red pork rind are a Canal staple and it is very important to carry different weights to deal with the speed of the currents and the depth of the holes you are fishing.
Pearl/white artificials are popular as they do a good job imitating a number of baitfish, while colors such as blue or green are hot when the fish gang up on the mackerel. If the macks are particularly thick, as they might be during the breaking tides next week, then pink or more exotic mackerel imitations such as the Guppy Wacky Mac or those that stand out such as their Fluorescent Yellow are worth carrying.
Bruce joked that the albies are messing everything up in the Canal, but they are providing another challenge as they have been running from the west end all the way up to the east end at times. Your typical funny fish metals in the larger sizes to gain distance have been working, but the larger size Epoxy Jigs in bone, olive, silver, and pink have been really catching on with the rats. The end of the west tide and the early stages of the east after the turn have been providing flyrodders a shot as the albies from the mud flats at Bell Road.
Starting Monday, a new set of breaking tides begins and that is what many folks are saving up their energy for. Sunday is the full moon and combined with the early morning east turn this could very well be one of the best sets of the tides this fall.