45 posts in this topic

23 hours ago, Sandbar1 said:

A refresher on canal etiquette.

 

In the last year or so I’ve had the good luck to fish the canal regularly and heavily. I'm definitely no expert on fishing the canal. The canal is certainly a steep learning curve, from  gear to the tactics to fighting a fish. Its truly a unique and important part of the East Coast striper fishery. Its also constantly discussed.

 

Unfortunately one of the most important topics regarding fishing the canal often gets overlooked. How to behave along the banks of the ditch. How do we fish it ethically.

 

Most everyone knows that the canal experienced outstanding fishing in 2017; almost anyone lucky enough to fish the ditch was rewarded with fast action and big fish. Unfortunately as good fishing will do it attracted a certain free-for-all attitude among some individuals. 2017 reminded us all that we need to appreciate our ability to fish this unique spot. This means fishing morally, ethically and legally.

 

Sharing the canal- When you’re on the canal your sharing it with others, fisherman, boaters and members of the public all use the canal. Remember this!

 

Proper spacing - Don't crowd people. At the canal spaces are first come first serve. If you want a certain spot get to it early, if someone's already there move along. When there's plenty of room you shouldn't setup right up next to guys already fishing. Normally a pole away is a safe distance from your neighbor.

If you’re dealing with crowds and want to fit into an area consider asking politely. Manners can still go a long way. Whatever you do don't mug a spot, expect others to respect your space and respect theirs in turn.

 

If worst comes to worst and a spot gets crowded pack up and move elsewhere along the canal. The fish move, you can to.

 

Casting order - Time your casts. Casting order dictates that you wait until the guy down current from you makes his cast before making yours. You should also wait until your neighbor has retrieved his plug in at least halfway before making a cast. Respecting casting order is important. When done right it allows anglers to fish even when close together. When done wrong it results in crossed lines and angry people.

Whatever you do, if a blitz starts, DON'T be the guy casting over others heads from the service road or higher up the bank, this is both rude, stupid and dangerous and there’s simply no need for it.

 

Tactics - In a crowd you're going to have to follow others approach. If everyone is jigging throw a jig, if they're plugging, throw plugs. This prevents different tactics conflicting with each other. It also means that if you got 20 guys throwing surface plugs, don’t think it’s alright to set up in the middle of them and start deadsticking a chunk.

 

Fighting a fish - When someone hooks up its common courtesy to stop casting until they have their fish under control.

This also means that as the guy fighting the fish it's your job to fight it effectively and land it quickly. This means fishing with appropriately heavy tackle and a tight drag.

 

Lights - Ok, the light conversation. Not much gets guys angrier along the ditch than bright lights shined on the water and in people's eyes. When you’re out fishing at night a light can be a great tool, it can also be a PITA for others around you. You don't need a 1000 lumen white spotlight on the ditch. A red light will give you all the visibility you need while preserving your night vision and not pissing off your neighbors. And whatever you do, please don't be the guy who shines his headlamp on the water and into the eyes of every guy he passes. It's just not necessary.

 

Pedestrians - Whenever you’re fishing the canal you’re sharing it with other members of the public. Sure at night there might not be many people but during the day the service road is shared with bikers, joggers, dog walkers and kids.

This means you need to be careful and thoughtful. Look behind you before you cast, keep your canal cruiser and gear off of the service road and don't cast from the road during period of traffic. Also remember a group of fisherman on bikes can easily block the road. If you want to stand around with your bikes and talk then by all means do so, just keep the road open and free.

Again a little common sense goes a long way.

 

Keeping it clean - We are lucky to have such a unique place to fish. In turn it's our job to keep it clean. The old camping adage “if you pack it in, pack it out” applies to the canal. This means cleaning up your empty lure packages, line, Dunkin cups and whatever else you have. This also means that we need to try an avoid covering the service road in blood, scales and leftover bait. This is just unnecessary and leads to complaints. While you’re at it, it doesn't hurt to pick up some of the trash left by others. In the end it's better for everyone.

 

Parking - Use some common sense when parking, if it's not a parking spot you probably shouldn't be parking there. That's how complaints begin and how we eventually all lose access.

