The striped bass is one of America’s favorite fish species. They are a common target on both coasts and can be found in many inland lakes throughout the country.
While the species is the same, there are some regional differences for targeting them. Capt. John Luchka of Long Run Fishing Charters out of Point Pleasant Beach, NJ and California’s Capt. Manuel Saldana Jr. of MSJ Guide Service share how they catch big stripers.
Temperature Triggers for the Spring Run
Both Saldana, Jr. and Luchka stated that the striped bass are heavily influenced by water temperature.
Coastal fish spend much of their lives in saltwater and come to freshwater to spawn. The runs to the fresh water can be some of the best fishing of the year and when it happens comes down to water temperature and salinity.
“On the East Coast during the spring when the water gets in the 40-45-degree range, the big females will start to make the move to freshwater. They will show up before the baitfish start to move to freshwater and wait for the bait to arrive to feed before they spawn,” says Luchka. “This is when we troll the deep diving Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows and since the water is usually murky we typically go with the darker colors like Ghost Black and Holographic Green Mackerel.”
Saldana, Jr. says temperature also plays a big role in getting the fish moving from saltwater into the rivers and says that snow runoff also plays a part.
“When the freshwater moves further into the bay it is a trigger to get them moving into the freshwater to spawn, he says. “We are really at the mercy of the water and each year is a little different. Some years, like this year, the Sacramento and Feather rivers were excellent but sometimes they sit in the Delta and do not make the run to the rivers.”
There are many ways to catch a striper and because they are so aggressive there are countless lures that work at times, but there are a few lures and methods that consistently catch both numbers and trophy-sized stripers.
Luchka and Saldana, Jr. share some of their most productive ways to fool stripers…
TROLLING FOR STRIPED BASS
This is a great way to cover water in search of stripers and both of the guides we spoke to agree that it is one of the best ways to put their clients on fish. Even though they live nearly 3,000 miles apart they both said the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow is their top lure.
The R1136 size is 5 ¼” and is a great size for stripers.
“One thing I like about it is that it is ready to go right out of the package and you don’t have to tune it to get it to run straight when trolling. It has a nice, tight wiggle and I make a small modification to make it run even tighter and to look more like a shad,” begins Saldana, Jr. “I add a white 6” Trick Worm to one of the trebles to slow the action some. I’ll also take off the split ring and use a big duo snap to allow me to swap colors faster.”
When it comes to colors, he has many favorites.
“It is hard to beat the old favorite of white with a red head, but I also really colors called Candy, Holographic Sardine, and Holographic Chartreuse when the water is dirty,” he shares.
He trolls both the suspending and shallow running versions depending on the depth and says he trolls as fast as his 8hp kicker engine can go.
“It is around 5 mph and what I like to do is twitch it as I am trolling even if the rod is in a rod holder to generate more action and bites,” he shares.
He will use 50-pound Yo-Zuri SuperBraid in the blue color so he can watch the lines as he trolls.
Luchka typically trolls the deep diving version and will watch his Simrad units for baitfish and also watch the contour lines on his mapping card. “I slow troll them at 2.5-3.5kts,” he says.
CASTING FOR FEEDING STRIPERS
Besides trolling, anglers can have success with stripers once they have been located by casting to feeding fish or to likely ambush points.
Saldana, Jr. likes the Rattl’n Vibe in these instances.
“I like to swap the hooks out to bigger and stronger hooks, but they are great casting to rocks with a standard cast and retrieve. Also, don’t be afraid to troll 9/16 oz. version,” he says.
Luchka prefers big topwaters like the jumbo Yo-Zuri Bull Pop and Surface Cruiser. “They are big baits and can cast very far. They are popular for guys on boats who don’t want to spook feeding fish as well as the surf fishing guys on the beach,” he adds.
Stripers are species that have a loyal following on both coasts and everywhere in between. Knowing about their habits, tendencies and the best lures to catch them will help you land more linesides your next time on the water.