Tonight was absolutely gorgeous. After the thunderstorms moved through the wind backed right off and the skies cleared. Might as well go fishing.
Instead of targeting big bass on the bottom tonight at the Cape Cod Canal I decided to mix things up and go for numbers instead of size. I rigged up a super light spinning setup with 20 pound braid, grabbed a few super small lures and headed down to the Ditch.
I enjoy targeting the small guys every once in a while, especially considering I’m planning on doing some serious Canal fishing for bigger fish throughout the month of September. If you haven’t heard, the Fisherman Fund tournament begins September 1st.
With $1,000 up for grabs I’ll be logging in at least a few long nights down at the Ditch. All it takes is some good timing and a little bit of luck to make it happen.
If you’d like to learn more about the 2012 Fisherman Fund Tournament you can do so by checking out their webpage – TheFishermanFund.com.
The guys who run the tournament do a lot for the community and for the Canal, which makes signing up for me a no-brainer. Plus there are some pretty spectacular prizes up for grabs just to make things interesting.
Back to the fishing, the Canal is mostly known for bass up to 60 pounds, however during this time of the year there is often a plethora of small fish feeding on the multitude of small bait that inhabits the land cut. Night time is a great time to target these small but extremely aggressive fish.
After a brief walk I scaled the rip-rap and set up shop. As if on cue a small striper broke the surface to my right and another sprayed some bait to my left. Time to start casting, or more appropriately, pitching the small lure 10-20 feet from the rocks.
A lot of the action on small fish at the Cape Cod Canal occurs incredibly close to shore-especially at night. Casting distance is not an issue at all, which is a nice change of pace from those days when the big boys won’t budge from the center of the Canal.
It took a couple casts but I eventually hooked up with a bass that put a nice bend in the freshwater setup – a whopping 16 incher! A quick release later and I got back to casting.
From about 10:30pm to 11:00pm the action was fast and furious. I managed to get a bite every other cast or so, which reminded me of when I was first learning to catch stripers as a kid. Back then I didn’t care how big the fish were, as long as I was seeing some action!
At around 10:45pm I heard a thrashing in the tidal pool to my left. I hustled to release the micro-schoolie I had on the line so I could go check it out. Once I got over there I was very surprised to see a brightly colored 8 inch or so squid stuck in the rocks. Apparently he had chased the small silversides and minnows in a bit too close to shore and stranded himself in just an inch or two of water.
I picked the little guy up, did my best to snap a photo in the darkness and watched him jet away. Man those things are quick in the water. In a heartbeat the squid disappeared out into the Canal.
I’m going to take a guess that the enormous amount of small bait in the Canal is what drew the mackerel and squid into the Ditch in hordes last week. Of course once the bass realized all the macks and squid were feasting in the Ditch, they followed suit and provided some pretty good fishing around the East End for about a week straight.
Maybe we’ll get lucky and the macks and squid will move back into the land cut in numbers over the next few days.
The action on small bass remained pretty good until 11:15pm. Around that time I noticed a big shadow moving in extremely close to shore. At first I couldn’t tell what it was, but after a good look I realized it was a nice sized bass – maybe 34 inches or so.
I chased the fish down the rip-rap but never got a good cast at him. I couldn’t believe how close he came to shore. For a moment he must of been in just inches of water chasing bait, his back nearly exposed. It was a pretty cool sight, especially for a Tuesday night!
Final tally was around a dozen schoolies, with the biggest maybe 20 inches. For a while the action was fast and furious. Despite the small stature of the fish I had a blast.
As mentioned above the schoolie striper fishing at the Canal can be pretty good during late August, especially once the sun goes down. If you’re just looking to catch a fish, and don’t care how big it is, I’d recommend giving the Canal a shot this week after dark. Grab a super light tackle setup, some small lures and head on down.
Click here for more information on the areas fished and how to find schoolies at night at the Cape Cod Canal.
Tight lines and good luck!