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Stripers 247
How to catch a Striped Bass

Rockfish, striper, linesider.
More than 300 pages dedicated to your favorite fish, the striped bass

Click Here for The Striper Room

al Mcreynolds

Catching a striper can be extremely challenging especially when you know they are around the area you are fishing but are off the bite. The Striper can be very elusive at times for any number of reasons. But having said that, catching this predator is not that difficult if you are prepared, and aren't the sort who discourages easily after sometimes several skunk parties. Stripers can be caught with a variety of methods, yet they never follow strict patterns. They do tend to be more prolific at night however. The striper is a fish that has extremely sharp senses. It has two sets of nostrils on the top of it's snout. A sight feeder whose eyes adapt easily to bright sunlight and again for the darkness of night. The striper has very sharp vision and can see your line in most conditions. Contrary to popular belief most fish including stripers do not see colors but rather shades and reflections. The Striper is highly migratory and will school with others of the same approximate size. The bigger ones have been observed traveling and hunting in tandem. While one striper stuns the bait with his tail the other devours it as a meal. They can sometimes be caught using wire leaders but it is the wrong set up for your approach and many a fisherman has been stymied using the wrong hardware on his line. If one method can be used above all else it is to "match the hatch". Sometimes your offering has to be presented in such a way that the baitfish and its fluttering pattern may have to be mimicked as closely as possible. At other times they will take almost anything during a barometer drop and an oncoming storm.

Here is my approach to fishing the, surf, jetty, bay, harbors, rivers and the beach.First start with your equipment. Make sure you have everything you need before you leave your home.
Mandatory:1. Rod, a medium to heavy action rod. This can be fairly inexpensive. It is not necessary to have the best of equipment. Remember this rule. Catching a bass from the Ocean, the sea, a river, lake or anywhere else is a matter of in how you present the bait to the fish.
There are many modestly priced rods available from Shimano, Penn, Okuma, Shakespeare, Eagle Claw, Silistar, St. Croix, Tica and many others. Lamiglas, AWAF, Breakaway, Fenwick, G Loomis and Allstar and several others offer higher quality with more expense. These companies specialize in rod blanks for customizing and building your own rod. Shimano Compre Spinning Rods are smaller 5 to 7 feet rods that will stand up to the riggers of trolling and heavy jigging. For the surf get at least an 8 feet 2 piece rod, you can use longer or slightly shorter depending on preference. If the surf is high you will need a larger surfrod. Larger rods are for accuracy and distance. These are generally 9 to 12 feet long. You can even get as much as a fifteen foot rod that comes in three pieces. More on Rod selection

2. Reel: Some of your more experienced anglers will prefer a conventional reel for casting, (a conventional reel is round and the line is enclosed inside a housing, aka multiplier) but most of us will be happy with a good old spinning reel. ( open faced with a manual spring release bail.) One that will hold 300 yards of 20 lb test. It doesn’t have to be that expensive initially, but as you get more experienced you will want to upgrade. Penn, Shimano, Abu Garcia and Okuma offer some great reels for the money. The Penn slammer reel is a good spinning reel for the surf beginner because it will stand up to abuse and it can handle the load. One of the toughest saltwater spinning reels available is the Daiwa Saltigo. Another alternative is to purchase a combo rod and reel. Usually cheaper, and some of these offer good performance for the money invested. The Japanese reels are better than the Chinese reels.


More on Reel selection

3. Line and Terminal tackle: at least 300 yards of 15 to 20 pound test. I use monofilament Ande line, but there are several other quality lines available. You can use braided lines for heavy cover and rocks because it is much more abrasion resistant, has very little stretch to detect the subtlest of strikes in heavy cover, has a small diameter for longer casts and more spool fill. The draw back is the expense, and you can cut your hands with it very easily if your not wearing gloves. The newer braids don't cut into the guides like the old stuff did. Your local tackle shop will machine spool your line or you can do it your self. Your local shop will do it for you for only a few dollars per reel. Next bring the line through the guides and feed your line through your "fish finder" or sinker slides as they are more commonly known by. This is nothing more than a piece of plastic that slides up and down your line. It has a snap swivel where you tie or clip on a sinker. (Here, i would tie on a bank sinker so if it gets hung up in rocks it will break away so i dont lose the whole rig.)

