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Metropolitan Southeast Florida Canals

Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties


The man-made canals of coastal southeast Florida are part of an extensive, interconnecting network of canals that were primarily constructed in the early 1900s for drainage, flood protection, and water storage purposes. The freshwater canals in the southern section (Cypress Creek Canal and south) are mostly box-cut into a coral rock substrate, more than 10 feet deep with little littoral zone, and have much subsurface water flowing into them. The amount of groundwater flowing into some canals is sufficient enough to dramatically increase water clarity. Canals in the northern section (Hillsboro Canal and north) tend to be shallower, more bowl-shaped, have sugar-sand substrate, and little water groundwater intrusion.

Miami-Dade County:

Summer is a particularly good time for some fast butterfly peacock action. Many of the butterfly peacock are off their beds and protecting young during this time. In this situation, most any lure you can drag past them will prompt a strike from one of these battlers. Live shiners are also a good bet for butterfly peacock and largemouth bass. There may be some butterfly peacock on beds and an effective way of catching them is to throw a weighted jig like a bucktail or a jig head with a plastic tail right on the bed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission strongly encourages the catch and release of butterfly peacock year round to ensure the continued success of this very popular south Florida sportfish. In the heat of the summer, anglers wishing to try for largemouth bass will likely do best on topwater lures early in the morning or late in the afternoon. During the day, switch to a rubber worm, cast it into a shady spot under a tree, bridge, or ledge and fish it slowly.

Wigglers or crickets fished under a bobber is an excellent way to catch bluegill, redear sunfish, Mayan cichlid, and oscar in urban Miami-Dade canals and a fun way to get kids started fishing. Small Beetlespins and Roostertails are also effective baits for catching bream. The Aerojet Canal is a good bet for largemouth bass; Cutler Drain, and Tamiami canals for butterfly peacock, and the canals near the Homestead Speedway for bream.


Broward County:

Largemouth bass fishing during these summer months is generally better (and more comfortable!) in the early morning or late afternoon. Topwater lures like Zara Spooks or Rapalas work well during these time periods. During the day, the hot temperatures will keep the bass down in deeper water and anglers need to use dark-colored worms in june bug, black shad, or red shad or shad-colored crank baits. Depending on the depth and current, you may need to add a little weight to get down to where the fish are.

Peacock bass should be off the bed and hungry and anglers may want to try small (3”) minnow imitating lures such as silver and blue or black and gold Rapalas to catch one of these scrappy fighters. Topwater lures such as Heddon’s Tiny Torpedo are good for early morning or late afternoon bites. Small shiners are always productive bait for butterfly peacock and largemouth bass. Butterfly peacock may also be guarding young during this time and it is highly recommended to immediately release any adults to increase the survival of the young and maintain healthy populations of this important sportfish.

Snook and tarpon can be found in the North New River (84 Canal) and South New River Canals and anglers may want to use 10-15# test line with a 20-30# test leader and either freeline or put a bobber 2-3 feet above a medium-large shiner and fish around the spillways and bridges, particularly when the water is moving. Wigglers, red worms, crickets, or doughballs are excellent baits for catching bluegill, redear sunfish, Mayan cichlid and oscar in urban Broward County canals. A good set-up for bream is to tie on a #6 hook, add a small split shot a few inches above the hook, then add a bobber 2 or 3 feet above the hook and hang on! Any of the backyard or county park lakes in Broward County are a good destination for summer fishing fun.


Palm Beach County:

Afternoon thunderstorms can provide some good largemouth bass action once the rain stops. Find water flowing into a canal from a culvert or smaller canal and try a rubber worm such as Culprit’s 8-inch worm or Reaction Innovation’s “flirt worm” in red shad, june bug, or watermelon seed colors. Many of the canals have little structure on the shoreline so look for areas like rip-rap around bridges, culverts, and overhanging trees that may concentrate fish. Butterfly peacock fishing in the Lake Ida-Osborne chain of lakes and associated canals continues to be very good so anglers can fish for these popular sportfish without making the long drive to Miami!

Native and exotic bream (particularly Mayan cichlid and oscars) are caught on a variety of baits and nightcrawlers or wigglers are good bets for some great freshwater action. Clown knifefish numbers are increasing in the Lake Ida-Osborne system and in the E-canals that lie between the West Palm Beach Canal and the Hillsboro Canal east of Hwy 441. This unusual appearing fish is generally caught by free-lining live shad or shiners under shady bridges or overhanging trees but is sometimes caught on minnow-imitating lures. Anglers have lots of choices for destinations including the West Palm Beach Canal, Boynton Beach Canal, Lake Osborne (has excellent shoreline access), Lake Ida, and any local canal or pond with public access.

Southeast Florida Canals Map

See the Canal Overview Map for a good summary of the southeast Florida canal system. A Canal and Infrastructure Map is also provided by the South Florida Water Management District.

Popular Species

Popular Sport Fish Species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr. and Diane Rome Peebles

More species information is available for:

Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Redear sunfish, Peacock bass, Oscar, Mayan cichlid

FWC Trophy Catch Logo

TrophyCatch Tracker

TrophyCatch is FWC's citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger. The following TrophyCatch bass have been submitted from the Metropolitan Southeast Florida Canals:

Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 21

Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 2