This is probably the most important issue in successful striper fishing. I cannot stress this point enough! If your approach is clumsy and noisy you might as well stay home, because your only going to get discouraged. First off, if fishing from shore, your already in high-stealth mode, so don't ruin your chances by wearing bright clothing or clumsily wading out into their world. Stay low in your initial approach and make casts from a distance first. Once you've done that, you're reasonably certain that there are no stripers where you'll be wading. Once in the water, stay as stationary as possible, you are now structure that won't spook them when they are in the area.
As mentioned above, I feel clothing is fairly important. Bright colored clothing is a big no-no, even in a boat. Unnatural colors, (i.e.: bright orange, White, yellow, red) are rather offending to any fish. Try to keep a cover shirt with you if you need to cover up bright colored clothing. I like browns, deep greens, on shore. In a boat, pale blue to match the sky works real well. Leave that bright colored hat at home along with the flashy mirrored sunglasses.
The more shallow the water, the more stealthy your approach should be. Just clanking something against a rock even on shore and the biggest stripers will be spooked. You may catch a few schoolies but the big ones are gone. I've personally witnessed a school of hundreds of feeding stripers shut down completely due to the starting of an outboard over 200 yards away. Some folks may say I'm full of baloney but chances are, they catch smaller fish and are happy with that. Just the facts mam.
From a Boat:
When ever possible make your approach by poling or with an electric motor. If you absolutely have to use your outboard to get into position, then so be it, your going to spook fish to the utmost degree. Move yourself slightly upstream of the area you want to fish and way anchor. Now you need to wait long enough for the fish that you've spooked to move back into feeding mode. Depending on the size of the fish, could be 20-30 minutes. Don't cast to the first fish you see rise, let them get comfortable with you being there for a bit and you'll catch a lot more fish. (Note: You should be using an anchor heavy enough to do the job. Clanking your anchor across a rocky bottom will spook them also, just make sure you tie off to the bow not the side or stern. In tidal waters, what is a near Stillwater at one time, can be a raging current in an hour, so always tie-off to the bow.)
Fly / Lure Selection:
Select a fly or lure that represents the forage prevalent to the time of year and area your fishing.
Alewife and Shad .. 6-10 inches long, a dark colored top and light colored bottom.
Prevalent bait is reduced in size significantly, I'm talking about an alewife young that is congregating to head out to sea. they range in length from 3-5 inches, again, dark top with a light bottom.
Striper's Sound and vibration Sensitivity:
Sound waves (sonar) travel 5 times faster and more efficiently in water then air, and we're talking about a fish that can sense bait fish struggling 100 ft. away, and can hone in on it in a five knot current. They probably have the most sensitive lateral line of any fish I know of. It keeps them alive by both finding food and sensing danger. This is a series of nerve endings in a line along the side of the fish. Next time you catch one check it out, look how it differs from other fish you've caught. You'll notice how it is much more predominant.
Stripers are extremely sound wave sensitive and very weary in shallow water (10ft. or under), once you have started an outboard or made any other noise or vibration contacting the water or adjacent ledges, all the big fish are spooked and if your lucky you may get a schoolie to bite. Oh they may follow your offering and give you all kinds of hope, but they're not going to bite when they are spooked. Trust me! It's been proven to me without the shadow of a doubt just too many times to count.
Just the moving shadow of your boat on the bottom will spook them, even canoes will and maybe more so, because remember, in the river their largest predators are seals with a body shape very similar to a canoe or kayak, so being stationary and quiet will increase your odds 10 fold.
Reels and line should be of good quality. Spinning reels should have multiple ball bearings and plenty of line capacity. They should feel very smooth while reeling, also drag release should be smooth and set at 1/2 your line's strength. Set the drag from the end of the rod while bent, not from the reel face. 12lb. test a very minimum up to 20lb. 'clear line'. Stay away from those ultraviolet blue colors especially. Blue being one of the most visible spectrums in water, even deep water. I get a kick at the ones that advertise "high visibility blue" line. My question would be; "why?"
should be stout but light. I like a 6 1/2 to 7 foot medium to medium/heavy action graphite blank with plenty of backbone or 'spine' at the butt, and a fast action tip. You don't want a noodley limp rod. However, I do like a slightly softer rod for the no-stretch lines.
should be of good quality, 8-12wt. systems to cast the large flies required for these fish. Plenty of backing on your reel, 50 yds. minimum; Leader 12lb tippet minimum. I like an intermediate line as well, it will help keep the fly just subsurface in a fast current.
Just remember if you buy junk you'll have to buy it many times, so spend the money on good gear and save money in the long run, not to mention the headaches incurred through failures of your gear. Keep your gear maintained well, you'll only buy it once and be happy with it's performance.
Tide Schedules: You'll need to know the tides for your area, even areas that see no tidal influence. New fish come into the river and move up and down based upon tide, bait supply, and light conditions. You need to be prepared with this information or you'll be wasting a lot of time not catching fish. All times of the tide are good when it is moving in or out, some locations are better than others at these different times. I'm not going to spell it out for you, what you'll need to do on your own, is to carefully log when during the tide you catch fish and where. What were the conditions at the time? (i.e. was it cloudy, sunny) How did you catch them? then come to your own conclusions as to the best spots for incoming and outgoing tides... keep a log! Use it! Next year you can compare water temperature, tides, times, places, water levels and the like. You'll be impressed how you will be able to replicate and expand upon the successes year over year. After a few years you will waste little time looking for, and trying to catch, fish.
Water Conditions: Stripers are a fickle bunch. The rule I use is: If your in an area with a lot of rough water, seek the calm to hold fish. If the water is mostly calm then seek the roughest water available for feeding fish. What you are looking for are the active fish, not the ones that are done eating and are on the bottom burping from their meal. As far as temperature goes, the Striped Bass' range is from 50-80 degrees with an optimum range of 58-70 degrees. Always remember that these fish are temperature-driven as well as bait-driven. You will not see them in water outside their range of temperature unless they have no choice. In the spring, I've personally never caught them in the river below 53 degrees, so the ocean needs to be a sustained 50 degrees before you'll see them upriver, no matter what the river's temperature is running.