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Striped Bass Fishing

Sport Fishing logo Sport Fishing 3/20/2019 Sport Fishing Editors
a close up of a fish: Opportunistic, aggressive, hard-fighting predators, striped bass qualify as a leading game fish in popularity among all coastal species. © Ethan Gordon Opportunistic, aggressive, hard-fighting predators, striped bass qualify as a leading game fish in popularity among all coastal species.

Striped bass fishing attracts hordes of anglers around the U.S. making it one of the most popular of all game fish.

a man holding a fish: Striped bass may feed at any time or tide, night or day, but anglers who fish after dark know that stripers tend to be particularly active then. © Capt. Terry Nugent Striped bass may feed at any time or tide, night or day, but anglers who fish after dark know that stripers tend to be particularly active then.

Striped bass are one of the most popular game fish in the nation; in many coastal Atlantic states, striped bass fishing earns the number-one ranking among all species. But wait: there’s more. Fishing for stripers is even popular in areas of central California, in many inland states with populations of land-locked stripers in lakes, and virtually anywhere that the striped bass is found.

For more evidence of stripers’ popularity, consider:

  • Striped Bass have the honor of being the “state fish” or “state saltwater fish” of eight different states (Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina).
  • State agencies have introduced populations to allow for recreational striper fishing in areas as far-flung from their natural territory as New Mexico, Nevada, and Illinois.
  • Ranked by weight, according to NOAA, striped bass fishing accounts for the top recreational harvest nationally.
  • A world-record-sized striped bass caught in Arkansas in 2012 would have been worth accumulated prizes of over $1 million. (It was not, however, certified by the state nor by the IGFA.)
  • Google the phrase “striped bass season” and you’ll discover close to 10 million results.

In other words — an awful lot of people love stripers and striper fishing.

How to Catch Striped Bass

Anglers across the nation constantly strive to learn how to catch striped bass, always hoping to hone their tactics and constantly trying to learn the latest new techniques for catching stripers. They’re on a never-ending hunt for striped bass fishing tips and tactics, relentlessly testing different options ranging from trolling to jigging to bait fishing to fly fishing for striped bass. They study how to locate and how to fish structure for striped bass. And these enthusiasts spend countless hours testing countless possibilities with epic determination, as they work to become the high-liner of the marina and the toast of the tackle shop.

Gear for Striped Bass Fishing

Because of the many varied tactics and techniques used for striper fishing, there’s a huge range of striped bass fishing rods and striped bass fishing reels and rod-reel combinations. Spinning, conventional, and fly-fishing gear are all in the mix, and sizes can range from light tackle to heavy trolling gear. In fact, all aspects of striped bass tackle will range widely depending on where you’re fishing and the time of year.

One illuminating example: Consider the choice of hooks for striped bass. An angler fishing with a bottom rig baited with bloodworms for schoolie stripers might choose a hook as small and simple as a number 4 J-hook. Contrast that with a 12/0 circle hook, which might be a more natural choice for an angler live-baiting with one-pound bunker (menhaden) a mile off the coast of New York. You couldn’t find two hooks more different, if you tried.

Best Rigs for Striped Bass

The best rigs for striped bass also change from place to place, season to season, and situation to situation. That said, there are a few bread-and-butter striped bass rigs with which virtually all anglers need to be familiar. Striped Bass umbrella rigs, for example, are a critical component of the trolling spread for countless striper aficionados.

The same is true of the striped bass mojo rig. Certainly, anglers who don’t troll won’t be too concerned with these specific rigs. But if bait fishing is more your style you’ll need to investigate chumming rigs and live-lining rigs. In fact, just about every tactic used for striped bass fishing has a set of rigs that goes along with it.

Best Lures and Baits for Striped Bass

When it comes to choosing the best striped bass lures and the striped bass baits, once again, there’s a huge range of potential picks. Have you detected a theme, yet as we look at all the different variables relating to chasing stripers? When it comes to this species, virtually every aspect of fishing is different depending on location, technique, and time of year – and this also holds true for lures and baits – whether you prefer to use striper jigs with light spinning gear, or reach for the buggy whip to cast flies for striped bass.

Where to Catch Striped Bass

As we noted earlier, the best places to fish for stripers change with the seasons. There is, however, one over-riding rule: Dedicated striper snipers almost always feel that their home waters should rank at the top. Ask someone about striped bass fishing New Jersey waters, and he’ll likely tell you that’s the best place in the world. Dittos, for an angler who enjoys striped bass fishing the Maine coast. And yes, striped bass fishing Cape Cod is the best choice there is, too.

The truth of the matter is that the very best anglers plan where to catch striped bass depending on the season and the recent weather patterns. There’s a very good chance that in late April, the Chesapeake Bay will be the top pick. In May, it may well be New Jersey. In August, Maine may lay claim to the best fishing. And in February, North Carolina could have the best bite. The truth of the matter is that these are fish we’re talking about – they migrate coastally, and they’re not married to any one habitat, waterway or hotspot.

What all this boils down to is that striped bass fishing is a moving target in virtually every regard. Sure, we have our favorite striped bass lures and what we consider to be the best striped bass rigs. But just when you have those fish figured out, you can bet they’ll change up some things. And that constant challenge is just one of the many reasons why striper fishing is so incredibly popular.

a group of people in a small boat in a body of water: Recreational fishing in the Northeast is a major industry and no single species is as widely sought as striped bass. © Doug Olander / Sport Fishing Recreational fishing in the Northeast is a major industry and no single species is as widely sought as striped bass.
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