 

Spot Burning - Ok, I get it, fishing the canal is no secret. People from Virginia to Maine make the trek every year to get in on the action. And that's a good thing. It's a resource for us all to enjoy.

That said, do you really need to plaster reports, pictures, and pole numbers all over social media? Do you need to walk into the nearest tackle shop and tell anyone who will listen about your mornings “monsta”? Button your lip, it's better for everyone.

 

Following the laws - Before you hit the canal make sure you understand Massachusetts fishing regulations. This means understanding striper size and bag limits and purchasing a saltwater fishing license. All this can be easily and quickly obtained online.

 

Poachers - Simple enough, DON'T poach. If you see someone poaching or suspect them of poaching the best course of action is to call the mass EPO’s (environmental police) and make a report. Confronting guys often won't end well for anyone.

EPO Dispatch # (800) 632-8075

 

Protecting the resources - This means understanding that striped bass aren't an unlimited resource. It's time that we start working to protect them. This means releasing many of our fish correctly and safely. Certainly you won't be faulted for keeping a fish for the table but catch and release needs be practiced with more frequency along the canal. Ethical catch and release means landing a fish quickly, handling it safely and reviving it if necessary.

Its also important to understand that the trophy bass are also the population’s breeders. A picture and a quick release is worth more to the species than another dead 50 on a scale.

 

The simplest thing to remember when on the canal, common sense. We all have it to some extent. Use it. Be a good guy, be ethical, be smart, be safe and have fun.

This is by no means a static or complete set of rules. More can be added and updated to make everyone's experiences fun and productive along the ditch.

 

And just remember “there's no fish in the ditch”

 

Good luck and Tight lines in 2018.

My advice to you would be to strictly fish at night. can avoid the crowds almost completely while still catching quality fish. Some people can be a headache but it comes with the territory.

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6 hours ago, msabella17 said:

My advice to you would be to strictly fish at night. can avoid the crowds almost completely while still catching quality fish. Some people can be a headache but it comes with the territory.

Not bad advice, this past year I fished 4 or 5 nights a week for most of the season. I agree its always nicer fishing alone in the dark however sometimes a first light plugging trip is worth it.

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20 mins ago, HanoverStriper said:

Good stuff. It's only going to be worse next season after this past year. 

 

Your probably right.  While I enjoyed the berserk blitz fishing, I wouldn't mind a couple of years of average canal fishng.  I don't mind working for fish.  The internet warriors need to be thinned out.

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4 hours ago, Sandbar1 said:

Not bad advice, this past year I fished 4 or 5 nights a week for most of the season. I agree its always nicer fishing alone in the dark however sometimes a first light plugging trip is worth it.

Ya I don’t mind the crowds, fish through the night into the morning. Even after a successful night it’s hard to leave knowing the fish could be rolling on top for hours to come

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Proper spacing - Don't crowd people. At the canal spaces are first come first serve. If you want a certain spot get to it early, if someone's already there move along. When there's plenty of room you shouldn't setup right up next to guys already fishing. Normally a pole away is a safe distance from your neighbor.

If you’re dealing with crowds and want to fit into an area consider asking politely. Manners can still go a long way. Whatever you do don't mug a spot, expect others to respect your space and respect theirs in turn.

 

 

Glad this came up cause I had a situation last year that I have been wondering about: this was in mid-June just about daybreak. I walk along and see an open space to fish. Theres a guy to my right about 20 yards and a guy to my left with a kid about 30 yards. Canal current is moving from my left to right. Guy to my left is using a pencil popper and I have an SP on. So i wait till his line drifts in close and he starts reeling, then I cast. Next thing I know I have his line. So he reels it up and I apologize and he says no problem. So I wanna try to avoid this problem so next time I wait till he casts and I cast same time and more to my right. After about 3 casts I have his line again. This time he says "you're killin me". Ok so at this point I just decide to take a seat and watch for awhile and see what the problem is? So I'm watching this guy and what he's doing is he's casting way out there with the pencil but not reeling in at all. He just lets it drift and gives it an occasional twitch. Lets it drift all the way in close, then reels it up a few feet and lets it hang a bit, then a few more feet and so on. Now I see why this space was wide open when I got there. How can you fish downstream from this guy? While I'm watching, the guy who is 20 yards to my right catches his line. Now the guy on my left is pissed off and goes up to the service road and sits on a chair grumbling. I certainly did not intend to ruin anybody's day. So my question is..... did I crowd this guy?......or what should I have done? .......or should he have changed tactics a little considering the growing number of fishermen? If I hadn't taken that spot someone else surely would've. In fact another guy came along and squeezed in between me and the guy 20 yards to my right. What's the proper canal etiquette?

