The man-made canals of coastal southeast Florida are part of an extensive, interconnecting network of canals that were primarily constructed in the early 1900's 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 ground water intrusion.
These urban canals provide excellent angling for a variety of sportfishes. Largemouth bass and snook roam throughout the tri-county canals and in the southern section, butterfly peacock and tarpon provide anglers an opportunity to complete a canal "trifecta" or "grand slam". The butterfly peacock is a world renowned sportfish that was successfully introduced by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission in 1984 to eat undesirable exotic fishes and to provide more sportfishing opportunities for anglers.