How to Catch Striped Bass: Tips for Striper Success

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How to Catch Striped Bass: Tips for Striper Success

Tackle Village is reader supported. If you buy a product through links on the site we may make a small commission

Updated on:
How to Catch Striped Bass Feature Image

As one of the most popular saltwater sportfish for anglers in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern areas of the United States and Canada, Striped Bass can be an aggressive and exciting fish to target on your next fishing trip.

One of the benefits to these fish is they are very eager and willing to take a wide range of baits and lures. You can successfully fish for them from a boat or from shore. And they will put up a very good fight once you have them on the line.

They are a delicious fish to eat, but can also be equally enjoyable to catch and release. Being a saltwater fish, they have a unique migratory pattern and are heavily reactive to changes in the tides as well as the lunar phases which makes striped bass fishing a fun and rewarding activity.

If you’re an angler just looking to start in saltwater fishing, striped bass are an excellent species to target. Striper fishing is great for new anglers as well as experienced fishermen, and can create some great fish stories for you to share with your family and friends.

Where are Stripers found?

Coastal

Big striped bass love staying in coastal waters that offer an abundance of live prey items. If small bait fish, sand eels, squid, and shellfish are common, chances are good striped bass will be close by as well. If you notice these prey items nearby, big striped bass are not far away.

Landlocked (Rivers/Lakes)

It’s not uncommon to find striped bass in bays, rivers, and even some brackish lakes. Striped bass are more active when the water is somewhat calm and clear, so if high wind conditions stir up a bunch of mud and muck from the bottom, striped bass activity levels will drop and anglers fishing in these areas will have little to no luck landing a fish.

What are Five Hot Spots for Striped Bass Fishing?

Fly fishing for striped bass does not only requires a fair amount of patience but is also a technique that requires an equal mix of precision and skill.

Martha’s Vineyard

Not only a common tourist spot, this island is also a great place for striped bass anglers to gather during the summer months to catch striped bass. Along the southern edge of the island is an extremely active striped bass hot spot known as Devil’s Bridge which offers fertile water full of prey for striped bass to eat.

Large gatherings of squid, eel, mackerel, herring, and other bait fish are common here throughout June, July, August, and September. For any Northeastern angler looking for a great spot to target striped bass from a boat or while shore fishing, you should not miss out on giving Martha’s Vineyard a try with umbrella rigs, fly fishing, or when surf fishing.

Block Island, RI

Block Island is one of the best Northeastern locations to fish for striped bass during their migratory season. In the early spring, as water temperatures start to reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit or more, this East coast location is great for striped bass fishing techniques.

Some of the best bait to use when fishing for striped bass here is shellfish as the mussel beds are a common stopping point for stripers to feed. Small eels can also be an outstanding live bait to use, as can small squid throughout the summer months.

Monmouth Beach, NJ

Just offshore from Monmouth Beach, New Jersey lies a rocky island of the East coast known as Shrewsbury Rocks. This seemingly unattractive island holds some extremely unbelievable striped bass fishing opportunities just below the waves.

One of the most appealing things about Shrewsbury Rocks is the abundance of deepwater rock piles and mounts which lie up to 40 feet below the surface. In this area, older and larger striped bass tend to be a common find.

In fact, it’s not unheard of for anglers to haul in striped bass weighing 40 to 50 pounds when striped bass trolling or surf fishing off the East coast. The abundance of natural cover and deep hiding places, the combination of cool and highly aerated water, and the incredible amount of natural live prey all make this one of the best-striped bass fishing locations on the East coast.

For any angler that wants to go a bit off the beaten path and try their luck at hauling in some seriously massive stripers on the East coast, Monmouth Beach and Shrewsbury Rocks should be on your list of places to visit for surf fishing or boat fishing.

Delaware Bay

Situated between Delaware and New Jersey, Delaware Bay holds many prime locations for good striped bass fishing options. One of the most popular locations is known as The Valley, and it lies to the south of the bay where water depths can reach 100 feet making it great for a fish finder rig or striper baits that sink quickly.

