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45.7 Pound Striped Bass | June 5 Cape Cod Canal Report

It has been one heck of a morning!

Today began at 2:45AM up in Boston.  I had spent the past few days in Brighton with Lauren, but after hearing about big bass in the Cape Cod Canal I knew I had to get back to the fish.

I was just about the only car on the highway all the way to the bridge which was definitely a nice change of pace.  Finally at around 4:40AM I settled down in my honey hole along the rocks of the Big Ditch.

It felt more like October this morning than June-that is for sure.  Of course after my second cast the sky opened up and began raining.  I watched as the brisk NE breeze blew sheets of rain from east to west down through the Canal.  Of course I had forgotten my rain coat at home.

A Pretty Tough Start To The Trip

After about 5 casts my braided line managed to tie itself into one heck of a killer wind knot.  I had to cut and retie and ended up losing a ton of line.

I completely emptied my spool on the next cast and only saved losing everything by quickly flipping the bail over at the last second.  It wasn't even 5:30AM and I was soaked to the bone, freezing and almost out of fishing line!

Instead of getting all ticked off I made a move, left the Canal and headed back to the barn to grab a coat, a hat and a new spool of line.  Fortunately I had a back up spool ready to go so I wasted minimal time re-rigging.  By 6:15AM I was back on the rocks, waiting for the fish to show.

Problem was there was really no life whatsoever.  No birds, no bait, no one hooked up and no bass on the surface.  I found myself a comfortable rock (if there is such a thing), snuggled into a crevice, and patiently waited for some sign of activity.

I sat there for about 15 minutes.  I remember thinking something along the lines of - "Well I'm guaranteed to not catch a thing with my hook out of the water, so I might as well take a couple casts."

So a couple casts is exactly what I decided to do.  And on my second cast something awesome happened.

A Giant Hole Opened Up And Sucked Down The Plug

I chucked my little homemade, absolutely horrendous looking pencil popper way out into the middle of the Ditch.  The current was running pretty good so I just popped the plug back and forth as it floated downstream.  I was looking at a seagull over to my left when I heard a deafening SMACK!

There was a huge bass on my plug!  The fish had completely missed the popper but I had seen a huge dorsal fin just behind the pencil. I kept twitching the lure back and forth in the current.  Not more than 2 seconds later he came back full force and absolutely engulfed the plug.

My rod doubled over and line began screaming from the reel.  Thank God I had changed out the spool with a full load of braid!  This bass was dumping yards upon yards of braid in an instant.  Without debate I began hustling down the rip-rap after the fish.

I passed by a couple really nice guys, Monty and Kevin on my trek after the fish.  They stopped what they were doing, moved out the way and let me do my thing which was really awesome.  After a couple of minutes the fish had peeled around 150 yards of 40 pound braid and began digging for the bottom in tight to the shore.

It was now or never so I buckled down the drag and began working the bass against the current.  This guy had some serious weight to him and I could feel the fish digging for the bottom.  With all the jagged rocks in the Canal, I figured my best shot was to just horse the striper in and tighten the drag down even more.

I'm not sure how long it took to get the bass in towards shore but I began to gain good line on the fish after buckling down the drag.  The bass surfaced about 15 yards off the shore and rolled on his side, showing Monty, Kevin and I his belly.  Like most of the fish I've seen this year, this bass had some good girth to him and had been feeding well to say the least.

I eased him up towards the rocks and could see the single live bait hook (the kind we use for tuna) embedded in his jaw.  I reached down, grabbed the bass and brought him ashore.

cape cod canal fishing 45.7 pound bass

Man oh man was this guy beefy!  All three of us stood there on the rocks, smiles from ear to ear, admiring this beauty of a bass.

fishing cape cod canal striped bass

I think I was still in shock - good thing I got up off my butt and decided to take a couple casts!

What A Surprise!

The bass literally came out of nowhere.  None of us had seen any signs of life or seen any fish caught.  I must have just been lucky and by chance happened to plop my homemade 1-hook plug directly in front of the fish.

cape cod canal plugging

The bass tipped the scales at 45.7 pounds and close to 47 inches long - hands down one of the biggest (if not the biggest) bass I have ever caught.

Just a few pounds away from the coveted 50!

Photo by John Doble

Photo by John Doble

I decided to give the fish to Monty and Kevin.  They seemed like two real nice guys, plus the bass was bleeding pretty good from the gills.

Big thanks to Monty for some awesome photography work.  Can't beat meeting new friends down on the rip-rap.

I'm still in a bit of shock as I write this.  What an absolutely crazy morning-I can't wait to get back down there.

What do you think? Let me know by commenting below.

Tight lines and take care,


by Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins grew up on the beach, and has been fishing since he was 5. Ryan has great family, friends and fishing experiences to be grateful for. Just being there is enough...catching a few fish is always a bonus!

  1. Ryan is the site server down. I haven’t been able to get on for a week. Glenn. Please respond at Thanks

    1. Hi Glenn! That’s not good! I was not aware of any server problems.

      Do you recall the error message you received when trying to view the site?

