West End of the Canal

westendmap

Fishing the West end of the Cape Cod Canal can be a super productive spot that can be fished in poor weather conditions when other locations aren’t feasible. 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.  I prefer to fish the west end as part of the spring migration and then again in the late summer and fall when the bonito and albies arrive. In the spring, many adult herring flood into this area to run into the rivers and harbors that line this small section of water.  Following these big baits are even bigger bass. 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.  I prefer to fish farther out towards the flats or the entrance to Buzzards Bay just to avoid the crowds.  The fish are a little more spread out but the crowds are a fraction of what they are by the MMA.

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. It’s common for anglers to chase the breaking fish and birds in this area casting large rubber and big plugs at the hungry bass chasing herring.

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. For those not inclined to cast for their fish, trolling wire line along the slightly deeper west side of the channel produces more than its fair share of fish. If you’re motivated and willing to put in the extra effort, gathering mackerel from Cape Cod Bay and transporting them through the Canal then drifting them along the channel edge is a great way to hang yourself a 40 pound fish amid the schoolies.

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.  This area is also known for producing some “unusual” catches. Cobia, jacks, Spanish and even King Mackerel are surprise catches in this area from time to time.

Casting:  Look for diving birds over the flats indicating feeding stripers, bluefish, or later in the season, false albacore. Use smaller soft plastics, flies, small swimming plugs, small poppers. Work the rocky shores of Mashnee Island, particularly the west (canal) side.

Trolling: Troll along 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.

Drifting/bottom fishing:  Mashnee Flats is one of the premier areas on all of Upper Cape Cod for fluke fishing. Drift rigs baited with squid strips or small baitfish along the canal drop off or bounce small jigs along the bottom over the flats.

  • 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 prevailing southwest wind.
  • Tide Chart: Click Here
  • Marine Weather: Click Here