Last week, one of the folks I speak to from a local tackle shop implored me to write something about etiquette on the Cape Cod Canal.
As I explained to him, I have done it many times in the past and, in May, On The Water magazine published a story titled, “The Angler’s Guide to Cape Cod Canal Etiquette” that covered many of the do’s and don’ts if you want to fish the Big Ditch.
While many angling errors that occur along this ribbon of striped bass gold (nice hyperbole, huh?) are caused by a lack of knowledge, there are some who fish there who couldn’t care less about what is right or wrong.
Since when is yelling across the Canal at another group of anglers in the wee hours of the morning acceptable, especially where there are houses nearby?
What about leaving trash everywhere? Has it become okay to relieve oneself anywhere and everywhere, including people’s yards?
And then there is the brazen poaching that goes on, along with the total disrespect for the fish by those who do not practice proper catch-and-release techniques.
I know far too many people who poach, yet find it easy to point fingers at others who look and sound different from them.
There is even one well-known angler who released a big, stone-dead bass after posing for photos with it; that proved to be his only option after an environmental police officer showed up, ruining his high grading plot, since he already had a fish in the back of his truck.
He followed that up with participating in a video in which he had to be encouraged to properly handle a fish he was going to release, which ultimately was sent on its way with blood spewing from it.
Unfortunately, all of this has given the Canal a reputation as a Wild West scene. Apparently the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over what some folks see as a ribbon of water filled non-stop with bass, is taking action along with Massachusetts Environmental Police.
A group that has been engaged in rampant poaching for the last two years was busted by the EPOs recently, and the Army Corps is paying for Bourne police details at Bell Road, an area where residents have been subjected to some of the most egregious conduct.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy parking lot has been closed to fishermen, and it won’t be long before the residents of Gray Gables take action to close their beach as well, with large numbers of (often unruly) anglers parking elsewhere and then biking in.
I suspect that the next step will be similar to what has happened throughout the Cape: locking gates to parking lots combined with no fishing allowed after, say, 10 PM.
Captain Dave Peros writes “The Local Hook,” a seasonal weekly fishing column for the Enterprise Newspapers.