The 3 Best Lures for Cape Cod Canal Fishing

If you have fished the Cape Cod Canal for years, then you most likely have developed your own effective techniques using specific lures that you know have worked well for you in the past. There is no shortage of effective lures on the market, with hundreds of different lures and color combinations to choose from.

Many of these lures work very well, and if you’ve fished the Canal for some time, you may have already discovered which lures work best under certain conditions.

However if you are just starting out, I think it is a good idea to keep things as simple as humanly possible. Based on the amount of experience required to catch striped bass at the Canal jigging, fishing eels and chunking bait – I think that if you are a novice, your best bet will be to fish the Canal using lures that either work the mid-water column and/or the top-water column.

In other words, if you are new to the Canal, avoid bouncing jigs and bait along the bottom. You will only make life more frustrating for yourself. Instead, focus on fishing the surface and mid-water column – at least when you are just starting out.

For this section I reached out to Jeff Miller, who’s family owns Canal Bait and Tackle located at 101 Cranberry Highway in Sagamore. Canal Bait is the unofficial “headquarters” for many of the most seasoned and skilled Canal fishermen around.

I don’t know how many 50 pound Canal bass have been weighed in at this shop over the years, but trust me it’s a lot. So needless to say Jeff and his family know a thing or two when it comes to fishing the Canal.

I asked Jeff what he thought were the 3 best lures for rookies to use at the Canal. Here are his top recommendations:

1) The Savage Sand Eel


The Savage Sand Eel caught hundreds of bass this past season at the Canal-making it a sure bet for beginners and seasoned fishermen alike.

One of the most prolific prey items on all of Cape Cod is the sand eel or sand lance. Sand eels/lances are actually not eels at all. They are fish-just fish with an “eel like” appearance.

A variety of predatory fish feed on sand eels off the Cape. Stripers, bluefish and bluefin tuna are 3 of the most well known. Various other fish also won’t think twice about gulping down a sand eel when the opportunity presents itself.

At the Canal sand eels filter in and filter out as they please. Some days the Canal is chock full of them and some days it is not. However sand eels are so common, that most bass seem to have no qualms about hitting a sand eel lure-even if there happens to not be many actual sand eels in the general area.

In the Canal bass can be very opportunistic feeders. As an example, the last keeper I caught from the Canal this November had a lobster in his belly.

According to Jeff, the best technique is to:

“Let it hit the bottom, then a slow-moderate retrieve”

Remember above when I mentioned to avoid fishing the bottom of the Canal if you are just starting out? Well, I still do recommend that, but once you gain some confidence I’d say give Jeff’s technique a try.

Once you do get the hang of fishing the Canal’s bottom, it’s time to start locating hot spots, which you can learn how to do by clicking here.

A Savage Sand Eel bouncing along the bottom is a site that is hard for any size striper to resist! 

2) Tsunami Heavy Shads



The Tsunami deep heavy shad comes in an assortment of colors to match various types of bait fish including mackerel, herring and menhaden.

Big bait attract big bass and that’s the goal of the Tsunami deep heavy shad.  Throughout the season, especially during the spring, big bait fish like herring, mackerel and pogies enter the Cape Cod Canal. On their heels are some of the biggest striped bass the Canal sees all year long.

You can give yourself a good chance of hooking into one of these brutes by using big lures that match big bait.
The Tsunami shad is a good choice because it is heavy and casts better than other shad type lures. It also sinks relatively quickly allowing you to work the mid-water column all the way down to the bottom with ease (unless the current is really ripping).

The life-like appearance of this shad is really just the icing on the cake. Way back on May 1st of this season my buddy Mazzola caught his first keeper of 2012 at the Canal using this lure.

3) Guppy 2 3/8 Oz. White Pencil Popper


Pencil poppers produce phenomenal top water strikes that will leave you shaking in your waders.

Pencil poppers are my favorite lure to use at the Cape Cod Canal. I think most folks would agree that pencil poppers produce amazing top water strikes from massive fish year in and year out.

This is exactly what happened this past season. Way back in May of 2012 I happened to stumble upon some behemoth bass as they migrated eastward through the Canal. Myself and many other Canal fishermen managed bass up to 45 pounds that week – you can read more about that epic week by clicking here.

Pencil poppers are also good because they cast like a rocket. Some guys at the Canal possess the ability to launch pencils half way across the Ditch-if not farther. Now that is quite the heave!

I didn’t even have to mention pencil poppers to Jeff for him to recommend pencils as one of the top 3 lures for the Canal. To be more specific, Jeff highly recommended the Guppy 2 and 3/8 ounce white pencil popper.  According to Jeff this pencil is:

“The most sold and used plug”

Enough said.

With pencil poppers the best retrieve at the Canal is usually a steady, slow to moderate “walk the dog” type action. The popper should zig and zag back and forth across the surface of the Canal. You’ll know when you have a hit.

Take care and tight lines,

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