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1 hour ago, Redneck Tourist said:

Proper spacing - Don't crowd people. At the canal spaces are first come first serve. If you want a certain spot get to it early, if someone's already there move along. When there's plenty of room you shouldn't setup right up next to guys already fishing. Normally a pole away is a safe distance from your neighbor.

If you’re dealing with crowds and want to fit into an area consider asking politely. Manners can still go a long way. Whatever you do don't mug a spot, expect others to respect your space and respect theirs in turn.

 

 

Glad this came up cause I had a situation last year that I have been wondering about: this was in mid-June just about daybreak. I walk along and see an open space to fish. Theres a guy to my right about 20 yards and a guy to my left with a kid about 30 yards. Canal current is moving from my left to right. Guy to my left is using a pencil popper and I have an SP on. So i wait till his line drifts in close and he starts reeling, then I cast. Next thing I know I have his line. So he reels it up and I apologize and he says no problem. So I wanna try to avoid this problem so next time I wait till he casts and I cast same time and more to my right. After about 3 casts I have his line again. This time he says "you're killin me". Ok so at this point I just decide to take a seat and watch for awhile and see what the problem is? So I'm watching this guy and what he's doing is he's casting way out there with the pencil but not reeling in at all. He just lets it drift and gives it an occasional twitch. Lets it drift all the way in close, then reels it up a few feet and lets it hang a bit, then a few more feet and so on. Now I see why this space was wide open when I got there. How can you fish downstream from this guy? While I'm watching, the guy who is 20 yards to my right catches his line. Now the guy on my left is pissed off and goes up to the service road and sits on a chair grumbling. I certainly did not intend to ruin anybody's day. So my question is..... did I crowd this guy?......or what should I have done? .......or should he have changed tactics a little considering the growing number of fishermen? If I hadn't taken that spot someone else surely would've. In fact another guy came along and squeezed in between me and the guy 20 yards to my right. What's the proper canal etiquette?

 

The only way that would work is if you fish the same way HE is fishing, which if you're going to squeeze in that close, is what you have to do. 

 

 If you want to throw an SP minnow or some other subsurface  lure you're going to cast and retrieve, you should have gone UP current from him.   Your lure is down below his then even if you're straight down current without reeling in you won't snag him.    

 

Actually, another way it could work is if YOU cast first since your offering probably won't fly as far and will dig down subsurface.   Wait for him to reel up and then cast straight out.    The problem here is that you will wind up waiting a long time between casts.... but now you must also deal with the guy to your right since you squeezed in there.

 

Fishing in close really only works great when everyone is fishing the same way with similar offerings.

 

 

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1 hour ago, pogie_boy said:

 

The only way that would work is if you fish the same way HE is fishing, which if you're going to squeeze in that close, is what you have to do. 

 

 If you want to throw an SP minnow or some other subsurface  lure you're going to cast and retrieve, you should have gone UP current from him.   Your lure is down below his then even if you're straight down current without reeling in you won't snag him.    

 

Actually, another way it could work is if YOU cast first since your offering probably won't fly as far and will dig down subsurface.   Wait for him to reel up and then cast straight out.    The problem here is that you will wind up waiting a long time between casts.... but now you must also deal with the guy to your right since you squeezed in there.

 

Fishing in close really only works great when everyone is fishing the same way with similar offerings.

