12 Useful Blue Catfish Fishing Tips

12 Useful Blue Catfish Fishing Tips

This article will list 12 useful blue catfish fishing tips. Blue catfish have become a very popular target of anglers throughout North America. They have been successfully introduced into many large river and reservoir systems.

blue catfish fishing tips

Blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus, are the largest of the three major catfish species. They are apex predators that grow to 150 pounds. Blue catfish are native to the Mississippi River and it’s tributaries, but have been introduced throughout North America. They adapt well to large reservoir and river systems.

The introduction of blue catfish into some systems is not without controversy. They are a large predator game fish that can change the balance in a particular body of water. Some anglers are not happy with the way they have affected native populations. Fish management agencies introduced blue catfish to offer anglers an opportunity to catch a large, trophy fish.

Blue catfish expert Samantha

blue catfish fishing tips

Samantha Caudill is an experienced tournament angler and a blue catfish expert. She fishes with her boyfriend Matt Russell. She is sponsored by Dales Tackle, River Rats reel repair, RS Nets, Reel Em Up, BKPC Nation, Fish Hard Industries, Slimecat Rods, and Cat River Anchor. Follow her on her YouTube Channel. Special thanks to her for sharing her pictures and tips!

12 useful blue catfish fishing tips

The following list of 12 useful blue catfish fishing tips will focus on the differences between blue catfish and the other catfish species. While similar in habits, there are some subtle differences in blue catfish behavior and habits. Anglers who understand these factors will be more successful.

fishing for blue catfish

1)  Proper tackle is important when fishing for blue catfish

Anglers chasing blue catfish will need the proper tackle in order to be successful. In most cases, the rods and reels will be quite a bit heavier than used for other freshwater species. Smaller blue catfish can be caught on lighter tackle, but serious anglers will beef up the tackle quite a bit.

Anglers fishing from boats will do best using fairly heavy conventional tackle. For the most part, casting is not required. Samantha likes a 7′ 3”xmh Slimecat rod foot rod with a Penn Squall 20 reel. Most anglers use braided line, Samantha prefers 40 pound test.

Click to read a detailed article on catfish tackle

fishing for catfish

Heavy spinning tackle can certainly be used as well, particularly by anglers fishing without a boat. In this application, long casts may be required and spinning tackle is certainly better for that for most anglers. A 7 to 8 foot long heavy rod with a fast action matched to a 6000-8000 series reel is a good all around combo. 40 pound braided line completes the rig.

2)  Fresh cut bait is best for blue catfish

The best fishing bait for blue catfish is a fresh chunk of cut bait. Bait fish that are available in the water being fished is best. Herring and shad species in particular are effective as they are quite oily. This helps spread the scent down current and will draw blue catfish in to the bait. Suckers and chubs are also popular. Check local regulations before using fresh caught bait.

catfish bait

Anglers can cut the bait fish into chunks or strips. Chunks, or “plugs” are most often used as they provide more bulk and stay on the hook better. The chunk can be hooked right under the dorsal fin. Serious anglers pursuing blue catfish prefer to catch their own bait. Cast nets are often used. In some areas, traps can be employed as well. Anglers also catch bait using a light rod and small hooks. Again, check local regulations to remain in compliance.

3)  Understanding current is a key to success

Current is a very important factor in all types of fishing, and blue catfish are no exception. They thrive in river systems and understanding how current will locate fish is important. Predator fish like to find breaks in the current where they can lie in ambush while not expending a lot of energy.

blue catfish tips

Anything that causes a break in the current can hold blue catfish and other species. Fallen trees, rock piles, and bridge pilings are examples of this. Ledges are also used by game fish to ambush prey.

Current is extremely important when fishing for catfish in rivers. The spots they will stage in really depends on the level of the river. Entire books have been written on the subject. Basically, when the river is high and fast, catfish will find quiet water out of the main current. Conversely, during low water conditions, they will often be found in the swiftest moving water that has some depth to it.

