MY STRIPER METHOD
BY DR EVIL
After posting about my sons first bass I thought I would share MY methods for catching them. Let me first say that I am no bass pro and I don’t usually target them unless they are easy to target. There are dozens of ways to catch these fish from the ridiculously simple to the incredibly over complicated. I typically only fish for them in the spring and late in the fall (well i guess so does everybody else).
Right now, June, of the coast of NJ the Striper bite has been good-great for the last few years. Mostly pretty big fish as well with 30lbers the norm. Its a pretty simple endeavor, at least the way I do it. I either jig them or do the bunker snag and drop method. If I jig I tend to stay on the back side of the school of bunker I’m working in the opposite side from the direction the bait is moving. Bass being as lazy as they are will often be seen on the bottom off of the bait. I try to only use real Krocodile jigs. 5 ozs plus or minus. I’m told they don’t make them anymore but I’m not sure. If you find them, buy them. They absolutely out perform the fakes. Any jig will likely work but I’m sold on those.
I will also tie a jig tail (like those on an Ava 047) about 2 feet ahead off of a dropper loop if I’m motivated. It seems to work better in the fall when double header bass and bluefish can be common. The key is to real pretty slow. About half of bluefish speed. Don’t ‘yo-yo’ jig it on the bottom, turn the handle. This can vary but I start there. Also early in the run the bass will often be on rain bait before the bunker come in full force. This is when jigging is really productive.
My other way of fishing for them is live lining. I will admit I do enjoy this. Ok here is my top secret rig, get your pencils out. Seriously, all I do is tie a sea bass rig, add 2 meaty treble hooks and a 4 oz sinker. In my opinion forget those weighted treble hook snags, in my opinion the stink. Tie 2 dropper loops a foot and a half apart, add a loop for the sinker on the bottom and a swivel on top. Get ahead of the bunkers and let them come to you. Don’t be like the guy everyone is screaming at out there and run into the middle of the school. You’re just ruining it for yourself and everyone else, SLOWLY get ahead of the bait. Cast out, allow it to sink 10-20 feet and snag away. Double header bunkers are common if you’re trying to make bait quickly. I’ve had double header 25 lb bass on this rig.
This unquestionably out performs snag hooks. Once a bait is snagged, I throw my reel into free spool and send it to the bottom. If the fish are there and EATING, you will know pretty quickly. Fish until the bunker school has passed you by at least 100 yards. If no bites after the second or third drift, I’m out of there. If I see nothing on my machine and have had no bites I will snag a bunch of baits and place them in a rubber made bucket with the wash down hose running into it. Snagged bunker tend to bleed out and die quickly but the dead ones work as well. I don’t believe cast netting bunker in 50 plus feet of water is a worthwhile endeavor unless your net sinks faster then a sash weight.
Sometimes hopping from school to school of bait is the ticket until you find them, sometimes you need to just wait till they want to eat, sometimes it pays to take a ride to a new area or depth of water. Lately its been an early-early bite followed by a dusk bite but you never know. One thing I will always do is get away from the fleet. You should also, unless its a crazy bite. I like to get around structure and just fish. LOOK for readings as you steam along. They should look like streaks across your screen, these are fish looking to be caught. You DO NOT need to be in acres of bunker to read fish. Any blackfish bottom out to 65 feet is fine. Find some little pimple of rocks and fish some live swimmers for a few drifts. You will be surprised how well this works even when they aren’t eating anywhere else.
I do this 2 ways… First I tie any old 5/0 or bigger hook to the end of 4 feet of leader. No weight. No need for bleeding hooks. Hook the bait by its butt hole. This will make the bunker swim down and away from the boat typically. Secondly I may add a 3 oz egg sinker to the rig and hook the bait thru the nose. I drop it straight down. When you get a bite you will know it. I’m always in free spool and when I get a pick up I let her run for 5 -7 seconds (Same goes with the treble hooks which you can use on this rig as well). Finally come tight and its game on. I will say that my intent is to gut hook each fish because they come home with me. Very little worry of seeing shorts this time of year. But if its a worry or you want to set them free I guess circle hooks are the ticket.
Like I said I am no bass pro, but these methods work well, at least for me. If you have the time after work on a weekday, sneak out until dark and catch a few.
Here is my son Nicholas holding a few nice bass using this method: