How to Catch Striped Bass

Team Cast & Conquer

striped bass
striped bass

If you buy a product via our links, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Striped bass, also known as stripers, are a prized catch among anglers due to their incredible fighting ability. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, the thrill of catching a striped bass is unparalleled.

In this post, we’ll cover how to catch striped bass by sharing what makes stripers so difficult to catch, the best fishing gear to use, and some techniques to catch them with more success.

What Makes Striped Bass So Difficult to Catch

Selective Feeding:

Striped bass can be selective in their feeding habits. They often target specific prey, and if your bait or lure doesn't match what they are currently feeding on, they may ignore it.

Changing Habits:

Striped bass are known for their migratory behavior, moving between freshwater and saltwater environments. Their habits can change based on factors such as water temperature, time of year, and spawning cycles. Understanding these patterns is crucial for successful fishing.

Sensitivity to Environmental Factors:

Striped bass are sensitive to changes in water temperature, salinity, and clarity. Slight variations in these environmental factors can affect their feeding behavior and location. Anglers need to be aware of these conditions and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Nocturnal Feeding:

Striped bass are known to be more active and feed more aggressively during low-light conditions, such as dawn and dusk. This can make it challenging for anglers who primarily fish during daylight hours to target them effectively.

Pressure and Wariness:

Striped bass in heavily fished areas may become more cautious and wary of bait and lures. They can learn to associate certain sounds, movements, or even the appearance of fishing gear with danger, making them less likely to strike.

Versatile Diet:

Striped bass have a diverse diet, including baitfish, crustaceans, and other marine organisms. This versatility can make it difficult for anglers to determine the most effective bait or lure at any given time.

Strong Fighting Ability:

Striped bass are powerful fighters, and once hooked, they often make strong, determined runs. Landing a large striped bass requires skill and the right equipment, as they can easily break lines or spit out hooks.

Best Fishing Gear for Striped Bass

Rod:

A medium to heavy-action rod of around 7 to 9 feet in length is suitable for striped bass. A longer rod allows for longer casts from the shore or boat.

The St. Croix Victory Casting Rod is an excellent choice for striped bass. This model is 7'1" in length with medium-heavy power.

Reel:

We’d recommend using a baitcasting reel with a smooth drag system and a line capacity suitable for striped bass.

The Shimano Tranx Baitcasting Reel is a workhorse that can handle powerful stripers. It has a 7.2:1 gear ratio for quick line retrieval and a stout drag system to boot.

Fishing Line:

Use monofilament or braided line with a test strength between 20 to 30 pounds. Braided line provides sensitivity and strength, while monofilament has some stretch, which can be useful when fighting powerful stripers.

For monofilament line, we'd recommend Berkley Trilene's Big Game 20lb. monofilament. For braided line, we always use Power Pro Spectra 30lb. due to its strength.

Terminal Tackle:

  • Leaders: Use fluorocarbon leaders to make your setup less visible in clear water. Leaders of 20 to 30 pounds are suitable for most situations. We use Seaguar's Blue Label 100% Fluorocarbon Leaders with great success.

  • Swivels: A high-quality swivel can prevent line twists, especially when using lures or rigs that cause spinning. American Fishing makes fantastic swivels that are made of stainless steel instead of brass. They're strong and dependable.

Hooks:

When using live bait for striped bass, I’d go with 8/0 or 9/0 inline circle hooks since they provide better hooksets. Mustad Demon hooks are a must have in our opinion.

Baits and Lures:

  • Live Bait: Striped bass are known to go for live bait like bunker, herring, eels, or mackerel. Drifting or trolling live bait can be very effective.

  • Soft Plastic Lures: Swimbaits, shad imitations, and eel-like lures work well for casting and retrieving. It’s always best to choose lures that mimic baitfish in the area.

  • Topwater Lures: Surface lures like poppers and spooks can be effective, especially during low-light conditions.

Fish Finder with GPS:

If you're fishing from a boat, a fish finder can help locate schools of striped bass, while a GPS system can assist you with navigating. The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 is a great affordable fish finder with GPS that won't break the bank.

Techniques for Catching Striped Bass

Trolling:

Use deep diving plugs or umbrella rigs to cover a large area of water. Vary your trolling speed to find the most effective presentation. Pay attention to depth and adjust your lure accordingly to target fish at different levels.

Live Bait Fishing:

Use live bait such as eels, menhaden, or herring. Fish live bait near structure or drop-offs where stripers are likely to be hunting. Adjust the size of your bait to match the local forage.

Casting Lures:

Cast and retrieve lures such as topwater plugs, swimbaits, or soft plastics. Focus on areas with structure, like rocks, jetties, or submerged vegetation. Experiment with different retrieval speeds and depths to find the most effective presentation.

Drifting with Cut Bait:

Cut bait, such as bunker or mackerel, can be effective when drifting. Rig cut bait on a fish finder rig or a Carolina rig. Drift along channels, drop-offs, or other areas where stripers may be feeding.

Jigging:

Use jigs with soft plastic trailers or metal jigs to imitate baitfish. Jig vertically over deep structures, such as submerged rocks, humps, or ledges. Be sure to change up your jigging motion to entice strikes.

Chunking:

Chunking involves using chunks of fresh bait like bunker or herring. Anchor near structure and create a scent trail by periodically tossing bait chunks into the water. Fish with multiple rods at different depths to increase your chances.

Night Fishing:

Remember, striped bass are often more active at night. Fish near structure with a noisy topwater lure or live bait. For increased visibility, use glow-in-the-dark lures or add light sticks to your rigs.

Pay Attention to Seasonal Patterns:

Striped bass exhibit different behaviors depending on the season, so adjust your techniques accordingly. Follow their migrations, focusing on spawning areas in the spring and moving to deeper waters in the summer and fall.