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  #1  
Old 04-17-2007, 03:28 PM
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Default How do you determine the prevalent bait?

Hi,

A lot of posts that I have read stress the importance of trying to match the hatch. Knowledge of what the stripers are feeding on seems to play a huge role in determining what you reach for when you open your plug bag. My question is how do you know what is in the water? The only two bait fish that I have been able to identify from the shore have been, bunker, and mullet. The reason being that they both tend to jump out of the water and splash around, making them pretty easy to spot, but what about sand eels, spearing, herring, mackerel...etc. Fish that don't tend to give themselves away as easily. I know to look for dark areas, and nervous water both sings of bait fish, but how can I determine what those fish actually are? I think all of us who have not been surf casting that long ( three years for me) would really like to hear what the veterans out there have to say on this topic. Thanks in advance and tight lines
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  #2  
Old 04-17-2007, 04:13 PM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

The 2 easiest ways that I can think of are:

1 Look for fish washed up on the beach, and try to identify them, a lot of times the bass and blues will push bait right out of the water.

2 Catch a keeper and check it's stomach, I've seen fish with several adult bunker inside, the little hogs!

At night, I've learned to identify the little sound that bunker make when they're doing the flippy-floppy thing on the top of the water, hard to describe, but if you're ever in a boat near a school of bunker, listen for the sound they make. Snag one of those suckers and you've matched the hatch exactly.
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Old 04-18-2007, 02:07 PM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

Wear polarized glasses and keep your eyes open - remember, the face of a wave is a window into the water.
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Old 04-18-2007, 03:19 PM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

while your out fishing, ask around...if yo go about it the right way locals who know whats going on will sometimes throw you a bone...tackle shops sometimes will tell you whats been around for bait too, they usually have thier finger on the pulse of the boaters.
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Old 04-18-2007, 05:33 PM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

Another good way is to watch the birds, and see what they come up with. I typically fish stained water, and sometimes this is the only way I can see the bait in the low-light times that I fish.

-- Tom
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Old 04-18-2007, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

Thanks for the in for guys. I have on one occasion watched what the birds were pulling out and it did help. I was in Jamaica bay last year and saw a bunch of birds working. I threw a few big plugs and poppers to the edge of the action and nothing so I kept changing colors and plug types.I was getting really frustrated until I took a good look at the birds, they were eating these tiny fish( don't know what they were) I then put on a small storm jerking minnow and hooked up after two casts.

Sudsy the first wave thing reminds me of another story. I was on the Vineyard with my family one week in the summer of 2005 this was when I had far less of a clue than I have now. I brought my gear to the beach and walked for a few hundred yards to get away from the crowds. I fished for about two hours with out a hit. I went back to were my family was to get a drink, glanced over at the water and in the first wave was a small school if huge bass. Needless to say I threw every thing I had at them and chased them up and down the beach. they would follow my lure right up to the edge of the water, but not hit.
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Old 04-27-2007, 10:54 AM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

For Khary...that was a nice post and once I read it I realized how true it is....for me I get most of my info from the bait store...they have no problem telling you what type of bait is working or running at that particular time. I don't think I've ever seen baitfish washed up on the shore and one thing I need to work on this year is "matching the hatch". One more thing: In Frank Daignault's book Striper Surf he talks about the situation you had of the fish chasing your plug but not biting. To the best of my memory this is what he siad about that: The reason (his opinion) that the stripers would chase the bait and not bite was because they noticed something wrong with the bait. After a while he learned to speed up his retrieve as to not even give the striper a chance to think of how realistic the bait looked. He said that this was so extremely effective that he called the retrieve the "100 mph retrieve" and would often use it ....even before he noticed stripers following and not biting.
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Old 04-27-2007, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: How do you determine the prevalent bait?

Brian- I also have that book. I wish I remembered that section when I was on the vineyard
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Old 04-28-2007, 08:29 AM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

All the above are good "heads up' info.
However, sometimes you need to make a blind decision. Knowing the times of year that different bait makes a presence or gets active can add to the arsenal.
Example, you'd probably wouldn't want to imitate a scup / pogy in May.
Eels are good from about June on. August is fine for small snapper imatations. Peanut Bunker towards the end of July is a safe bet. Also some bait is more likely to be active at night/dusk like squid.
Of course knowing the bait's preferences can help. Like small snappers probably wouldn't be found in 30' off shore. Grass shrimp would be unlikely found in the sandy wash of the surf.
http://www.stripermoon.com/baitfish/index.html may be of help.
Then learning the effect that storms, bright sun, water speed and temps as related to bait concentration will be a plus.
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Old 10-13-2007, 12:59 AM
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Default Re: How do you determin the prevalent bait?

Bunker will flip, even the peanuts will begin to pop on top. Spearing travel in bunches and flit out of the water. So does the bay anchovy (rainfish) but they are smaller and have two dorsal fins as opposed to one of the atlantic silverside. (spearing) They often look like a cloud in the water.
Mullet leave a v-wake behind them. Sand eels swim like an eel by sidewise undulations that run along the body from front to rear, which makes them easy to recognize in the water. They are found obviously over sandy bottoms and seldom are they found around mud or rocks.
Knowing the herring runs, seasonal migrations and spawning patterns by keeping logs is invaluable.
The cinderworm aka clam worm is found near muscle and clam beds.
Warm water and High tides is what triggers the hatch.
High 60's and moon tides.
Somewhere between May and August. Peak for the week of the June full moon.
Its over in a few days and if the weather is lousy its missed entirely some years.
A dip net isnt a bad idea to bring along.

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