This is part #1 of a two part series on fluke fishing in the Canal. Check out part #2 about the best locations by clicking here.
For the shore bound angler on the Cape Cod Canal, one alternative to summer’s annual dog-day fishing doldrums is fluke fishing.
Given the right set of conditions, fluke fishing from shore can be an enjoyable and productive fair-weather summertime activity.
Gear & Tackle
When fluke fishing from the shoreline of the canal, most pre-tied fluke rigs you can purchase in any tackle shop will suffice.
But even if you tie your own, the key to many successful landings is using off-set fluke hooks, which provide a proper hook-set on those soft flatfish mouths.
If you’re fishing with a fluke rig and find that you’re consistently missing on short takes, try using smaller flounder hooks.
Using the proper size weight is vital to fluke fishing success in the canal.
Depending on the stage of the tide and the current, 2, 3, 4 and even 5-ounce sinkers, used in conjunction with a sliding “fishfinder” rig, allow the bait to get down deep along the bottom.
Hitting bottom in the strong currents of the canal is essential.
I’ve always been a loyal proponent of using braided line when fishing in the Big Ditch, and fluke fishing is no exception.
Braided line allows you to use thinner diameters, which cause less drag in the current, thus helping to get your bait straight to the bottom.
The sensitivity of braid is unmatched. When used in conjunction with a light to medium saltwater bait-casting or spinning outfit, you can feel any subtle takes that fluke are known for.
By adding a mono leader, you’ll have the added stealth and stretch needed to keep from ripping the hook from the fluke's soft mouth tissue during battle.
As with most other fishing applications, fresh bait is always better than frozen. A variety of natural baits such as clams, squid, sand eels, and live chubs will work in most places.
White colored pork rind or thinly cut strips of herring, pogy, or even fluke bellies themselves (thin strips cut from the white underside of a fluke) will also work. For the best chance at success try to match the natural forage of the area you are fishing.
The unmatched, universal bait of choice during the height of summer in the Cape Cod Canal is fresh sand eels.
This opinion is shared by many experienced, salt-encrusted canal veterans and has proven effective year in and year out. When filleting canal fluke I often find them loaded with sand eels.
To learn more about sand eels and how to acquire them, check out the post below by Ryan and longtime MFCC member "Frank Zappa."
The bait-fishing technique for fluke in the canal involves casting and drift/bouncing the bait along the bottom with the current, swinging it into holes, over sand bars and around soft structure.
For every solid bump you feel, set the hook. As the rig approaches the end of the drift, be sure to begin a fast retrieve to keep it from hanging up in the rocks at the channel’s edge.
The most active time for catching fluke in the canal is usually 1 to 2 hours on either side of slack tide.
This is mainly dependent on your ability to hold bottom and adjust your location adjacent to where groups of fish may hold position as the tide and current change.
Sometimes you'll even land a few schoolie stripers in the process!
If the tide is at or near slack, no more than 2-ounces of weight is really necessary. As the current picks up, increase the size of the weight accordingly. If you are not bouncing along the bottom you are not catching fish.
Once you get that first hit, take note of the exact position where the bite occurred relative to the drift. I cannot overstate how important this is.
Once the fish are located, chances are that will be the exact spot where you’ll receive multiple takes, providing you can drift your bait over it consistently.
If you put in your time to sufficiently learn how a given location reacts with the changing tide and current, you can catch fluke during all hours of the day.
Check out part #2 about the best Canal locations for catching fluke by clicking here.
What do you think? Let me know by commenting below.
John D. Silva is an award winning outdoor writer and photographer with over 45 years of experience fishing inland and coastal waters in the United States and Canada. An active member in the New England Outdoor Writer’s Association, he has published feature articles, columns and photos in a variety of popular outdoor publications, including On the Water Magazine, N. Carolina Sportsman, Eastern Fly Fishing, Sporting Classics, Coastal Angler, and The Fisherman magazine among others.