Striped bass in this location can easily measure 28 inches or more, and weigh over 30 pounds so be prepared to haul in bigger fish. Anglers fishing in this location will get the best results when using rigs that take your lure or bait deep under the waves to the groups of feeding stripers.

Monster stripers will stay low in the water throughout the fall months, and will rarely come into the shallow water as long as the water temperature is to their liking making this area great for striper fishermen to catch stripers that can make the record books.

If you’re looking for a spot around Delaware Bay that has much less boat traffic and can deliver some seriously large striped bass, look for the area between the R4 and R6 buoys so you can drop your striper rig into The Valley.

Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

Along the south of Chesapeake Bay lies Fisherman Island, and to the east of this island is a strip of water known as Eel Alley. Throughout the late fall and early winter months, Eel Alley of Chesapeake Bay is one of the prime spots for successful fishing. The landmass in this area creates a natural windbreak that keeps the water clear, making it easy for bass to locate their prey.

This is a great spot to do some slow trolling with live eel baits, or drop some squid into the water on a multiple hook rig. Striped bass will quickly take notice of the bait you are using and will strike with both speed and aggression.

How Big Do Striped Bass Get?

Striped bass can be a large fish that lives for up to three decades. It’s not uncommon to reel in stripers measuring 20 inches in length or more, and weighing up to 20 pounds. Due to their size, you need to be sure your tackle and gear can handle the abuse these fish will throw your way.

What Size Tackle Do You Need for Striped Bass

Rod

When fishing from a boat, a 7 foot long medium heavy rod is a great all-around pole when targeting average sized stripers early in the season. Once the fish start to put some weight on during the spring and summer feeding, you may want to look for a 7 foot long heavy rod that can handle a 6000 or 7000 reel.

For shore fishing, rods up to 12 feet are highly recommended as they can provide the extremely long casting distances you need to get your rigs past the wave break line.

Reel

The best reel would be a 4000 or 5000 class that can handle larger braided fishing line and thick leaders. You want to ensure the reel you choose can handle a lot of stress while still being able to spool quickly without getting tangled on the reel.

Line

Since striped bass can be both large and aggressive once hooked, most anglers will recommend using a 30 pound test braided fishing line. However, other anglers will say to shoot for a 50 pound test if you are targeting the larger stripers.

Best Ways to Catch Striped Bass

Many artificial lures are given an attractant scent at the manufacturer which makes them as appealing as live bait to nearby striped bass.

Lures

Artificial lures are by far the most commonly used tool when catching striped bass. There are thousands of different shape, size, color, and scent combinations you can find to get stripers in your area to take notice.

Artificial lures are made to imitate natural live baits in their looks and movement when pulled through the water. They are extremely easy to cast at long distances, and can be used multiple times before they need repaired or replaced.

Many artificial lures are given an attractant scent at the manufacturer which makes them as appealing as live bait to nearby striped bass. For topwater focus, spooks and poppers are a great option to consider. If you want to go a bit deeper, minnow swimmers and bottle plugs are perfectly acceptable. And for deepwater or all-around lure action, bucktails and metal lips are the most recommended.

Fly Fishing

If you are an angler that loves a challenge, fly fishing for striped bass is the technique for you. It not only requires a fair amount of patience, but is also a technique that requires an equal mix of precision and skill when casting your lure into the water.

Fly fishing is not always the best method for striped bass, but catching a striper on a fly can give you some serious bragging rights among your angler friends. The best flies to use with striped bass are large streamers, or deceiving flies that imitate bait fish such as anchovies or bunker.

Live Bait

Like most bass, striped bass are not extremely picky about what they will eat. These opportunistic fish will strike at a wide range of bait including small baitfish, eels, a variety of mollusks and crustaceans, squid, and more.

Live bait can be great for getting sluggish or timid stripers to strike. The motion of fresh baits will quickly get bass in the area to take notice, and can elicit a strike in very short order as stripers seek natural bait to eat. 

