Capt. Bob Paccia - the lower Cape's premier light tackle and fly fishing guide

Alewives and blueback herring in the Cape Cod Canal

April 5, 2011 by  

Alewives (river herring) and blueback herring are moving into Buzzards Bay via the Cape Cod Canal on their way to local herring runs. You can be sure that the stripers are right on their tails. Now, it is illegal to fish with or even be in possession of river herring in Massachusetts. In years past, live-lining herring was the “way to go” for catching jumbo stripers in the canal and the banks of the canal were lined shoulder to shoulder with anglers fishing with live herring. Today, savvy saltwater fly fishermen have a definite advantage over their plug and plastic bait casters, as nothing looks and behaves like a live herring then a well tied large herring fly. We tie up a lot of alewives and blueback herrings patterns each year to “match the hatch” when the river herring are the “food of choice” for big stripers bulking-up during their spring migration through Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal. The flies that we tie are weighted and sometimes rattled in sizes from 6 to 14 inches. These flies are tied mostly with synthetic materials to prevent “water-logging” which used to be a problem when we were forced to use only natural materials such as buck-tail, feathers, etc.
Casting these large weighted flies is a learning process and each year we get on the water early in the spring showing clients how to use these large flies so that they will be prepared when the season gets into full swing.
Peek water temperature for great striper fishing in the Cape Cod Canal is when the canal water temperature reaches 55 degrees. Remember one of the old saying: “Cape Cod Canal striper fishing is at its best when the lilac leaves are the size of a mouse’s ears.” Guess what? That’s just about the time that the canal water temperature is right around 55 degrees. You’ve got too love the old timer’s way of using nature’s calendar for predicting fishing conditions…
Keep in mind that water temperatures in the Cape Cod Canal vary throughout the day due to tide changes and current direction. Also, there’s plenty of good fishing when the water temperature is below that 55 degree mark. The best time to be on the water is whenever you can get there.

Please e-mail me if you have any comments or questions.