OTW TV – Canal Mackerel Blitz – Part 1

We’ve been trying to film a Cape Cod Canal episode of On The Water TV for years. Since the canal is such a unique place, we wanted to include some history on the subject as well as a couple different fishing components. One aspect of the fishing we hoped to capture was one of the blitzes that takes place in the canal when the current change from west to east coincides with sun up, creating what canal regulars know as “breaking tides.”

Under these conditions, particularly when they happen during exceptionally strong currents brought on by the new or full moon, stripers will feed on the surface well into the morning, taking advantage of any baitfish that may be trapped in the canal.

As you might imagine, being at the right place at the right time with a camera and crew when one of these blitzes goes off is easier said than done, but the stars aligned and we hit things just right this past Friday.

With “breaking tides” forecasted for Wednesday, June 1 to Friday, June 3, OTW TV cameraman Matt and I were determined to capture to bite on film.

After a decent bite on Wednesday, Matt joined me on Thursday morning not far from the Herring Run on the Mainland Side. Dense fog made filming conditions tough, but I was still confident we’d be able to catch more than enough big stripers to make for a great show.

Bad visibility, lots of anglers and few fish made shooting tough on Thursday, June 2. (photo by Andy Nabreski)

I was wrong. A few scattered breaks and some smallish fish moving by was the only excitement we had on Thursday. I told Matt I’d be going again on Friday if he wanted to tag along with a rod and a camera just in case, but he opted out.

From the start, Friday looked like it was going to be a better day.  I secured a place on the rocks, again near the Herring Run, sometime around 3:30 and was rigged and ready to go. My buddies Dave Ross climbed down the rocks to my left and Chris Parisi of Bad Fish Outfitters in Falmouth took up a cast positions 10 yard to my right.

Right at first light, a single mackerel zipped past, heading east. That was more big bait then I’d seen all of the previous day, so I was thrilled to see it, and hoped he’d brought along a couple thousand of his compatriots.

By 5:00 fish began popping was out in front of us, but they were picky. I cycled through my pencil poppers twice, trying every size and color in my bag. A guy to our left hooked up on a Kastmaster, and it was a mad scramble through the surf bag to see if I’d had the foresight to pack one along. Kastmasters and other metals are dead ringers for the small sea herring that we could spot skipping across the surface before being devoured by a hungry bass. Dave Ross was the only member of our group with a metal and he hooked up immediately with a fish in the 20-pound class. Not long after that, Chris persuaded a couple fish to swipe at his pencil popper. I switched from my G. Loomis IMX surf that I use to throw the heavier canal plugs and jigs to my CTS 10-foot 2- to 4.25 parabolic rod. The rod is incredibly light, and despite its rating, still throws 1-ounce lures a long way (look for a review on it here later this season). I clipped on a Daiwa SP Salt Pro Minnow (which I bought after reading Ron Powers’ LOTM column on it) and began working a current seam hoping to pick off something.

A river of mackerel being chased down the canal on Friday, June 3. (Photo by Andy Nabreski)

To our right, anglers began shouting, and I looked down to see a mass of nervous water making its way along the rip-rap towards my feet. Mackerel, thousands of them, had been pushed tight to the rocks by schools of big stripers. I could plainly see good-sized bass charging through the schools and picking off macks.  It was so amazing to see, I almost forgot to cast. Almost.

Continued in Part 2.

6 on “OTW TV – Canal Mackerel Blitz – Part 1

  1. mike mackenzie

    the canal is great I cant wait for this years blitz. we camp and fish . I hooked into a tuna there last year .stripped my reel out in mins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.