Whether you are an experienced fisherman or just starting out, learning how to catch Striped Bass can be both a fun and rewarding experience. Striped Bass are an abundant species located predominately in salt water environments such as beaches and estuaries however they do also head into fresh waters to spawn. They can grow quite large in size and are fantastic table fish as well making them a popular target species for many anglers.
So, with that, welcome to my 5 tips for catching Striped Bass this year as we see what we can come up with to assist you in getting them onto the hook and into the net…
What are Striped Bass?
Striped Bass are a predominately saltwater gamefish native to the United States. Also known as the Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, rock, or rockfish, they are an extremely popular sport fish due to their penchant for striking at bait and lures alike and will put up a great fight when caught – often jumping out of the water as they are reeled in.
A member of the Temperate Bass family, they are generally found on the Atlantic coastline of North America from the St. Lawrence River into the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana. And as above, they can also survive in fresh water and will venture into these areas to breed which has led to them being introduced to both salt and fresh water lakes all over the United States as well.
Striped Bass are silver and white in colour with six to eight continuous horizontal stripes on each side, from their gills to their tail.
Tips for catching Striped Bass
Ok, so let’s get into some of my tips for catching Striped Bass below…
1. Fish at night
Although they can and do get caught at any time of the day, the best time to get amongst the Stripers is at night. So if you can get out to your favourite fishing grounds in the darker hours, then your chances of catching a stripey monster are going to significantly increase.
One of the best ways to catch them is with live bait which can be attracted by lowering night lights into the water to attract them. This practice will not only allow you to gather your baitfish, but will also attract Striped Bass as they sense the movement in the water as well.
If you plan to use lures then go for ‘twitchy’ options such as poppers and swim baits and surprisingly, Striper also tend to go for darker colours such as purple, brown or dark green.
2. Research your fishing grounds
This one is definitely a tip for all types of fishing but especially important for Striped Bass where current and local structures can play a large part in where they will actually be. So when you are doing your research, consider the following:
- Water temperature – How fish behave in different temperature water is relative to how cold or water the water is on average. Striped Bass tend to like cooler waters (50-70 deg Fahrenheit) so if it is hot, then try deeper areas or stick to the night or early morning hours
- Water clarity – Although they are not generally found in murky lakes, as with all saltwater fish, try and find out where the water is of better quality in the waterway – especially if you plan to eat your catch.
- Structure – Striped Bass prefer structure so look for areas where there are deeper holes, gullies, underwater substrates or other structures such as reefs, rocky shorelines and fallen logs etc.
- What else is in the water? – We will discuss this next, however if you are wondering what bait or lures to use then you will need to check out what is in the water naturally. It is no good tying your favourite lure onto the line if it doesn’t match the type of live bait that shares the water with your target species. See what is found locally and match your fresh bait or lures accordingly.
- Ask a local – Want to know all of the above – ask a local. Local bait and tackle shops are a good starting point here.
3. Take a choice of bait and lures
As with most saltwater species, Striped Bass will take a large range of baits and lures. For best success with bait, I strongly suggest the use of live bait here. Most seasoned Bassers (is that a word?) will tell you that they get their best results with live eels as well – usually the stronger or stinkier the better.
If you are using lures go for poppers or swimbaits that will move around to mimic live bait.
Basically, anything that will attract a fish here is the right type to use – but as above, regardless of where you sit in the old fresh bait vs lures debate – if you can match what is found locally, then your chances of a good catch will increase.
4. Take a second rod
Again as above, Striped Bass will take both live bait and lures. As with most fish however, there are times where one type may work over another. Due to this, I recommend taking the numbers game approach in that the more different types of baits you can get into the water, the more chance you have of getting a bite.
And due to this, it can be quite time consuming changing your rig from live bait to a lure hence taking more than one rod to allow for a quick swap.
And whilst we are talking about fishing gear, no matter what you are chasing, always do the following:
- Maintain your fishing reel – Make sure it is clean with a good quality line. Rinse it off after every use with a full clean and oil after each season.
- Clean your rod – Again, rinse your rod after each session and check for any crack or breakages – especially in the o-rings and guides. Remove the reel and clean the seat, screws and handle every month or so as well.
- Use new tackle – Blunt hooks means no fish. I am a strong advocate of replacing your tackle after every trip. And whilst this is not as important in fresh water fishing as it is in salt, keep in mind that hooks are dragged over rocks, logs and along the bottom meaning they can go blunt even if you don’t catch anything.
- Check your tools – Tools should also be rinsed after each use however this is not always done. And trust me there is nothing worse than getting out there and finding out your pliers are rusty or knife blunt. Clean and lubricate tools and sharpen your knife every month or so.
5. Move around
And finally, as they are generally found in the ocean, Striped Bass are susceptible to changes in current and water quality hence tend to move around a bit. So, as with most other faster moving species, you may need to chase them a little especially if they are using the currents to corner baitfish. If you are on a boat, then a fish finder can be very helpful here in locating schools of Stripers – especially if you are around structure.
Again, speak to the locals as they can generally tell you where the fish will be at certain times of the year and where to go if they are not in the spot you thought they would be.
So there you have it, my 5 Striped Bass fishing tips for those looking to get amongst these stripey beauties this year. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.