The lures themselves are a subject of fascination in their own right. You could spend a lifetime collecting them, such are the countless models available, but some lend themselves to canal fishing much better than others. Aside from the bigger ship canals, you will rarely find much need for artificials that sink or dive to vast depths.
Good old-fashioned favourites still have their place on the towpath. Spinners, with their deadly combination of pulse and flash, will always catch predatory fish, although line twist can be a problem, so where possible, I prefer to go for in-line models where the body stays constant as opposed to twisting the line. Spoons can be equally good and I’ve had a lot of pike on traditional models, which offer a seductive swerve and flash with a simple, steady turn of the reel. You can experiment with different sizes for these lures depending on species, but one deadly and underused trick for perch is to tip the hook with a worm, which is ideal for converting following fish into takers.
Cape Cod Canal Fishing Map Photo Gallery
One advantage of single hook jigs is that they tend to avoid trouble with snags. If you do get snagged however, one handy trick is to ‘ping the lure free. This is done by keeping the line tight, pointing the rod at the snag and making a quick, firm pluck with a finger on the line. You might need to tighten or clamp down on the drag to do this. It takes a certain knack, but will often bounce your lure free. Walking a few yards to reverse the angle can also help to free snagged lures.
Plugs also retain a certain charm and effectiveness for canal fishing. Floating, shallow-diving plugs can be excellent on smaller canals especially. Cast tight to cover, or along the margins, these kick up a stir and are much loved by jack pike. I also have great faith in one or two variants of the standard, traditional wooden plug. Models with internal rattles are well worth a look if the water in your local Cut is seldom very clear. Jointed plugs are also great catchers and the modern, multisectioned versions are excellent. Quality jointed plugs are especially invaluable in winter, where their extra wiggle allows the angler to fish them more slowly if the pike are feeling cold and lethargic.
A small, single hook jig tempted this typical canal zander. These are brilliant, allround lures.
DOES COLOUR MATTER?
While it is only one part of the puzzle, the colour of your lure can be an important consideration. Subtle, realistic-looking lures are the natural choice for clear water. Brighter hues cut through the murk however, and I also believe a large, loud offering can bring out the aggressive side of lethargic pike. Every rule can be broken, but it is up to you to find out what works on the day.