Next, tie on a barrel swivel to the end of the line using a Uni knot. It is critically important that you dont use snap swivels here. A big fish will bend them open and you will kick yourself. Add your 3 feet of leader with your snelled hook attached. Make sure your hooks are sharp!!!! The leader should be 20 to 40 lb monofilament or fluorocarbon. I have used wire leaders when the blue fish are around, but generally only at night. Go to the knot tying section for instructions on how to tie your non slip knots.

The right fishing line

A check list: First check your fishing rods and reels. Make sure you have no scratches or nicks on your guides by rubbing a cotton bud around and inside your guides, or just check each guide with your finger. Clean your reels and check that your drags are working properly. Oil them or spray them with a little WD 40. Check your tackle box! Make sure you have plenty of swivels, fish finders, sinkers, and sharp hooks. You should also carry pliers, a fillet knife, bait knife, flashlight and gloves. You might want to carry an extra spool for your reel and some 15 or 20 pound test line. Check your rigs. Do they need replacing? Repairing? Experts say to use a new rig every time you go on a fishing expedition After all, you spend a lot of money on a good rod and reel but it's the end tackle that actually catches the fish!! Set up your rigs at home before leaving for your overnight trip.
I use 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus or live bait hooks (also Owner Circle hooks) that I snell to 3 feet of fluorocarbon leader. I size the hooks according to the bait I'm presenting. The proper knot for snelling hooks is located on this site.
Now some discussion about fluorocarbon. It is more expensive than monofilament, but less visible to these sharp eyed predators. Some say fluorocarbon is overrated, which may be so, but it is lighter and doesnt absorb as much water as monofilament so it flops around a little more and your bait is presented better. Compared to most monofilament lines, which are made primarily of extruded nylon, fluorocarbon is manufactured from extruded polyvinylidene fluoride. Although the extrusion process - whereby the respective line material is pushed through a die to create different diameters and strengths - is basically the same for both monofilament and fluorocarbon, that's where the similarities end .more on fluorocarbon digression. Having discussed the previous information on fluorocarbon and monofilament, my partner and I caught several 20lb plus stripers, with in a window of 15 minutes using 15 inch black wire leaders. The conditions were favorable for a feeding frenzy. We were fishing a beach that drops into a shipping chan nell, 80 yards of gradual slope to 25 feet, which then drops suddenly 20 more feet. You can't easily cast into the channel because it is quite far, but they come out of the channel to forage among the rocks close to the beach usually at dawn and dusk.
It was 2 hours after high tide at 4:30 A.M., immediately after a storm and the barometric pressure was low. If the temperature is favorable (15 degrees higher than water temp) then long and active response to a Solunar Period can be expected. Anyway The wind was blowing southeast on to the beach and into our faces. I had switched from mono because the bluefish were biting through it.

- Water and Weather Conditions -

Avoid barometric highs if you find, like I do, that such periods are tough times to catch bass. Bright, dry, clear skies, this same high pressure pattern that's so favorable to us often means poor fishing. Meanwhile, the arrival of wet, stormy weather will cause many anglers to decide to stay home even though such bad conditions as uncomfortable as it is to us, can yield a bounty of fish! Just before the wet weather arrives, it will be preceded by a "front" (an abrupt change in weather) which can often trigger feeding binges by bass before and during the frontal passage. Keep in mind, however, that fronts can be dangerous, especially ones with high winds and lightning -- not to mention getting soaked and possibly sick. Northerly or northeasterly winds usually indicate slower-moving larger weather systems which will take longer to pass, and often trigger protracted feeding sprees before it's arrival.
However, if you want to fish in one, it can be good to position yourself on a shore that has the wind blowing into it -- which often means the northwest shoreline. Try to get the wind blowing "into" something such as a small bay, a point, a drop off where a shoreline flat slopes into deeper water for example.
When you have a wind that has been blowing off the beach for a few days it's going to cause a lot of upwelling. When the wind is coming off the beach the surface water is moved by the wind and can only be replaced with the layers under it which causes the water off the bottom to come up that's cold and brown looking. If the wind blows off the beach for several days it can really make the water look brown and muddy. When it gets that bad there usually isn't much in it except for skates and sharks that tend to feed with smell instead of sight. When this happens you'll notice a mud line way out in the water where the brown water changes back to clear blue water. You'll also notice that all the bird activity will be on the other side of this mud line in the clear blue water. This is where the fish are . If the wind has been changing directions a lot blowing off the water and off the beach it shouldn't be too bad. You can get an idea of what you might catch by looking at the water, you will catch more bottom feeders if the water is a little muddy and more sight feeders if it's clearer water.

