West End of the Cape Cod Canal #459
The “West End Of The Canal” is a wide area located in Upper Buzzards Bay which consists of Dry Ledge, Mashnee Flats, and the open water surrounding the entrance channel to the Cape Cod Canal. The nearest boat ramp is located at Taylor Point n Buzzards Bay. The West End of the Canal extends from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy out to the end of Wings Neck and Stoney Point Dike. No fishing is allowed east of the MMA (per the Army Corps), and they actively patrol this area and will issue citations. While Buzzard’s Bay is often associated with rough fishing conditions, particularly in the afternoon, this area is great in a pinch in that you can “put in” nearby and stay relatively protected.
I associate the West End as a top spot in the early Spring and again in the Fall. The water is so shallow and sandy, it gets warm quickly and is home to some serious boat traffic in peak season. Each year, the first big keepers seem to be caught here, including this 62lb Monster caught by Jeff Fortin. He tried for over an hour to revive this fish but sadly it didn’t make it. Those who know Jeff know that this guy tried harder than almost anyone you can think of. The west end is also home to some great early season groundfish with a mixed bag of monster scup, sea bass, and tog.
Tips to get started:
1. The bass will pin the bait along the steep dredged edges of the Canal channel. There are areas along the Mashnee Flats where the water will go from 3-4’ to 40’ in a matter of feet. Working these sharp drop-offs can produce some monster bass in the early season. Hog Island Channel is a choke point that funnels massive amounts of bass through an area that’s only a few hundred feet across. That many fish in such a confined space really enhances your odds of hooking up. That said, the tight confines combined with large commercial shipping traffic and easy access for very small boats can make this area a crowded and potentially dangerous location to fish. In this video were letting the birds find the stripers for us and using small baits to target schoolie stripers before the larger stripers arrived.
2. In the spring, many adult herring and pogies flood into this area to run into the rivers and harbors that line this area. Following these big baits are even bigger bass. One super effective technique to target this fish is to through large Top Water Plugs in the flats, effectively blind casting for these big fish. In this video with Captain Rob Lowell of Cape Cod Offshore, we were making long drifts and throwing large plugs and blowing but big stripers. Either tide can fish well in this area but since the water is very cold in Cape Cod Bay early in the season, the cold west running tide can really slow things up in this area. Once the wet tide mixes with the main body of Buzzards Bay, the effect is greatly reduced.
3. Seabass Stack up in upper Buzzards Bay, AKA “The West End” In the video, Capt. George and I targeted large sea bass by making long large drifts over structure near Cleveland’s Ledge. Skipping the messy bait in his brand-new Regulator 28, we cleaned up on Hogy Squinnow and Heavy Minnow Jigs. Still one of my favorite ways to fish!
4. Tog On The Rock Piles: Upper Buzzards Bay/West end is the home to some fantastic tog fishing! In this Video, we anchored on a rock pile and dropped crabs for tog. What this video may not show is that we hit a bunch of spots before we found them! This was a few years ago, before we had the Hogy Jig Biki rigs so we fished cut crabs rigged on naked hooks. Today, I would run the same very play but with my teaser-tipped “Jig Biki” Rigs
5. Later in the summer this area holds loads of small school bass and small sand eel imitations are a sure thing almost every morning until the boat traffic puts the fish down.
6. Troll along with the drop off on the west side of the flat next to the Cape Cod Canal channel with lead core line and deep swimming plugs, or weighted soft plastics on braid or light line. Work over water depths of 10 – 20 feet and do NOT troll in the main channel. Check out this technique I used in Woods Hole a few years ago. The West End is a perfect place to troll a couple of Hogy Perfect Tubes WITH THE CURRENT on lead-core or with a trolling weight.
7. Once the water warms to a point late in the season where the bass have moved away, this area still holds a ton of small bait. The juvi herring, P-nut bunker, and sand eels are a feast for the fast-swimming tunoids that invade the Cape late in the summer and into the fall. The same principles apply to the albies as they do to the bass. Work the choke points and the channel edges for the fast movers. Small epoxy, metal, and rubber jigs cast into the surface feeding tunoids can produce smoking reels and screaming drags.
- Approximate Lat & Long (Flats Area): 41°42.5’ N, 70°38.5’ W
- Best tide: Incoming in the spring (east); outgoing in the summer and fall (west).
- Hazards: Few but heavy boat traffic in adjacent Cape Cod Canal channel. Large, standing waves in the channel when strong west tide is against the prevailing southwest wind.