4)  Night time is the right time for catching blue catfish

fishing for blue catfish

It is no secret that catfish are nocturnal species. They are built to feed efficiently under almost zero visibility conditions. This included night time as well as very murky water. They use their keen sense of smell more than their sight.

Blue catfish will often move up quite shallow at night as well. Flats that are adjacent to river channels are prime spots. Fish will move out of the depths and up onto the flats to roam about and feet. Obviously, anglers need to be extra careful when fishing in the dark, especially if current is present.

fishing for blue catfish

5)  Proper rigging for blue catfish is crucial

Fishing for blue catfish is not complicated. However, using the proper rigs and tackle will certainly increase the odds of success. Most often, anglers present the bait on or near the bottom. The basic 3 way catfish rig works very well for this, especially in current.

fishing for river catfish

The Carolina rig is a bit less complicated and is very effective as well. With this rig the line slides through the sinker and a swivel stops it from sliding down to the hook. A float can be added to lift the bait a bit above the bottom. This also gives the bait a natural looking action as it sways in the current. Rattles can be added as well to help blue catfish find the bait.

catfish leaders

Most anglers fishing for blue catfish use circle hooks these days. They almost always result in the hook being lodged in the corner of the fish’s mouth. This greatly aids in releasing fish in a healthy state. Sizes vary, but 5/0 is a good all round size for average fish. The hook should be matched to the size of the bait being used. Samantha uses 10/0 circle hooks for most of her fishing that targets larger cats.

There are quite a few choices when it comes to sinkers as well. Samantha, and most catfish anglers, prefer the flat “no roll” sinkers, especially in heaver current. Anglers using 3 way rigs often opt for bank sinkers. Egg sinkers are used when it is desirable to have the bait drifting with the current.

whisker bomb

A whisker bomb is a special rig used when precise placement of the bait is desired. With no leader, the bait will not move around and get snagged. This rig is used in heavy cover.

Read more about catfish rigs and baits

6)  Top spots for locating blue catfish

catfish fishing tips

Blue catfish are like many other game fish. They prefer structure so that they can ambush prey. The same structure attracts the same forage. Fallen timber, rocks, bridges, channel edges, sloping points and wing dams are all prime examples, Areas that combine two or more of these are prime spots. A channel edge with a steep drop off and fallen timber would be a great example. Blue catfish will get up on a flat to feed as well, particularly at night. Also, generally speaking, blue catfish prefer larger bodies of water. Smaller lakes and rivers will not be as productive.

7)  Blue catfish are excellent to eat, but larger fish should be released

tips for catching blue catfish

Blue catfish are fantastic eating! Their flesh is white, firm, and flaky. Many consider them to be the best table fare of all the catfish species. However, like most fish, the smaller and medium sized fish are best to keep for anglers who desire a meal. Larger blue catfish are usually females. It is important not to over fish the breeder stock.

8)  Safety first when handling catfish

blue catfish

Anglers fishing for catfish of any species need to exercise caution when handling them. This is especially true of blue catfish, due to their size. Gloves are highly desired, as is some type of tool to grip a fish in the mouth. The dorsal and pectoral fins have barbs and toxin that are extremely painful if they stab an angler.

9)  Other effective baits for blue catfish

best live bait for freshwater fishing

While fresh cut bait is the preferred bait for blue catfish, there are several other productive baits. Nightcrawlers will certainly catch blue catfish, as well as just about every other freshwater species. That is actually the main disadvantage to using nightcrawlers and worms. Serious blue cat anglers not not want to be ‘interrupted” by these other fish. For anglers who do not mind, they are an excellent choice. Nightcrawlers are readily available and easy to keep alive.


Prepared commercial baits are very popular among catfish anglers as well, particularly for those targeting channel catfish. However, blue catfish will be caught on these baits as well. The main advantage to using prepared baits is the convenience; they are always in the tackle box and ready to go.

