Whether you seek it in freshwater, brackish tidal rivers, salty marine estuaries or the open ocean, the regal striper has an allure that’s hard to deny. Ranging from school fish measured in inches to mammoth cow bass that can top 60 pounds, stripers are among the biggest, most powerful and challenging fish to be caught by recreational angles. They are also one of the best eating.
While the biggest bass in saltwater are often targeted with live baits such as eels and bunker, when the schools run shallow or tight to shore a wide variety of lures will catch their interest. On the sweeter side, freshwater stripers and their close cousin, the hybrid striper, are ever-willing participants from spring through fall.
- In saltwater environs, expect stripers to ease up onto shallow flats with a rising tide and retreat to main channels and deeper water on the ebb.
- Stripers love structure. Rock piles, bridge abutments, bulkheads, boulders, points, ledges, rips and drop-offs are all potential ambush points.
- The biggest stripers in saltwater areas are often caught on full moon and new moon tides when strong currents favor the most powerful predators in prime feeding areas.
- In freshwater, stripers and hybrid stripers often key on shad. In saltwater, bunker pods, mullet sand eels and herring frequently concentrate the action.
- Freshwater striper fishing often peaks in spring when water temperatures are between 60° and 70° F. Under these conditions you’ll frequently find the bass willing to strike lures on or near the surface.
- In both freshwater and saltwater, stripers tend to sulk in deep areas once water temperatures exceed 75 degrees. Landlocked stripers will migrate up feeder rivers seeking the higher oxygen levels of moving water while salty bass simply head for deeper water or move further up the coast toward cooler environments.
- Kayaks are great for quietly approaching shy stripers in back bays, rivers, tidal creeks and shallow flats.
- Like most predator species, stripers feed aggressively at dawn and dusk. They also feed heavily after dark.
- As a general rule, big bass like big baits and large lures.
- Stripers enjoy turbulent water because it over-powers and disorients baitfish. Fish windward shores in freshwater lakes and reservoirs, rough surf or sharp rips in saltwater.
Catching Striped Bass
- For school bass in calm or back-bay waters, gently flowing tidal creeks, streams and rivers, and in open water on large lakes and reservoirs, a Panther Martin “Big Eye” Vivif Swimbait is a great choice.
- Match the hatch when shad, bunker or herring are obvious bass targets. Both small and large Vivif Swimbaits come in a variety of patterns that closely approximate live baitfish patterns.
- For large stripers in swift currents, a crashing surf or deep water, a 9" Double Trouble Vivif Swimbait provides the weight for far casts plus two hooks for extra sticking power.
- For tidal creeks with moderate current, cast for stripers with a Sonic SizzleTail Silver White Ice or Silver Root Beer.
- During tidal creek slack tides, slower tidal stages or when weeds are an issue, toss a WeedRunner in Gold White Ice, Silver White Ice or Silver New Penny to entice neutral fish. Retrieve just fast enough to keep the blade spinning.
- For late-night striper excursions, a jet black with red eyes Vivif can bring savage strikes.
- When stripers are feeding aggressively, work the appropriate size Panther Martin Vivif Swimbait quickly so it stays just below the surface.
- When stripers put on the finicky act, work a Vivif Swimbait slowly just above the bottom. For especially soft biting bass, work the lure with slow lifts to provide a jigging motion.
- On lakes and rivers that contain both hybrid stripers and largemouth bass, choose a Sonic SizzleTail to work open water around shad and other baitfish schools. Work you lures alongside or slightly behind the fodder as both types of bass like to trail their prey.
- Try a Classic “Big Eye” Vivif Swimbait in holographic chartreuse when waters are murky, muddy or discolored.
- A size 5 Vivif Style Spinner Minnow in holographic rainbow trout pattern can be deadly on freshwater lakes that have just received a stocking of trout. Use silver bladed lures under bright sunshine, gold blades under cloudy skies.
- For small water striper fishing where shorts dominate the catch, crush down the barbs on WeedRunner and SizzleTail lures to make releasing small fish an easy task.
Striped Bass Facts
- The striped bass is the state fish of Maryland, Rhode Island and South Carolina. It’s also the official saltwater fish of New York, Virginia and New Hampshire
- Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are the primary spawning and nursery area for 70-90% of the Atlantic coast stocks of striped bass. Other important spawning areas include the Hudson River in New York and rivers along the North Carolina coast.
- Depending on where you catch them, stripers are also known as linesiders, rockfish, rock bass and greenheads.
- Mature large female striped bass are called cows. Juvenile stripers are called schoolies or shorts.
- Striped bass have no eyelids, which may explain their preference for feeding during periods of low light.
- During his years in the United States Congress in the 1800s, Daniel Webster was known to have cast flies to stripers in the Potomac River during legislative breaks
- The largest striped bass ever recorded was a 125 pound female from North Carolina caught in 1891.
- A striped bass tagged in Chesapeake Bay was recaptured over 1,000 miles away in Canadian waters. Another bass needed only 36 days (14 miles per day) to swim from New Brunswick’s Saint John River where it was tagged to the waters of Rhode Island.
- A typical six-year old female striped bass produces 500,000 eggs while a 15-year-old bass can produce over three million eggs.
- The first conservation law in America, established in 1639, forbade the use of striped bass as fertilizer.