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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:

January and February are the peak spawning months for largemouth bass in south Florida, and now is the best opportunity for anglers to catch a big one. Butterfly peacock fishing continues to be excellent in Miami-Dade County canals except for temporary slowdowns associated with cold fronts. We strongly encourage anglers to practice catch and release of sportfish at all times but especially for largemouth bass during this season.

Hard jerk baits such as the Bagley Minnow B in 4 or 5 inch size, and topwater plugs such as, Zara Spooks, MirrO prop baits, Heddon Baby and Tiny Torpedo, and Chug Bugs are good baits for largemouth bass in Miami-Dade waters. Weedless Texas rigged plastic worms in colors including pumpkinseed, junebug, and watermelon are also an effective tactic for Florida’s most popular sportfish. Live shiners are very effective bait for butterfly peacock and largemouth bass, and are also the bait of choice for snook and tarpon in urban canals.

Small, minnow imitating lures used for bass are also good choices for anglers targeting butterfly peacock, south Florida’s premier sportfish. The fire tiger and chartreuse color patterns are a dependable color whatever your choice of lure. One tactic for catching butterfly peacock during these cooler months is to troll at a fast pace (5-8 mph) to cover a lot of water and when you locate a school, stop and cast into it. Bridges often hold butterfly peacock during the winter months so don’t overlook them! As the water temperature rises in February or March, the butterfly peacock will begin to spawn. This is an excellent time to sight fish for large fish in shallow water. Tossing just about any kind of lure or jig onto a guarded nest will trigger a response. You just have to keep trying until the fish actually takes the bait. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission strongly encourages the catch and release of butterfly peacock to ensure the continued success of this very popular sportfish.

Bluegill, redear sunfish, Mayan cichlid, Oscars, and jaguar guapotes can be caught using wigglers, crickets, a piece of night crawler, or a bread ball fished under a bobber, or with only a sinker 3 feet above the hook. Small poppers, and beetle spins are also popular baits. Aerojet Canal, Cutler Drain Canal, and Snake Creek Canal are good angling destinations for this time of year.


Broward County:

Largemouth bass anglers are encouraged to try minnow imitating hard jerk baits and topwater plugs in color patterns like black/gold, or silver/black for some fast action. Bream anglers should have great fun catching them on light spinning gear. A long shank hook baited with a wiggler, red worm, piece of a night crawler, or cricket often results in some fast bream action. Good catches of bream can also be made using 1/32-1/16 oz crappie jigs with single or multiple tails, small beetlespins, or roostertails. These types of lures in white, green, and patterns with chartreuse are great bream bait colors. The North New River, Griffin Road and Cypress Creek canals, or local parks such as Plantation Heritage, Markham, Brian Piccolo, Tradewinds, and Quiet Waters are good areas to try for bass and bream.

Fishing for butterfly peacock in south Broward waterbodies should be good except for a day or two after cold fronts pass through. Small, live shiners are always a top butterfly peacock bait. Butterfly peacock anglers are catching them from canals in the Sunrise, Plantation, Lauderhill, Weston, and Miramar area. The FWC strongly encourages the catch and release of butterfly peacock to ensure healthy populations of this popular sportfish.


Palm Beach County:

A live shiner is always a good choice for largemouth bass, particularly while the water temperatures stay cool. This is also the peak spawning time for largemouth bass and the chances of catching a lunker improve. Try fishing topwater lures right on the surface or speed up your retrieve to make them go sub-surface until you find a pattern that works. As the water temperatures rise, the bass will go deeper and plastic worms in the go-to colors such as red shad, black shad, watermelon seed, and junebug are excellent choices. Also crank baits such as Yo Zuri’s Rattlin Vibe and Rattle Traps in natural colors such as blue and black chrome, or shad colored fished around culverts with moving water are good bets for some fast action.

The butterfly peacock in the Ida-Osborne chain-of-lakes particularly Lake Ida and associated canals including the Delray Beach Canal (C-15), Turnpike Canal (E-2W), and 441 Canal (E-1), are doing well. Live shiners and minnow imitating lures are good bets for peacocks and you might even catch the very unusual appearing clown knifefish.

Native and nonnative bream (particularly Mayan cichlid) are caught on a variety of baits such as pieces of night crawler, crickets or small tube jigs, crappie jigs, grub tails or Roostertail spinners. Fish these baits along rocky shorelines for some great freshwater action. For flyfishers, try a 4 or 5 weight rod and tie on a bumble bee popper. The Turnpike Canal (E-2W), 441 Canal (E-1), West Palm Beach Canal (C-51), Riviera Beach Canal (C-17), and Delray Beach (C-15) canals are places anglers should give a try.

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