There’s nowhere quite like the Canal, where on any given trip, 30-plus-pound stripers could be smashing mackerel around your ankles or slurping squid at the very end of your longest cast.
For the latter scenario, a long-casting topwater, like the OutCast Lures Long Caster Pencil Popper, can help deliver a big profile to those middle-of-the-ditch bass.
Of course, on some days, those distant stripers want smaller baits, and under those conditions, a more compact pencil, like the Left Hook Raptor, will go the distance and trigger the bite with its subtle walking action.
Canal stripers aren’t always on the surface; they spend a lot of time in the ditch hanging just above the bottom. To get them to bite, it’s tough to beat the simplicity of a paddletail swimbait, like the FishLab Mad Eel. Built with a heavy jighead, sturdy hook, and long, slender profile, just get this lure to the bottom, and let the Canal current, and that tail, do the rest.
Sometimes, the bass hunker down out of reach of heavy plastics, so these conditions call for a Canal classic metal lure, like the Crippled Herring.
This wide-profile metal launches far, sinks fast, and has a seductive flutter on a lift-and-drop retrieve that is killer on Canal stripers.
Speaking of classics, the rise of paddletail jigs has made many anglers forget about the effectiveness of a well-fished straight-tail plastic, like the Slug-Go. Glue a 9-inch Lunker City Slug-Go to a 4-ounce jighead and bounce it right over a drop-off or into a hole, where a big striper will be waiting to ambush it.
When schools of bass pin large schools of bait to the rocks, a big swimming plug, like the Sebile Magic Swimmer, is often needed to carve one away from the herd. This double-jointed lure swims true at any speed—just be sure to have a good grip on your rod for when a bass latches on.
The second half of the Sebile Lures duo that took the Canal by storm in the early 2010s is the Sebile Stick Shadd. The popularity—and temporary scarcity—of this lure spurred the current craze for large glidebaits among surfcasters. The Stick Shadd works best at slower stages of the tide, with deliberate sweeps of the rod, followed by pauses.