 

 

Thanks for that info. Much appreciated. I didn't realize I was "squeezing" in with that much open space, but I guess the guy to my left felt crowded. The OP in this thread suggests a pole distance between fishermen, but I'm not sure how far apart the poles are? I'm a truck driver so I just use the length of my rig as a rough measurement. My truck hooked to a '53 trailer is a bit over 20 yards long, so the guy to my right was about a truck length away, and the guy to my left was about 1 1/2 truck length. When I stepped in there I took note of what the guy to my left was using, but I did not take into account how he was using it. After watching him awhile I realized his method must be very effective. Most guys I see using pencils cast out and reel back in immediately, but this guy was keeping his lure out there in front of the fish for a much longer period of time per each cast. I definately learned something by watching him and I'll be giving that a try next chance I get, but in my case, hopefully nobody downstream from me.

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2 hours ago, pogie_boy said:

 

The only way that would work is if you fish the same way HE is fishing, which if you're going to squeeze in that close, is what you have to do. 

 

 If you want to throw an SP minnow or some other subsurface  lure you're going to cast and retrieve, you should have gone UP current from him.   Your lure is down below his then even if you're straight down current without reeling in you won't snag him.    

 

Actually, another way it could work is if YOU cast first since your offering probably won't fly as far and will dig down subsurface.   Wait for him to reel up and then cast straight out.    The problem here is that you will wind up waiting a long time between casts.... but now you must also deal with the guy to your right since you squeezed in there.

 

Fishing in close really only works great when everyone is fishing the same way with similar offerings.

 

 

All good points and sometimes all it is timing between those already fishing and you . When every one is casting the same lure it is a much better scenario as well. Different weights and or if you are on top and they are throwing jigs you will have problems as well. Had you made a cast right away when the other person was retrieving his lure, you may have been fine , who knows unless you see the total picture .

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Maybe just find another place to fish............You really don't have to worry about "etiquette" when you are all alone on a beach..... 

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40 mins ago, Redneck Tourist said:

Thanks for that info. Much appreciated. I didn't realize I was "squeezing" in with that much open space, but I guess the guy to my left felt crowded. The OP in this thread suggests a pole distance between fishermen, but I'm not sure how far apart the poles are? I'm a truck driver so I just use the length of my rig as a rough measurement. My truck hooked to a '53 trailer is a bit over 20 yards long, so the guy to my right was about a truck length away, and the guy to my left was about 1 1/2 truck length. When I stepped in there I took note of what the guy to my left was using, but I did not take into account how he was using it. After watching him awhile I realized his method must be very effective. Most guys I see using pencils cast out and reel back in immediately, but this guy was keeping his lure out there in front of the fish for a much longer period of time per each cast. I definately learned something by watching him and I'll be giving that a try next chance I get, but in my case, hopefully nobody downstream from me.

First off I find the pole distance as a good rule of thumb but not a definite measurement. When I jig at night, which is what most of my canal fishing consists of there are far fewer people there. At these times I will always try to have at least a poles distance between me and the next closest guy both up current and down current. Its well worth it for the ability to make long drifts and presentations with a jig as well as for the peace and quite.

During times when the canal is crowded "combat fishing" takes effect. To be effective this means casting in a proper rotation. Guy down current casts first, then the next guy in line makes his cast and so on. This also means that guys should be making similar presentations. If everyone's throwing swimmers throw swimmers, if its top water throw a top water. Here's where courtesy and respect come in. Done right you can have a group of guys fishing in tight conditions without so much as a crossed line. Done wrong you have a one way trip to tangle city.

I personally had the good fortune to fish with the same group of guys in the same location for most of the breaking tides this year. Everyone respected each other, respected casting rotation and we never had a problem.

 

As for the pencil popper I like to keep it moving, cast it out up current an keep it splashing to draw attention. I use a pencil as a way to target fish actively feeding on the surface. I cast to rising fish, work it until its out of there range and then reel it in quickly to cast to the next fish. The guy letting the pencil work down current seems as if he was "jigging" it. I wont say it doesn't work but I have no experience fishing a pencil in this fashion.

One thing I find is that I don't use a pencil as a "search" lure. I use a pencil to target fish actively feeding on the surface. If I don't see fish actively rising I'll throw a Polaris style popper for its ability to draw attention or a subsurface swimmer.

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8 mins ago, robc22 said:

Maybe just find another place to fish............You really don't have to worry about "etiquette" when you are all alone on a beach..... 

I try to do this to. After a week on the canal I get burnt out and find myself alone at night on a jetty throwing eels or on a beach chunking some baits.

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