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Fishing for Stripers

Striped bass or an incredibly popular game fish amongst saltwater anglers in the United States. Voracious predators put up a stiff fight and can be found along the eastern seaboard. A few locations on the west coast, and sporadically in certain freshwater lakes.

In this article, we cove where you can locate strapped bass, tips, techniques, and other factors you should consider before hitting the water with a rod and reel.

Striper bass fishingHabitat

There are a lot of fishermen on the East Coast who target striped bass. One of the most sought-after fish in North America. These predators have all the ideal traits of a sports fish, being aggressive, powerful, and beautiful. Although striped bass spends most of their lives in salt water, they will migrate to freshwater during spawning seasons.

Striper spawning in the Chesapeake Bay concerns ecologists who worry about the effects of pollution on the bay’s ecosystem. Several states have ended trophy Striper seasons as a precaution to save the species from being listed as critically endangered due to overfishing. By imposing these restrictions, it is believed that the striper population will recover and return to its once abundant numbers.

Range

The striped bass range across the mid-Atlantic off the Carolina coast north towards Canada. Striped bass have also appeared in San Rafael Bay.

In these saltwater environments, striped bass migrates in freshwater rivers for spawning. On the eastern coast Chesapeake Bay water basin and Hudson River host the largest numbers of spawning Stripe Bass.

Western California near the Sacramento River also hosts spawning grounds for striped bass.

Striped bass have become popular on many freshwater lakes. These impoundments were mainly constructed during the 60s and the 70s and have produced spectacular large fish.

Biology

Stripers are stout fish with seven or eight parallel horizontal stripes, hence the name striped bass. They sport an iridescent underbelly and naturally occur in various blue, black, olive, and green tones. Weighing up to 77lbs and growing up to 5ft in length, stripers spawn when they reach sexual maturity between the ages of 2-4.

Textbook Picture or diagram of a striperBest time of year to fish for Striper?

Often, throughout the Atlantic region, anglers can find the most success with striped bass ranging from the beginning of September till the end of April. Like most fish, a striper’s appetite is dialed back during the winter from the lack of available bait and the lower water temperatures inducing lethargy.

The migration during the spring is made up of striper leaving their winter habitats, while the fall is the striper returning to their cold weather sanctuary.

During these times, the striper are most available because they are chasing the massive bait schools to stock up for the winter or replenish from the colder months. Targeting bridges, reefs, river mouths, and inlets that are rich with baitfish are excellent locations to intercept stripers moving to or from their winter haven.

During the warmest months of the year, usually August and July, stripers will search out ledges and reefs in deeper salt water that allows them a cool respite from the summer sun and warm surface water.

Best time of day to fish for Striper?

Throughout the year, the best time to angle for Striper can change. Paying attention to beat patterns, conditions and temperature can help anglers choose the right time of day to hit the water. In colder weather, a higher level of sunlight warms the surface water, so later in the day usually has a higher success rate.

During warmer months, Striper will usually seek out cooler waters when temperatures reach it’s peak. During these times, anglers should target deeper water or get out with the rod and reel earlier in the day, or closer to dusk.

Factors that affect the bite.

There are a myriad of factors that can affect the success of angling for striper including weather, time of year, water temperature, wind, tides, and bait. In order to best set yourself up for success when angling for stripers, keeping a journal or logbook of conditions and striped bass caught that day can be the difference later on.

Wind:

The wind can have a strong effect on the behavior of Striper, with the ability to completely shut down feeding or increase its intensity. Wind prior to a storm, or a late summer or early fall northeaster Chin be indicative of a feeding frenzy from the striper. Alternatively, extended high winds can disturb the bottom of the water column. This puts silt, mud, and vegetation into the water, polluting its clarity and shutting down the chances of stripers biting.

Tide:

Outgoing tide Striper FishingThe gravitational pull of the moon dictates that tides will change every six hours and 12 minutes like clockwork. The creation of low or high tides provides ample feeding opportunities for stripers, who are quite picky about their dinner time. Some of the best striper fishing occurs on a rising tide closer to shore as this brings with it an influx of baitfish and faster currents.

alternatively, trolling during Low tide is a great way to get the stripers hunkering down in deeper water to bite.

