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The Epic 2017 Fishing Season @ the Cape Cod Canal

Ryan Collins

The most epic Cape Cod Canal striped bass fishing season in recent memory began in 2017 during the second week of May.

It started with news of a mammoth 60+ pound striper which was caught somewhere in Buzzard’s Bay. Soon that school of trophy-size fish swam north, passing Mass Maritime Academy and entering the canal’s landcut.

It was difficult to keep the news from getting out. Members here on My Fishing Cape Cod may of gotten an early jump on the action, but it was just a matter of one or two days until photos of huge fish and crazy topwater blitzes filled the newsfeeds of people’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.


The first big push of fish stuck around for maybe a week, before exiting the canal as suddenly as they showed up. Where the fish went next is a bit of a mystery, but my guess is that at least a portion of that magnificent school spent the next week feeding in the deep water between Barnstable Harbor and Billingsgate Shoal, before once again disappearing to “who knows where.”

For the canal rats, it was not long until another big school of migratory bass appeared in the Cape Cod Canal. This next school was even larger than the first, and they would soon enter into a somewhat “predictable” pattern, as they settled into the canal for what was virtually the entire summer.

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  1. I can’t believe you think it will happen again. Old timers were saying this is the best it’s ever been.
    I think and hope it was a once in a lifetime type of summer at the canal.
    It turned into such a =%:_show striper slaughter.
    I’m hoping for a normal season this year.

    1. I agree Craig, a “normal” season this year would be great. Last year it was as if the bass were just sacrificing themselves. I’d rather not see the slaughter happen two years in a row, but for some reason I just have a feeling it’s going to be very good again. We’ll see what happens soon enough, spring is coming…

      1. If it happens again I hope we can get a stronger EPO presence there. I know they have limited officers to cover a lot of ground, but what happened down there last year was obscene. So much high grading and taking too many. I did start to finally see a bigger presence on the service road by the end of August but the damage was done. Not to mention the flotilla parked just outside the east end.

        1. Agreed. The EPO’s could of had a field day down there last year. However they did make some good busts, which is encouraging.

  2. If there’s consistent bait.. then perhaps there will be extended opportunities again this year. No bait? No bass. They’re not up in New England to catch some rays and do a little light beach reading: summer is their growth season and they need to eat regularly.

    At least in early August, the mackerel were in the canal blitzing on huge shoals of tiny baby menhaden. Macks went crazy on those things. Whitewater. Perhaps another reason mackerel stayed so long last year was the lack of any significant bluefish schools to scatter them off. ..Though I dont know why their reaction to 10lb bluefish would be “panic and scatter,” and yet they stayed while being pounded and beaten up by 30lb bass, for weeks

    1. Yeah you nailed it. Just look at what happened after Tropical Storm Jose. The mackerel moved back out to Stellwagen and the stripers disappeared. Just like you say, no bait = no bass.

      I have also wondered about the old saying that mackerel will scatter when bluefish show up, but then it’s as if they don’t mind being gobbled down by 30 pound stripers. Go figure!

  3. It was truly epic. From what I saw, though, I don’t think the schools made it as far as the Sagamore bridge. Also, from what I heard, fishing was light throughout the entire Lower Cape for most of the summer, including the usual schools of blues that usually frequent the beaches. Can’t wait for this summer!

    1. Yes it sure seemed like the canal was the epi-center of the biomass this past summer. Who knows what will happen this year.

      Hope you and the fam are having a good start to 2018 Dave! Tight lines ~


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