Fishing For Striper While The Bite is Still Hot
Striped bass are an elusive fish species. Natural-born fighters, stripers are prevalent throughout the country. In fact, much of the East Coast has been dubbed the “Striper Coast” since they are commonly found there. And if you’re lucky enough to live in the Mid-Atlantic as I do, striper season here is perhaps the most anticipated striper fishing each year.
Striper bass are anadromous—meaning they spawn in freshwater but live mostly in saltwater. The Chesapeake Bay, believe it or not, is where 80% of them reside. Although having diminished in years’ prior, this fishery is on the way back to recovery—which is why catch-and-release is essential to ensure this species can thrive in big numbers. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t successfully catch one to bring home and make striper fillets or fish sticks out of.
I went striper fishing in the Chesapeake Bay back in May with my father and a client. Striper catches are highly subject to regulations because they are an apex predator that gives the bay life. Because striper are atop the ecosystem, anglers in Maryland and Virginia are forbidden from catching shad—the striper’s primary food source. Due to their “threatened” status, not every striper bass can be caught and kept. Much of your striper bass fishing will likely be catch-and-release. However, to map out your chances of catching a sizable, legal catch, check out this graph from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Here’s how Maryland lays out striper season this year:
Want to troll for striper? Here are some tips on catching striper bass:
• Make sure to use rods with a 10-20 pound test with medium to “medium action” strength. This is ideal for striper fishing.
• For bait, go for lures or live bait. Striper go crazy on light jig tackle or for the following baits: clams, eels, anchovies, bloodworms, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, menhaden, herring, shad, and sandworms. I had great success catch-and-releasing 15-16 stripers using this light jig tackle setup, by constantly pumping my rod and gradually reeling in my line until I felt a big strike.
• Pump and reel when attempting to land a striper. I used a system of two pumps followed by some reeling and repeated until a striper hit my line. This minimizes the risk of breaking your line when hooking up a striper and adds some necessary slack. They are a powerful fish, so they can break off and swim away if the proper technique is not employed.
• After successfully landing a striper, hold your rod up straight at the 45 degree angle—or one o’clock position—to prevent the fish from slipping away. Holding your rod in the upright position allows the fish cling tightly on your bait or lure. Yes, you will feel immense drag but keeping the rod in the upright position will help you tremendously and place less stress on the fish. This will help you battle it out with the striper and tire it out without placing undue stress on it.
• Look for spots where seagulls or similar birds are feeding. On your boat, you’ll see noticeable water swells around you and hear birds screeching. This will be easy to spot. Drop your line deep as they dwell on the bottom of waterways. Having extra line is encouraged and necessary to reach these guys.
• Locate a school of striper using a navigating device. This will make your fishing trip more action-packed, enjoyable, and intense—all the while saving you time locating big fish.
• Have hand protection ready. Fin sticks are not fun to deal with, especially if you get cut handling a striper. When it’s very humid in the Chesapeake, for example, waterborne bacteria is prevalent and can cause some serious skin issues—especially that of the flesh-eating variety. To prevent that from happening, have hand protection and handle the fish with extreme care.
• Abide by state laws. If the fish is too big or too small depending upon the stage of striper season, safely release it back to let it grow.
As always, make sure you are licensed to fish or using a charter that has the proper license to fish.
My May 2017 striped bass fishing trip was one for the books. I hope the tips I offered can help YOU land a trophy-sized striper catch. Tight lines, ladies!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ReelCamo Girl Team Member
D.C. Correspondent, The Resurgent
Contributor, The Hill
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ReelCamo Girl is a lifestyle brand focused on ladies who love the outdoors.There is a growing need for a place for women to share their outdoor experiences, as well as an interest in clean eating and self-sufficiency. Through our website and social media networks, we offer a safe place where the ladies can share their pictures, stories, wild game and fish recipes, and news articles about conservation and hunting perspectives.
ReelCamo girls are strong, capable, kind, compassionate, nature & country-loving individuals. We encourage responsible and ethical hunting. We care about the land and wildlife management and about long term sustainability. We hunt, fish, dive, shoot and hike…for peace of mind, happiness, pure clean protein & connection to the outdoors. ReelCamoGirls can shoot a gun, draw a bow, track an animal, get CAMOed up, bait a hook, clean a fish and still be feminine.