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THE HERRING RUN AT CAPE COD CANAL

The most obvious spots are often passed over because they seem too easy. The Herring Run on the Cape Cod Canal is not one of those spots! When the fishing reports buzz with Canal successes, the lot is filled with cars wearing plates from every state on the Striper Coast and beyond.
By Dave Anderson
THE HERRING RUN AT CAPE COD CANAL
One night I was driving through heavy rain at 3 a.m. the day after a huge hit at the Canal and I was passed by a van with Georgia plates—he had to be doing 100 mph—Canal bike on the back and a rod sticking out the passenger window. Someone got the call! Funny thing was, he rolled into the lot at The Run after I did; I guess he was speeding because he needed a coffee.
The Herring Run is really one of the best spots to set up at the Canal. Not only is it a productive location but, because it’s located in the belly of one of the deep bends in the Canal, you can see a long way in either direction, which can help you focus on a good bite and anticipate what might be coming your way.

The Run is a great place to fish at all times of the season, but during the spring migration there is the added bonus of a robust run of alewives that spawn in the stream at the west end of the parking lot. The first keeper striper almost always comes from the area surrounding that stream, and on a typical spring morning at the Canal you will be able to spot hundreds of herring in the run and many more running the gauntlet in the Canal.

The first half of the east tide is usually very good in this area in the spring. The accepted belief is that the east tide draws bait and bass in from the west end, which is the natural direction of the spring migration. The top four lures that you pretty much have to have are 3-ounce Guppy Pencil Poppers, 2-3/8-ounce Super Strike Poppers, 3- or 4-ounce Magic Swimmers and 9-inch rubber shads by Tsunami or Storm. The basics of how to cash in at the run are: if you see fishing breaking out in the Canal tie on the pencils or poppers; if the fish are rushing bait in the near-shore rips or chasing them up onto the rocks, switch to the Magic Swimmer and fish it fast, right on the surface; when the fishing is slow, switch to the shads and fish them on or close to the bottom. Sometimes the bass stay way down deep and a heavy shad is the only way to get to them.

As far as exact locations go, I’m not a big believer in fishing any one exact location. I look for areas that are comfortable and that feature ample room for casting. The fish and bait travel through the Canal with the tide. Are there times when the fish hold or gather in one area? Absolutely, but on a typical day pods of bass travel through as the tide progresses. The best tips I can offer though are to get there early and to keep casting even if the fish aren’t showing; probably 80 percent of the thousands of fish I’ve caught in the Canal have been taken on a blind cast.

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