10)  Boat position is very important

blue catfish tips

Boat positioning is crucial to success when it comes to fishing for blue catfish. They will often be found in fairly precise location, though they will also scatter out over a large flat. The key is to place the boat up-current of the spot or area to be fished. Anglers can then put out their spreads as dictated by the conditions. This is a skill that really comes from practice.

Here are some tips on anchoring from Samantha and Matt. Anchor: when anchoring we like to be around 100ft to 120ft from our spot that we marked in our graph. Depending on how deep the water is, is how much rope you will need to let out to keep your anchor in place and so it doesn’t slide. We use a 20lb HD Cat River Anchor with a 150ft rope. When double anchoring we will use one 20lb HD anchor for the front of the boat and 0ne 20lb HD anchor for the back of the boat

11)  Blue catfish can be caught from shore

catfish fishing tackle

Anglers without a boat can certainly experience success when fishing for blue catfish. This can be done in lakes but is probably more effective when done from a river bank. Fish in rivers are easier to locate. Anglers can access deeper holes on outside bends from the shoreline. Tailwaters (see next tip) are prime spots for blue catfish and many other species. Bridges can offer anglers access as well.

Heavy spinning tackle is usually the best choice for anglers fishing from the shore. However, those proficient with baitcasting tackle can cast just as far, if not further. It is just a bit more difficult, especially for the novice angler.

12)  Tailwaters are a top spot for blue catfish

fishing in tailwaters for catfish

A “tailwater” is the section of a river just below a dam. These are prime locations for anglers seeking many different species, including blue catfish. The current is often swift and catfish will hold behind large rocks and boulders as well as in eddies and current breaks.

Bait fish often get caught in the turbines of the dam and are chopped up and dumped into the flow. This creates a natural “chum slick” of sorts and fish set up to gorge on the easy pickings. Therefore, a chunk of cut shad or herring is tough to beat.

Anglers fishing from shore can often access these areas to fish. Parks are often created in these spots so that kayakers and anglers can access the river. It is VERY important to make safety the top consideration! Water flow levels vary greatly. Most dame have schedules that let anglers know when the water is being released.

These can be great times to fish, but maybe not the best time to be in a small boat. Anglers should never anchor in a heavy current, many have died doing that. Drifting or anchoring downstream and out of the strong current is best. The same applies to anglers fishing from shore; be careful!

In conclusion, this article on 12 useful blue catfish fishing tips will help anglers catch more of these large and powerful freshwater game fish!

Spinner Fishing for Trout – a Complete Guide

Spinner Fishing for Trout – a Complete Guide

The topic of this article is spinner fishing for trout. Spinners are very effective freshwater fishing lures, particularly in streams and rivers, which is where the majority of trout live.

spinner fishing for trout

Spinner fishing for trout is very productive. Spinners are very simple, yet effective trout fishing lures. They consist of a wire arm with a body that has a blade that rotates around it. A hook, often dressed, is on the tail. Spinners put out flash and vibration, which mimics a wounded bait fish. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout are the most popular trout species.

Spinner fishing for trout

There are several reasons for the productivity of spinners when fishing for trout. The majority of trout are caught in running water; creeks, streams, and rivers. Spinners are the most effective when used in these waters. The current provides action and movement while also resulting in the spinner blade rotating. All of this occurs with very little action by the angler.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Many lures act very erratically. This imitates wounded prey and attracts game fish. However, in many instances this action is too aggressive for trout. Trout normally prefer a more subtle presentation as opposed to excessive action. Spinners emit flash and vibration, but they do so in a much more subdued manner than many other lures. This is another reason that spinners are so effective when fishing for trout.

Spinner fishing techniques

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of spinner fishing for trout and other species is the ease with which it is done. Fishing with spinners is fairly easy and straight forward. That makes spinner fishing an excellent choice for novice anglers.

best trout tackle

In most situations, less is more when it comes to spinner fishing for trout. As mentioned earlier, the current from the stream will result in the spinner blade rotating. All that the angler needs to do is keep the line tight and allow the current to provide the action to the lure.