Sustained winds blow the forage into coves and shorelines and are a good place to fish if the wind is blowing into something.

Now on to snelled hooks.

Of course you don’t have to snell your own hooks, although it is cheaper, you can buy packaged striped bass hooks snelled to 30 lb monofilament, and single snelled hooks of different sizes. If your live lining bunker or using the head or large chunks, you need the larger bait holder hooks. Sizes 6/0 to 9/0. You dont even have to snell the hooks you can tie the monofilament on directly but snelling them makes an extremely strong connection with virtually no chance of slippage.
Equally important is the hardware on your line, meaning the swivel and sinker and how it is set up. These fish can feel the weight of a sinker when they pick up your bait. If they feel the weight they will drop it, so I highly recommend using a little plastic fish finder with a 3 or 4 oz sinker attached. It will slide up and down your line and stop at the swivel attached to the leader.

Tip: The behavior of a bass is to smack their prey with their tail to stun it. It may feel like a bite, so be patient. Also If you feel a fish drop your bait, dont reel in right away they sometimes come back to it.

Next, check your bait supplies. The best bait is fresh bait. The latter part of fall menhaden becomes increasingly scarce. Buy a few dozen and freeze them for November and December months. If it gets freezer burnt, the fish won't touch it. If you don’t have menhaden (bunker), use sand worms, blood worms, or clam bellies. Herring if you can get them. Live eels work great but they can make a mess of your line if you don’t use an eel rig. They like to tangle themselves on your line. It is probably best to stun them first by slamming them against a rock so they are not quite so active. Also you can put them on ice to control their activity but be careful the ice doesnt melt and they suffocate. Another fisherman friend suggested rubbing sand on the eels before attempting to hook them It makes them more cooperative. You can also use lobster tails and live crabs if you have the pocket book, or butterfish from the local A & P. For the colder weather use bunker, sand worms or clams. Spoons and diamond jigs are good also in cold weather, but that is for another discussion.
Other popular baits include white or yellow bucktail jigs, , deep running crank baits and a spinner with plastic worm rig. Popping plugs are best when stripers are schooling at the surface. If you are using these the set up will be entirely different.

Line Spool:

Modern monofilament line is tough and requires little care. But here are a few tips that beginners should follow to keep their line in the best possible condition. Sunlight weakens monofilament. Don't leave it in direct sunlight when you are not using it. Prolonged heat weakens it. Never store your line (or your rods) in hot areas like car trunks or the back car window, attics etc. The best place to store your fishing rods and excess line is in a dark, cool room, closet or garage. Don't let your line come in contact with gasoline, oil, suntan lotion, or other harm-full chemicals. These cause monofilament line to break down or become brittle. Even with proper care and normal use, monofilament lines ages. It's a good idea to periodically strip and replace old line. Two line changes a year should be sufficient - at the beginning and the middle of the season. If you fish often, change it monthly. Lastly but most important be on constant guard against nicks abrasions or other weak spots in your line. You can detect these spots by running the line through your thumb and forefinger. If you find a rough spot, clip off the line above the bad spot and retie your bait. It's better to lose a few feet of line than to lose that trophy fish!

striped bass fish

Lets review:

Check your equipment.

Is it clean and trouble free? Do you have pre made rigs made or have a freshly purchased supply? Sinkers, fish finders, swivels. Is your tackle box clean and stocked with the necessary tools? A five-gallon bucket with a top for a seat is very useful. Use the bucket for gear and or bait, many surf fisherman possess a surf bag as it contains the necessary tackle, leaders, plugs, lures etc. to maintain mobility along the beachfront. If you travel light, you can cover good distances without dragging along excess baggage. Lunker lights, Berkley Digital Scale, measuring tape, chair, camera, lantern, sand spikes and waders all are optional. Each of these depends on where you plan to fish and whether you can carry this much gear to your destination. If you plan to fish a beach that you can drive onto, then obviously you can bring more gear.
Take a walk through the area you plan to fish in the daytime and at low tide. Look for structure and other things like piers, pilings, rocks, turbulence, bait in the water and feeding birds. Also look for obstacles that might be hazardous to negotiate while carrying your gear at night. Be prepared beforehand and significantly increase your chances of catching the whopper you hear the other guys talk about. Good luck and happy fishing. You can email me with any questions, I would be happy to answer them. [email protected]s247.com

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