More Tips to Catch Trophy Stripers
This is the second in a series of articles with striper fishing tips specifically for catching spring trophy striped bass. Click here to read the first article. Here is more striper fishing tips to help you catch more trophy stripers! These tips focus on tackle and bait (primarily bunker).
Striper Fishing Tips
The best outfit is a 7’ spinning rod (or much longer for the surf) loaded with 30lb braided or fused line. The thin diameter ensures the best possible casting distance. The lack of stretch makes snagging bunker easy. Anglers fishing from the boat should just use an un-weighted 8-0 to 10/0 treble and a 24 inch leader. The slow sink rate of the treble will ensure it stays in the hit zone a long as possible. Be sure the rod and reel are well maintained. Big stripers will often hit a snagged bunker as it is being brought to the boat.
Learn to Throw a Castnet
Serious anglers eventually learn to throw a castnet. A 10ft net with 1inch square mesh will be the most effective. It is absolutely critical that the angler learns how to thrown the net on dry land before ever attempting to use it from a boat. The time spent learning to throw a net properly is priceless! Learn more about selecting the right castnet (video).
If you catch more bunker than you can use and you plan on using the remainder in the next few days, the bait should be brined rather than frozen or simply refrigerated. There are many variations on brining but nearly all involve a large amount of ice, kosher salt, and sea water. The baits will keep their color, scent, and texture if this is done properly. Properly brined baits can be just as effective as fresh baits. Check out our detailed instructions on brining bait.
A typical bunker provides 3-4 chunk baits when cut properly. The first bait is the head (sometimes less effective when the water is cold, but the most effective when the water is warm), the body chunk with the guts, and a third or fourth section. See this video for hooking and cutting bunker (video).
Using the correct hook size is less about getting a pick-up and more about a successful hook set. When using large cut baits (bunker) for stripers, an 8/0 – 9/0 Octopus style hook provides the best chance of hooking the fish. Compare the gap between the hook tip and the eye between a 7/0 and a 9/0 hook and you will see a big difference. The larger size will not spook the fish and striped bass have huge mouths.
A common mistake is to hook the bait too deeply. It is critical that the hook can easily be pulled out of the bait (and into the fish) when setting the hook. You know you are hooking your bait too deeply when you take a big swing and the hook comes back with the bait on it. You should hook the bait ONLY deep enough so that it does not come off when you flip it away from the boat or cast it from the shore.
From our experience filming underwater, we know that fluorocarbon leaders are certainly less visible than mono leaders. Spring water is usually the clearest and the striped bass can be very finicky. 40lb leader is fine when not fishing around structure. When fishing around docks and rock piles (or when the bluefish appear) heavier leader is required. The minimum length would be 36 inches when striper fishing on the bottom, but longer leaders are usually more effective when flat-lining (drifting baits in the water column).
Using a proper size and type sinker is one of the most important striper fishing tips because big finicky spring stripers will often drop a bait when they feel resistance off a sinker dragging along the bottom (which is even more resistance than from the reel clicker). The main line should be passed through an egg sinker and then tied to the swivel at the top of the leader. If the fish drags the bait laterally across the bottom, the line will either slip through the sinker or it will roll. Bank sinkers (typically used on fish-finder rigs) create more resistance. ONLY use a sinker large enough to ensure your bait is not dragged along the bottom in the current. You may not need any sinker in really shallow water.
Also check out our striped bass chunking tackle recommendations
This is the second in a series of striper fishing tips for trophy striped bass. Check out the first striper fishing tips article. Subscribe to our newsletter or like our Facebook page (below) to receive notifications when new articles are published.By Capt Andy LoCascio - Host of Northeast Angling TV Share your comments on the Northeast Angling Facebook page