Seven years ago this July Fourth I was a 20 year old kid with a big decision to make. Should I go to the Plymouth waterfront and watch the fireworks, or fish the Cape Cod Canal? It was a perfectly flat calm and clear evening which made the decision fairly easy. I called my buddies and told them I was going fishing.
My first Canal fishing spot of the evening was a little hole towards the East End of the Canal, right by the Scusset Beach fish pier.
I made one cast and was instantly inundated with mosquitoes, no-see-ums, gnats and every other bug under the Cape Cod sun. Of course I did not have any bug spray so I had no other choice but to evacuate the area.
However the bugs would end up being a big-time blessing in disguise.
Amazingly all the local stores were sold out of bug spray. My only option was to drive to a general store by the West End of the Canal, and hope they still had some in stock. Thankfully this store still had spray on the shelves, and since I was already at the West End I figured I might as well take a few casts down this direction.
I headed to a hole in between the Railroad Bridge and the Bourne Bridge and took a cast. I let the Slug-Go plummet to the bottom and once I felt the tap of the lead head against a rock I began the retrieve. Slowly I let the jig fall and then gradually lifted it again off the bottom. I pictured the jig rising and falling as the current swept it along the rock and mussel laden bottom.
Halfway through the retrieve I had a major take. The fish bit as the jig was falling, so I had to quickly reel in the slack before setting the hook. As the line got tight I leaned back and the rod doubled over under the strain of a strong bass.
The fish dug into the ebbing current and took off towards Buzzards Bay. I took off as well down the rip-rap, following the big bass and taking no unnecessary chances. Finally 50 or so yards down the rocks I eased the striper into the shallows. It's big belly reflected what little moonlight there was, and I could tell right away that this was a 30 pound fish.
I followed the same procedure for the rest of the west tide. Most of the bass were in the 25 pound class with a couple 30's and one exceptionally fat fish I believe would have weighed in the low 40 pound class, had I decided to keep and weigh him.
Thank God for the bugs!
I called my buddies the next day to tell them the news. At the time Go Pro Cameras were not yet invented, so I had no actual proof or physical documentation of the fish. Thankfully they believed me. I suppose they could still hear the excitement in my voice.
This experience was just one of numerous July Cape Cod Canal fishing trips that I will never forget. If you plan on fishing the Canal this July Fourth weekend, then I think that you too will have a shot at recreating a trip like the one described above. Granted of course you are OK dealing with some bugs and missing out on the fireworks.
Cape Cod Canal Fishing during Early July
Over my lifetime, I have had my best success on big fish during the first two weeks of July. I believe the Canal gets one last good push of migrating big fish sometime from July 1st through July 15th. After mid-July my catches of big bass at the Big Ditch drop off big time.
Said another way, now is the time to go if you can. Right now there is a large biomass of substantial size stripers to the south of Cape Cod off Rhode Island. One would imagine that at least some of these huge fish will be moving north through the Canal now through mid-July.
Yet most of these fish will move through undetected. The surface activity that is common during the spring will more than likely quiet down. These big bass will swim through the land cut along the bottom, often during the depths of a dark night.
For the most part, anglers who will catch big fish over the next couple of weeks will be fishing right along the bottom. If you want to hook a good fish, then I think you should be working the bottom too.
Tackling a Cow | Equipment for Working the Bottom
The first step to tackling a cow at the Canal this July is to get setup with the proper gear and equipment. As always I like to keep things as simple as possible.
I use the same equipment for jigging the bottom as I use for plugging the top. You can check out the specific kind of gear I like to use by viewing the below video.
Fooling a Cow | How to Jig the Canal 101
Once you are setup with the right gear, the next step is to learn how to jig. The concept of jigging is very simple, however I will admit that it takes some practice to conquer the learning curve.
In this next video I outline a simple jigging technique which ought to help.
Fighting Fish | How to Pull a Big Bass off the Bottom
In certain areas of the Canal the bottom is very rocky and unforgiving. In these types of spots you may have to buckle down and pull a fish up off the bottom. If you don't, there is a chance that the bass will bury you in the rocks resulting in a snapped line.
In other areas however, the bottom may be sandy and more forgiving. In these spots you can play a fish out and take your time.
The areas I was jigging last night however were very rocky. Using the technique described in the below video is pretty necessary in areas where bass routinely snap lines, by rubbing line on the bottom.
As mentioned in the above video, if you are fishing a sandy area with a more forgiving bottom, then it can pay to play the fish out. Especially with a large bass, I don't think there's any point to horsing the fish in unless you have to.
But if you are fishing a rocky area, keep in mind that a big bass may very well try to bury you in the rocks.
Cape Cod Canal Fishing Report | July 1st
This post outlines exactly how I was fishing last night at the Cape Cod Canal. I put in a serious effort, fishing from 7pm until 2:30AM.
To read last night's Cape Cod Canal fishing report, click on the button below.
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Fishing the Canal soon? Click here for the latest Cape Cod Canal fishing report.
Have a great start to your July, tight lines and take care,