I fish a canal in NW Cape Coral. I use lures and live bait, but few Bass are biting. Any suggestions?

Dear Captain "
I fish a canal in NW Cape Coral. I use lures and live bait, but few Bass are biting. Any suggestions? "

Hi Debbie,

Here are a few ideas to help fish in your canal. First, does your canal have a tidal change, such as low tide and high tide? If it does, you have to take advantage at times when the tidal current is the most productive for the type of fish you're targeting.

Here is an example: If you were fishing for snook, they like good moving water because it creates more oxygen, keeps the water cooler, moves more baitfish around, and forms helpful eddies around any structure. Eddies are ambush points that snook use to hunt prey. The moving tidal current is like a biological clock for the snook to say -- hey -- it's time to eat! So snook love moving water.

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Now each month we have a full moon and a new moon. A few days before and after the full and new moons we have excellent tidal currents as they are affected by the gravitational cycles of the moon. These are the bests days to fish the canal for them. Also during the day that you are fishing, you're most likely to have two high tides and two low tides. The strenght of the tidal current during those tides will vary. When you look at a tide chart, find the one that has the most tidal current, and then fish that particular tide. These things make a major difference between catching no fish and catching quite a few.

On the opposite side to that, if you were fishing for sheepshead, you might look for the days that do not have so much tidal current. Sheepshead are crustacean eaters. Tide is not as important to them as to the snook. So you would look for days that have less tidal current like the first and last quarter of the moon phase. During the first and last quarter moon phases, the tidal current does not flow as hard or quickly. This also allows you to properly keep your bait in and around the structure that the sheepshead love.

Another factor to consider is the type of bait you use for the species of fish your targeting. Example: If you're fishing for sheepshead during those lesser tidal-current days, and you are using a live bait such as pinfish, threadfin or scaled sardine, you are most likely not going to catch any sheepshead since they are crustacean eaters. They like shrimp, small Pass crabs or 1/4 Blue crabs, barnacles, etc.

Warm vs. Cooler Water

Since the month of September is so hot, the answer could be as simple as fish are not eating until the water cools. When the water is very hot and the dissolved oxygen content is very low, fish get lethargic and get really hard to catch. Some fish like Alligator gar don't need the same amount of oxygen as a Bass, for example. They can breathe while submerged as well as obtain oxygen directly from the air. They adapt to muddy and oxygen-depleted slow water environments, which is why you are finding them and catching them.

Fishing at first light or very early in the morning could make the difference, since the entire night gives the water a chance to cool down. The incoming tide during the night plus no heated sun could also help make the fish much more active to eat. You will have to experiment at different times and tides. You will soon find out which tides are best for which species of fish. Once you fiqure out a pattern, you will be more successful. If you do fish with someone else, make sure you're both doing different things. Like you use a shrimp for bait with a split-shot attached to your leader, and the other person uses a live creek chub (bull minnow) with no weight. Maybe have a third pole with a cutbait just sitting on the bottom of the canal. Even though this might attract a lot of catfish, it also works great for redfish when the water is really hot and depleted of oxygen.

As we get into winter time, canal fishing starts to excel. So your success should increase dramatically. The Peacock Bass below was caught last week in a south Florida canal on a floating Rapala. The article linked below provides a wealth of information on catching Largemouth and Peacock Bass in canals.

Thank you for sending in your question to The Online Fisherman.
If you do catch some fish, send us your pictures.

Here is an excellent article on how to fish canals by one of the best canal Captains in Florida.

Captain David M Rieumont
The Online Fisherman Inc.

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