Fishing the Cape Cod Canal after dark can be a fantastic and sometimes downright spooky undertaking. There’s definitely no scarcity of intriguing characters, critters and bizarre noises across the rip-rap at night. Add a few good Cape Cod Canal ghost stories into the mix (which there are plenty of believe me) and it’s pretty easy to get the heebie jeebies.
Still if you are looking to radically improve your chances of reeling in a colossal bass fishing from shore, then hitting the Cape Cod Canal after dark may well be for you.The Canal starts to crank out big striped bass at night with the entrance of the first keeper-size stripers. Usually by Memorial Day large fish have settled in to the Canal. Most anglers choose to toss topwater plugs in the morning at this time of the year, however many keeper stripers are taken off the bottom after dark.
Late May/early June is when the night bite really turns on. At this point in the young season, night time excursions are often a hit or miss proposition as huge schools of stripers travel via the land cut straight into Cape Cod Bay. To put it another way, it’s possible you’ll hook big fish one evening and then not register a single bite the next. Then as if out of nowhere the next wave of large bass pushes in through Buzzard’s Bay and the night fishing starts to produce once more.
By July the night bite tends to become a bit more dependable. The greater part of the striped bass population has settled into their summertime haunts, which generally makes Canal fishing a touch less hit and miss. It is highly feasible to land significant stripers each night of the week, if of course you can zone in on the most productive fishing spots.
Nearly all of the big bass that are hooked in the evening are taken on bait, jigs and subsurface lures. Pedaling up and down the service road, hunting for surface feeding stripers is obviously out of the equation. Therefore having a solid understanding of the best locations and most productive tides is much more essential when fishing after dark then when fishing during the day.
The majority of big bass caught during the night are taken out of holes, rips and all-around pieces of structure. The same holes, rips and gulleys that produce during the day often produce just as well-if not better-under the cover of darkness. Targeting these areas will considerably improve your odds of tying into a keeper sized striped bass.
Bouncing jigs directly on the bottom in these spots, or swimming a lure or eel through a rip is a reliable means to enticing a big striped bass. Many Cape Cod Canal regulars prefer to fish artificial offerings when the tide is moving, and then switch to live or chunk bait during slack tide. Several of the biggest striped bass ever taken from the Canal have been taken on a chunk of bait fished on the bottom during the course of a night time slack tide.
Subject to what the fish decide to do, September and October at the Cape Cod Canal can be either fantastic or disappointing. If a bio mass of striped bass decides to swim through the Canal during their migration south, then the after dark angling at the Canal will be outstanding. On the other hand if the primary body of fish decides to migrate around the Outer Cape on their southbound trek, then Cape Cod Canal anglers will be out of luck.
However even during slow years fishing the Cape Cod Canal at night for striped bass during the fall can yield many keeper stripers. As always, concentrating on hitting the most productive holes and rips during the most productive tides is the most crucial element for success.
Tight lines and good luck!