When night fishing for striped bass, eels are one of the most popular live baits to consider, but you can also get excellent results from using squid and shellfish on circle hooks.

Trolling

Trolling for striped bass is a very successful way to land these large fish, and can be one of the quickest ways to find schools of stripers with or without an electronic fishfinder on board the boat.

When trolling for striped bass, using Umbrella rigs, Mojo rigs, and deepwater spoons is your best option. This gets the bait or lure down into the fish’s strike zone and can get you some quick and aggressive strikes sooner than you expected.

When is the Best Time of Year to Fish for Stripers?

Throughout the summer when striped bass tend to move offshore is a good time and location to go fishing to see if you can find schools of these fish.

If you are fishing for striped bass in the Northeastern offshore region of the United States, you will get the most action in the months of April, May and June, with striped bass feeding well into late September.

For anglers that are staying in the mid-Atlantic region somewhat more to the south, striped bass will be active sooner than they would for Northeastern anglers. If you stay on shore, try to focus on areas around bridges and piers, as well as the mouths of joining rivers or bays.

Throughout the summer when water temperatures start to rise, striped bass tend to move offshore and go somewhat deeper to gather around reefs, deepwater ledges, and other cool and dark areas away from shallow water. This is a good time and location to drop some deepwater rigs into the water to see if you can find schools of these fish.

What Time of Day Should I Go Striper Fishing?

Striped bass can be successfully caught throughout the day, but you may see more action in the morning or evening hours. For example, during the early spring season, striped bass will start to get extremely active once water temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Any cooler than that and these fish may not be nearly as active as you would hope.

How Does the Moon Affect Striper Fishing?

Whether you believe it or not, the phases of the moon can have a drastic effect on saltwater fish movements. Since the moon and its changing phases is responsible for the ebb and flow of tides around the world, this can be a direct cause for striped bass to become actively feeding or more relaxed and subdued.

If you are new to a specific fishing area, it may take a bit of time for you to study the tides and how fish in that area react to it. You may also need to compare the differences in weather in combination with the moon phases to get a better idea of when fish will be most active and willing to strike your bait or lures.

How Do Tides Affect Striper Fishing?

Changes in tides are directly related to the moon phases, and tides can change every 6 hours. In some areas, striped bass are most active during low tide when the motion of the water is heavily reduced and prey items are easier for bass to find.

In other areas, striped bass may be much more active during high tide, when the water has raised around tree roots, sand bars, and other areas where these fish may gather and hang out throughout the day and night.

Keep an eye on the tides in your area and know when they change. You can use this information to your benefit and learn how striped bass react to these changes every 6 hours. If bass in your specific location are extremely active during low tide, but get sluggish during high tide, you have a very obvious window for success when it comes to fishing.

How Does Wind Affect Striper Fishing?

A gentle breeze and low amount of wave action can be great for catching striped bass, especially in the late fall months when Nor’easters can send large schools of prey fish into an active frenzy.

When winds get too strong, and waves start getting more active on the water, striped bass activity will drop drastically. This is due to the motion of the water causing silt, mud, and other debris to stain and cloud the water reducing the visibility of the bass.

What is the Ideal Water Temperature for Striper Fishing?

Striped bass are the most active when the water temperature is right around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can see a wide range of activity from these fish as low as 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and as warm as 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is the Best Surf Rig for Stripers?

Many anglers love using high-low rigs throughout the early and late part of the striped bass fishing season. These surf rigs are great for catching multiple fish between retrievals.

Additionally, fish finder rigs and those with a sliding weight can be equally successful from boats as well as from shore.

Can you Catch Striped Bass at Night?

Striped bass are a saltwater species that can be extremely active and willing to feed during the night. This makes them a unique target to focus on during night fishing, as well as a great fish to catch during the late evening.

During the night, striped bass will be a bit slower than they are during the day, but will react to a wide range of live baits as well as dark colored artificial lures. Colors that work well for striped bass at night include black, dark brown, deep purple, and dark blue. You can also get success using lures with a combination of those colors on it together, such as half black and half purple.

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AUTHOR
Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water.