Moon:

Moon cycles can also play a significant role in the success of fishing for Striper. Full moons or new moons are known to be some of the best times to hit the water when angling for striper as they produce ocean currents that are strong, a favorite of striped bass. The three days before a full moon or new moon usually have increased movement vertically in the water column, which is excellent for striper fishing.

Alternatively, waning or no moon can be poor fishing for anglers, particularly at night, due to the lack of illumination.

Temperature:

Catch Striped bass in ThermometerTemperature can be a significant factor when angling for Striper. The optimal water temperature when fishing for Striper sits between 50° and 70°F.

While they can be caught throughout the winter, Striper usually will migrate south to avoid colder water. Water temperatures below 50°F can trigger biological responses for them to migrate south until water temperatures begin to rise, and the same response urges them to swim north.

Best striped bass fishing equipment

The best fishing tackle for striped bass varies according to size. A small spinning tool makes it useful for casting lures. A moderately heavy baitcasting outfit is a very efficient option for a variety. The trolling involves heavy-handed tacklers. Typical surf fishing tools work perfectly at sea. The bladed tool can be used in countless combinations. Ideally, this bait will be used to cast lighter lures and smaller fish or live bait for small-size striped bass in saltwater and freshwater. Using a 7 ′ medium action ring and an 8 ft long reel loaded with 20 lb braids is an excellent combination of rods and reel.

Natural Bait for Striper

One of the most popular ways to catch stripers is to incorporate live bait that resembles their natural food in the environment into your setup. Opportunistic feeders, Striper will eat a myriad of aquatic organisms, including fish and shellfish. Much of their diet is seasonally and locally dependent, so selecting bait that matches regional prey can be a game changer.

Stripers can be incredibly picky with their selection of live bait, although, on rare occasions, they will destroy anything thrown in the water. Some of the best striper baits include sand eels, mackerel, blood worms, squid, clams, bunker, and porgy.

While live striped bass bait will die after a certain amount of time on the hook, this doesn’t mean its use is over for Striper. Anglers can chop up the bait into portions and “chunk“ it on the hook, which is a popular way to angle for Striper at night. Two of the most commonly ”chunked” species while bait fishing is bunkers and porgy.

Porgy for Striper fishingWhere can I find Striped Bass?

Although stripers are native in stretches along North America’s Gulf or Atlantic coasts, these beloved sportfish have been successfully introduced to many fisheries beyond their natural range. These are locations so vast that it’s not just New Mexico, California, or North Carolina. Interestingly, it is also found across the Midwest and even along the western coasts of Canada, though with very little population. Since this species is widespread, we focus our attention on various parts of the United States.

Fishing for striped bass on the East Coast

Striped bass spawn and mature in the brackish river tributaries. The Chesapeake Bay provides around 80% of bass spawning activity. New England’s Hudson River comes second. Juvenile Striped bass spends their first few years on fresh and brackish rivers before soaring out into open water. Striped bass tends to live up to 30 years.

Where to catch stripers:

One of the first steps to a successful fishing trip for Striper is selecting the right location to angle. While many sites may work well, there are a few constants that can help anglers select a location quickly just by looking at a map.

Beaches:

Beaches could be an excellent location angle for striped bass, but much of this is dependent on weather and title movements. Because there is usually little to no structure underwater to break your line, anglers can cast anywhere through the open surf zone and match the myriad of baits that swim near the beach.

One of the difficulties of angling at the beach is that it requires knowledge. Of the weather, tides, and the skills to angle around the surf and wind. A complete lack of wind can cause stripers to seize feeding. While stiffer winds can increase the surf and disturb the water, making it difficult for anglers to cast.