      Thanks for the heads up 🙂

  2. Ryan:

    Great story! Very inspirational and I might just get down to the canal and fish again. I am a big eel guy and I have been successful down at the ditch w/ live eels but it must have been so exciting to have that big mama smash your plug. I know how important catch and release is but I’ll bet your buddies really had a feast on her. Tight lines my friend. Rick Barron

    1. Thanks Rick! It was a memorable day.

      Great to hear you’ve had success with eels. Like you mention, seeing that fish take down the topwater plug was quite the sight.

      Catch and release is the name of the game for me with the big boys, but unfortunately that fish was bleeding like crazy and was not going to survive.

      I am sure those guys had a feast though!!!

      Best – Ryan

  3. Greta story, I feel that all the experience in the world can’t beat hitting the fish in the head with your lure. At least that’s what I tell my friends. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time sometimes. Where were you at the ditch? I like to sneak in behind the hockey rink.

    1. Thanks Jack!

      Yes I agree that I just happened to hit that fish on the head with the plug. Right place right time like you mention.

      I was just a bit east of where your like to fish.

  4. Nice story heading out to the railroad bridge in the morning can’t wait!

    1. Nice, how’d you do Paul?

  5. Hey Ryan,

    Nice job on your bass. You are the man!

    1. Thanks Paul! How’s the live mack bite been treating you lately?

      1. Hey Ryan,

        Haven’t been out since right before that stretch of snotty weather. Sounds like I’ve been missing all the tinker mackerel action. Trying to get out tomorrow…

        1. Hey Paul,

          Lots of tinkers out there, bit deeper than usual. There’s UNREAL amounts of macks out around Stellwagen Bank, so it’d be nice if they infiltrated the Bay. That may be asking a lot but you never know it could happen.

          Best of luck if you get out there,


  6. Amazing fish! How far down the rocks did he run you?!?

    1. Hey Brian,

      I’d say he took me a good 40 yards down the rocks before I decided to just lock down the drag and horse him in. Were you able to get out fishing at all last weekend? I think you said you were planning on giving it a shot.

  7. Roughly…where along the canal were you?

    1. Hey Sean,

      Thanks for stopping by. Check your email I just sent you a message.


  8. Unbelievable! Dinner for a week? Congrats

    1. Thanks Ralph! Many nice fish caught by many anglers this week. I’d imagine a few are even bigger than the one I was lucky enough to catch on Tuesday.

  9. Ryan, congrats on the beautiful fish! I’ll have to get down on the canal with you this summer to learn how to properly work a pencil popper. Do you have any rod recommendations? I’ve only seen posts on pricey Lamiglas blanks.

    1. Hey Chris,

      Thanks! Just an awesome surprise to say the least. I’m hearing there also some seriously big bass down just to the south of us, so hopefully they’ll filter through the Canal over the next month. Cross your fingers.

      You should def. check out the Canal this summer while your down for vaca – I think you said you have a place in Eastham? I’m happy to help in any capacity.

      Right now I’m using a 2-piece 11 foot Hurricane (I think, not even 100% sure on the brand) rod that I got from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Pretty good rod for the money.

      I snapped 3 Lamiglas blanks in one season a few years ago. Not sure what I was doing to cause that but I finally decided to try a new rod. So far so good!

  10. Awesome fish. Why the one big hook?

    1. Hey Eric,

      To be honest, it’s really just an old plug that I for some reason only rigged up with one hook.

      But what I’m realizing is that having that one, heavy duty hook is actually pretty good when plugging the Canal. You don’t experience as many gut hooks, or bleeding fish due to foul hooks with trebles.

      Of course I think the hook up ratio goes down significantly, however the bigger bass over 20 pounds seem to get the hook just fine.

      Have you been down to the Canal at all this season?

      Good luck!

      1. I’ve been down a couple of times without any luck. Not really patient enough for canal fishing haha.

      2. I spent many summer nights fishing ” the ditch” Dave, Bill ( Cape Cod Charlies), Andy and sometimes the whole Mt Walley gang would load up in the bed of my dodge pickup. Yes the bed. No seatbelt laws back then. If fish could talk. The foggy mornings waiting for ” slack tide” were awesome. I was also of the school; hook not in the water, you can not catch fish. Pole &@(- was great) 😉 Have fun this summer.

      3. My grand parents owned Eau Clare Rod & Gun. Walleye pike fishing is great. Nothing like the ocean. I have fished From the FL Keys to Monhegan Island Maine. On Monhegan my then adopted 11 yr old hooked a 48″ bass from the dock at sunset. He was playing with the rod. Me, ” Nate, leave it alone if you want to catch and not fish”. Nate, “I thought I had a bite”. Me, ” you have a bite when that pole goes down”. Nate, ok, I just want to hold it”. So, Nate puts the rod between his legs and… I hear a high pich scream. Nate, “My balls”. Me, ” now you have a bite. Set the hook”. Chris ( grew up on the island), ate the beating heart of that fish. My adopted 5 yr old. The next night when fishing, was frozen. He looked at Nate. Sam, ” if I catch a big one, do I have to eat the beating heart”? Nate, ” don’t worry, Chris will eat it for you”.

        1. That’s one hell of a story! I hope he did not suffer any long-term injuries to the groin. That’s actually a pretty common occurrence – had it happen a couple times with tuna, not fun!

          Anyways, that sounds like a real nice memory. Definitely something you won’t be forgetting anytime soon which is what it’s all about.

          Thanks for stopping Cedric by and leaving a couple comments!


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