Catching Choggies at the Canal

At first glance the Cape Cod Canal may not seem like your typical family friendly fishing environment.  Strong currents, jagged rocks and an unforgiving Canal bottom can understandly seem a bit overwhelming for new anglers.

However the Canal is a phenomenal spot for the rookie fishermen in your life, if you take them to the right spots with the right gear and bait.  It’s very possible to get the kids in on some fast fishing with small fish, while you target the bigger stripers that roam the land cut.

For kids, the Canal boasts plenty of small and plentiful fish that are easy to catch.  The most commonly caught fish species is referred to as the choggie, bait stealer, or perch.  These are small, brown colored fish that eat pretty much whatever you put in front of them.

Two of the best areas along the Canal to catch choggies is the Scusset Beach fish pier and the bulkhead at the Sandwich Marina.

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Growing up I always had bettter success fishing during the low stages of the tide.  A low slack tide is ideal for both the Sandwich bulkhead (which is just a local term for the Canal area around the Sandwich Marina) and the Scusset fish pier.

A light tackle spinning outfit more suitable for freshwater fishing is best for catching choggies.  Simply tie on the smallest hook you can find and attach a weight heavy enough to reach bottom (1 ounce is usually plenty when the tide is slack).  As mentioned before these fish eat pretty much everything, but I remember having my best success using small bits of mackerel belly.

Mackerel belly is durable and stays on the hook well.  Other baits like seaworms are easily torn from the hook by the choggies.  Clam bellies also work.

Drop the hook, line, bait and sinker to the bottom, close the bail and reel the bait up a foot or two.  You should be able to see the choggies swarming around the bait.  Sometimes the closer you position the bait to the side of the Canal the better.  No need to cast out far, simply drop the rig straight down into a few feet of water.

Choggies have a very sublte bite that will feel like the slightest tap.  Hooking them can be quite the challenge!  Once you hook a decent size choggie you may be surprised by how well they fight.

Aside from choggies some of the other species you may catch using this method include small pollock, flounder, lobsters and crabs-all exciting stuff when you are still in the single digit age category.

Good luck and go get ‘em!

Ryan