Anglers looking to maximize their time in the water should target schools of bait while casting in conjunction with the waves in the wind. Targeting peers, docks, jetties, or other structure that helps anglers get out of the surf zone without being too far from the beach is a must.

big striped bass fishing from a beachRocky bottoms

Another excellent kind of location to angle for big striped bass is rocky bottomed waters. Usually thick with mollusks and baitfish, these are off in the hunting grounds for hungry bass and can be easy to angle with a boat or from shore.

When angling and rocky bottomed water, it’s best to present bait that sits in the middle of the water column, where lurking stripers can be drawn from the rocks beneath without cutting your line on any submarine snags or structures.

Stripers are known to prefer transitions, and because of this, sandy bottoms, shorelines, and piles of stones. Create some of the best target areas on Rocky bottoms for anglers to hit. English should be weary that barnacles often coat these structures, and allowing bait fish or striper to run with the line can break off the fresh baits or artificial lures.

Estuaries:

Estuaries are another great spot for anglers to Chase striped bass both from a boat and shore. The protection from the wind is afforded by the coastline and shallow water, making it a bait-rich environment, perfect for predatory larger fish like the striper.

Utilizing the current of estuaries, anglers can float live bait or arterial baits through the water column right to the striper. Working on shoots and cuts will often yield results as this is where eight fish tend to congregate when hiding from predators such as striper.

Working out of the mouths of these cuts and offshoots into the main body of water brings debate or lure right to the lurking striper.

Saltwater EstuaryFreshwater striped bass fishing locations

Striped bass are extremely successful across freshwater lakes and rivers across the US. In addition, when timber shattered and floods ruined the fisheries. Several striper fish were introduced, and the striping fish was flourishing. It also applies to Tennessee Valley Authority lake systems across the Southeast. Midwest lakes in Hot Springs Arkansas. Although these tips are aimed at Murray Lakes, South Carolina, they work wherever fresh-water striped bass are found. Anywhere dams often block the spawn, although certain structures that can freely flow are good areas for feeding stripers.

Freshwater Striped BassFishing for striped bass in Freshwater

Most anglers are enjoying fishing for striped bass in rivers. It’s usually better during spring as stripers prepare for breeding.

In rivers and lakes with dams, the fish are usually obliged to slow down and school on in the tailwater. This is a great angling spot as the fish are packed together and forced to move slowly upstream. While this is a fantastic spot, anglers should be extremely careful because the current is strong.

Using Circle Hooks

New regulation requires anglers to fish with a circular hook to bait striped bass. Using a circle hook increases the survival rate of stripe release and decreases the chance for gut hooking.

Striped bass fishing techniques

There are a variety of methods to angle for striped bass. From flyfishing to trolling, anglers have many options to chase after Striper. Depending on the weather, equipment, and the environment, anglers can chase Striper from shore or in a boat, shoreline, or reef.

Trolling

Trolling for striper east coast for feeding stripersTrolling is an excellent way to angle for striped bass from the boat. Though it’s often misrepresented as a cop-out or novice’s way of angling. It’s one of the most effective ways to fish for striped bass. Not only does it produce large stripers. But it allows anglers to go on the offensive and hunt for striped bass.

Anglers looking to troll for striped bass should locate bait fish and structures that may house their quarry. Trolling over or near reefs, stumps, or rock formations or great locations to find Striper. Additionally, fishfinders can help anglers locate drop-offs and other features along the waters bottom to provide a more targeted approach to catching striped bass trolling.

As opportunistic predators, striped bass will school in areas that make for easy ambush sites. Locating these spots with your often muscle beds, reefs, boulders, drop-offs, or rock formations, anglers can hook into several Striper at once.

There are two techniques to troll for striped bass. The first is a slow and steady troll, which keeps the lures at a constant depth in the water column. Alternatively, cycling the boat in and out of gear allows feet to sink deeper and pop back up. While striped bass often prefers the first option, if the bytes are slow or nonexistent. Try adding the extra movement of cycling in and out of gear to elicit a bite.

When trolling for striped bass, most anglers use deep-diving plugs. Some of the best include the Rapolla X wrap magnum, Tony Maja bunker spoon, and the bomber lure certified depth saltwater grade fishing lure.

