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Striped Bass

Ready to catch more stripers?

Striped bass are not direct relatives of largemouth bass. They are a large fish in the white bass family that can live in fresh or salt water. They spawn in moving water and do not guard their eggs. Many of the lures used for striped bass are also used for largemouth bass, though there are some differences in fish behavior and fishing techniques.

Unlike largemouth bass, it is not considered harmful to fish for striped bass during the spawn. In the pre-spawn mode, they gather near the mouths of rivers and streams. Then they run upstream like salmon and spawn. However, most people fish for stripers in the ocean or in lakes where they have been transplanted or landlocked.

In some areas, like the California coast, efforts are being made to establish striped bass populations. Consider practicing catch and release in these areas. In other areas, particularly certain lakes and reservoirs, striped bass have overrun the water and destroyed or severely impacted other species. Catch and keep fishing is vigorously encouraged in such places, including Lake Powell, Lake Mead, and many Southern California reservoirs. Striped bass have a light, delicate flavor and are delicious when filleted and prepared in almost any manner.

Striped bass are fast, powerful, roaming predators that rarely stay in one place for long. They are opportunistic and will also scavenge, even alongside Catfish and Carp. Active stripers love to chase down and eat almost anything smaller than them, including trout, salmon, shad, and bluegill. On waters where trout are stocked regularly, fisherman often catch very large stripers using trout-like plugs or swim baits. The AC Plug, originally designed for largemouth bass, has proven very effective on stripers, as have similar baits. On the Willow Beach section of the Colorado River, stripers in the 30 to 40 pound class are caught fairly regularly on AC Plugs and similar lures during trout plants. Live shad works well when fish are active, but dead baits, like cut anchovies, also work well.

One of the most exciting times to catch stripers is when they school together, chase shad to the surface, then boil through the middle of the "bait ball" in a feeding frenzy. From late spring to early fall, fishermen chase boils using binoculars and paying particular attention to diving birds that take advantage of the corralled or stunned baitfish. Topwater dog-walking lures, like Zara Spooks or Jumpin' Minnows draw unbelievably powerful strikes in a striper boil. However, shad-like jigs and even metal spoons work well, and they are usually snap-jigged beneath the boil to imitate the rapid direction changes of a confused shad. Metal jigs can also be dropped to the bottom and reeled back up to the surface as fast as possible (a technique known as "smokin' the iron"). One of my favorite "boil baits" is a Creme Lit'l Fishie at least 3" long, which I retrieve at a constant speed, fast enough that the tail just breaks the surface and makes a trail of bubbles. Stripers chase it down and gobble it almost every time. However, the strikes are not as visually dramatic as with topwater dog-walking bait.

On some waters, stripers can be found "slurping" shad larvae at the surface, shortly after the shad spawn. They will pass by, rippling the surface of the water, making slurping noises along the surface. Slurping stripers should be considered active fish and should be approached with topwater baits or jigs.

Stripers respond well to chumming, where it is legal. Fish-flavored canned cat food is an excellent and inexpensive striper chum, and it tends to bring in catfish as well. It should be broken up as it is dumped in the water, preferably with a stick. Many fishermen chum with chunks of anchovies when they are fishing with cut anchovies. However, large chunks will fill the fish and prematurely shorten the bite. Anchovies cut into very small pieces will generate more scent and will leave the fish hungry, resulting in a longer bite. However, the falling pieces will eventually pile up on the lake bottom, and the bite may shift from the mid-depths to at or just above the lake floor.

In the ocean, stripers eat many things, including baitfish, sand eels, bloodworms, squid, and crustaceans. Consequently, freshwater stripers can be caught on many of these baits, and especially bloodworms.

Fly fishermen like to use saltwater streamers, like deceivers or clouser minnows, to fish for stripers. Most use tackle of at least 7 weight. Some use floating line, especially at times of surface activity. Others use sinking or sink-tip lines.

Lure fishermen use a variety of lures. Topwater lures include Zara Spooks, Jumpin' Minnows, Dog-X, Spit' N Image, Crippled Shad, Creek Chub Striper Strikes, Rebel Pop R's, Pencil Poppers and similar lures. Sub-surface lures include Hawg Raiser Jigs, Bucktail Jigs (especially banana-head jigs), large Cabela's Mr. Mean Grubs (white, yellow or chartreuse), shad-imitating soft-plastic baits, slug-go type baits, most styles of crankbaits, most lipless crankbaits, Hopkins metal jigs, Kastmasters, Crocodile spoons, and anything that imitates a trout. Most jigs and soft plastics are snap-jigged for mid-level fish or bottom-bounced for deep fish. Trout imitating lures are primarily used at or shortly after the time that trout are stocked.

Bait fishermen use live shad or minnows, bloodworms, cut anchovies, cut mackerel, nightcrawlers, crawdads, squid, sand eels, and even small live carp. Rigging varies from sliding sinkers above swivels and leaders to plain jigs tipped with bait, to rigs with sinkers on the bottom and sideways leaders extending from 3-way swivels or blood-dropper loops. Hook styles vary from live bait hooks to baitholder hooks to wide gap hooks to circle hooks. Wide gap hooks are good for solid hooksets and they hold the stripers fairly well. Circle hooks are very effective if the hooks are sharp and the angler sets the hook with the reel instead of the rod. Be careful to start reeling quickly with circle hooks or the fish will swallow them and they are difficult to remove from a stomach. Consider a multiple-hook rig, where legal. When fishing bait vertically from a boat, a rig with 3 consecutive circle hooks or wide gap (a.k.a. Kahle) hooks spaced about 1 foot apart, with ??nce split attached just above the eye of each hook. Chum liberally (if legal in your area), then drop your line down no more than 5 feet at a time, counting down the line. Stripers often hit bait on the drop, especially near chum, and a slack line will prevent you from feeling the bite. When you catch the fish, remember how deep you were and count down to that depth again, stopping at least every 5 feet.

Striped Bass (morone saxatilis) are the largest members of the Moronidae family, which includes the white bass and the yellow bass. Striped bass are naturally anadromous, living in salt water and running up freshwater rivers to spawn like salmon. They primarily live in the Atlantic, along the northeastern United States. However, they have been transplanted to the Western United States coast. Stripers can also survive in freshwater, as long as there is adequate running water for them to spawn. Stripers do not make or guard nests like largemouth bass. They run up rivers and spawn over gravel. Their eggs bounce down the gravel and hatch.

eat. sleep. fish. repeat.

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