Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How deep is the canal?

So exactly how deep is the canal? It's a question I've wondered for a long time. Of course, the answer is "it depends" but I now have a much better idea. With a few hours to kill on Saturday afternoon, I ran over to Fletcher's Cove to have a run at some carp. I realized immediately that the water levels were down about 3 feet. Looking towards Georgetown, I could see some mud islands poking out of the water. I realized this would mean one of two things: Either water levels would be great for sight fishing to big carp OR I'd be able to finally get a good understanding of bottom structure and depth. It turned out to be the latter. Walking south of Fletchers, you have about a quarter mile where there's still a good amount of water - to the point where you can't see the bottom - so you're talking a depth of probably 5 feet or more at normal water levels.

Once you hit a quarter mile down the canal, you get into another quarter to half mile stretch that's between a foot or two of depth, so it's likely 4-5 feet at normal water levels. Both this section and the last had a distinct "V" shaped bottom, where it was clearly deeper in the middle of the canal. There were lots of schools of shad, a few nice sized largemouths, and even the occasional carp. What had the potential for ideal sight fishing was quickly destroyed by the movement of all the fish stirring up the silt and giving you less than 6" visibility.

Moving past this, nearly the entire rest of the canal down to the foot bridge crossing at 34th St was basically dry with no more than a trickle of water in the middle of the canal. The closer you got to Georgetown, the flatter the bottom became with little to no drop off. The majority of this section is about 3 feet deep. There are a few deeper holes that are holding lots of sunfish and a couple carp around the Key Bridge.

Despite this being mostly a scouting trip, I was able to stick one fish, and it was a hefty one. Probably one of the bigger I've gotten on the canal, actually. I'm not going to hit that section of water again until the Park Service begins refilling the canal. There's too little water, and I think fishing it any more will really over-stress the fish. Next time, I'll walk north of Fletcher's. I've only hit that stretch once before and saw nothing, but all the fish in the lower stretch had to go somewhere, right? On a side note, rumor has it water levels are normal up at locks 7 and 8. I haven't checked it out myself yet, though.

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