Kayak

Cape Cod Bay Striper Fishing from a KayakEven experienced anglers will find that fishing for striper from a kayak is a thrilling experience. Because of their size and dexterity, kayakers have an edge over those fishing from shore or larger, monolithic boat. Both a pedal kayak, which will free up your hands for fishing, and a paddle kayak will work well when angling for striper from a kayak.

You can spot stripers below the boat using conventional sonar purchased aftermarket. But some of the newest fishing kayaks also have electronics built in. While old sonar was centered around the middle of the boat. Modern side-scanning techniques allow for full coverage of the surroundings as well.

Surf

Surf fishing

When surf fishing, anglers have a myriad of beads to choose from when targeting striped bass. When targeting larger striper, anglers can throw live eels, herring, and bunker, while smaller Striper prefers blood worms, squid, and crabs. “Chunking” works well for all sizes but is most effective when it’s fresh bait.

When surf fishing for striped bass, the fishfinder rig is the most popular setup, along with the bottom rig.

Fish finder rig

Utilizing a circle hook that ranges between 1/0 and 5/0, this rig uses a pyramid weight affixed to a swivel which connects the line in the leader. With the weight pinning the line to the bottom of the water column, the beaded hook in the leader are free to float and emits the current, attracting hungry striped bass.

Bottom Rig

Many anglers will be familiar with the bottom rig as it is often used for many saltwater and brackish water species. A pyramid weighs it’s at the bottom of a leader with two hooks. Attached to the leader, floating in the current. The line is affixed to the end of the leader opposite the weight, which allows tension to be kept on the leader at all times.

Surfcasting is another method of angling for striper that is fast-paced and requires constant input from the angler. Not for beginners, this method focuses on utilizing Topwater lures and jigs to draw in striped bass.

While the bottom-centric rigs allow anglers to work in varying conditions. These lures work best on calmer days with minimal wind and surf. With that said, when conditions are right, surf casting can yield a higher number of stripers faster than the bottom rigs.

When surf fishing, target current brakes and changing tides.

Fly Fishing

Flyfishing catch striped bassFly fishing for striped bass can be a difficult way to angle for novices. However, with the right gear and a little practice, it is one of the most effective and enjoyable ways to catch striped bass.

Estuaries are some of the best places to fly fish for striped bass. Utilizing a floating line, anglers can start with small flies, looking to present to the middle of the water column. Here, English can either work from a boat or sure and hit the cuts and offshoots of the estuary to draw and a trophy Striper working the shallows.

Beaches are another location that is excellent for flyfishing. However, with a stiff wind and rough surf, it can be difficult to place your fly in front of the hungry striped bass. An understanding of the weather systems and tide can help anglers target stripers feeding time. Casting at school from bait and working from structures. Such as docs or peers can help anglers gain an edge on striped bass when flyfishing.

When flyfishing for striper, size is important. Flies that sit between 3 and 4 inches are the easiest cast and work best for small to midsize stripers. Those with more experience and angling for trophy striper can use 5 to 8-inch flies.

Clouser minnows and Abrams Rhode flat wings are two of my favorite flies for striped bass.

Night

Striper caught at nightWhen night falls, large stripers enter the shallows, providing shore and surf anglers with a chance at catching striped bass. When using a lure, it is best to start slow but still experiment to find out what the fish prefer. Flashlights are a must to navigate the dark and be able to manipulate both rod and tools to unhook the fish.

During the day, a school of stripers may cease feeding if they encounter too much disturbance. Such as traffic from boats or other noise. Night fishing can mean the difference between a full ice chest and coming home empty-handed.

Conclusion

Striped bass is a game fish favorite amongst saltwater anglers for their tenacity and size. There are myriad ways to angle for striped bass both from the boat and shore. Fly fishing, kayaking, trolling, and surf fishing can all yield trophy stripers.

Anglers who select naturally occurring bait and the right location can greatly increase their chances of success. While paying attention to factors like wind, tide, temperature, and time of year will help you fill-up the ice chest in no time. Good luck, and stay safe out on the water

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