The best technique is to cast the spinner directly across the current, or slightly downstream. This will result in the line staying tight during the entire cast. Often times, the take occurs as the spinner reaches the end of the drift and ‘swings” in the current. The spinner will hold in that area for a few moments. This will often draw a strike. This is along the same lines as fly anglers “swinging a nymph”.

Read more about the best trout fishing lure

A slow, steady retrieve is almost always the most productive retrieve. As long as the blade is rotating and flashing, the lure is moving fast enough. This is true in lakes as well as flowing water. Anglers can add a twitch or pause occasionally if the bite is slow. However, it is best not to overdo this action.

trout fishing with streamers

One issue when fishing with spinners is that line twist can occur. The solution to this problem is to use a tiny swivel, often termed a “micro swivel”. THe swivel is tied to the running line. Then, a 2 leader that is 24″ to 30″ long connects the swivel to the lure. This will greatly reduce line twist when using spinners.

Spinner fishing for trout in lakes

While most anglers spinner fishing for trout will do so in moving water, lakes hold plenty of trout as well. Lakes provide one major challenge; trout are much more difficult to locate as there is so much more water in which to search. Also, anglers have the third dimension of where in the water column trout are feeding. Trout are much easier to locate in streams

rainbow trout fishing lures

Anglers trout fishing in lakes, especially smaller bodies of water, can successfully fish for trout with spinners from shore. Heavier spinners such as the Blue Fox or Panther Martin work well. The spinner can be fished at different depths by varying the time that the lure is allowed to fall through the water column. As in stream fishing, a slow steady retrieve is best.

Trolling is an extremely effective technique used by anglers spinner fishing for trout. This technique allows anglers to cover a lot of water as well as different depths all at one time. Multiple lines can be put out at varying depths. Trout often feed high in the water column, so trolling spinners at depths from 5 feet to 15 feed down is a good approach. Heavier spinners will get down deep enough on their own without any added weight.

Choosing the best spinner for trout fishing

While all spinners basically work the same, there are some differences that make one a better choice than others. Light spinners are best for small, shallow streams. Heavier spinners are better in larger rivers with deeper holes as well as for fishing in lakes. These are better for trolling as well.

trout fishing

Color is also a consideration when spinner fishing for trout. The same rules when it comes to fishing with artificial lures apply to anglers spinner fishing for trout. On bright, sunny days, lighter colors and silver blades are usually the best choice. Conversely, in low light conditions and cloudy days, gold blades and bright bodies are the most productive.

The top 4 spinners for trout fishing are;

  • Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner

  • Mepps Aglia spinner

  • Blue Fox Vibrax spinner

  • Panther Martin spinner

Anglers can read more about the best freshwater fishing spinners in this article by Capt Jim

The best spinners for trout fishing are the Worden’s Rooster tail spinner, Mepps Aglia spinner, Blue Fox spinner, and Panther Martin spinner. These 4 spinners will cover every situation that an anglers trout fishing with spinners will encounter.

Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner

rooster tail

The Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner is a terrific trout fishing lure. It is Capt Jim’s favorite trout fishing spinner. Rooster Tail spinners are very light. This makes them an excellent choice for anglers fishing in creeks and small streams. They will snag much less often than other heavier lures. However, they cast well on ultralight spinning gear.

Rooster Tail spinners come in several sizes and many different color combinations. The 1/16 ounce size is excellent for most stream trout fishing applications. Bright colored bodies with gold blades work well in a variety of situations. Anglers should have a few that are white with a silver blade as well. These lures are also available in single hook models, which are required in some “catch and release” waters.

Mepps Aglia spinner


Mepps is a well known and trusted brand when it comes to fishing spinners. They have been catching trout and other species for decades. The classic color combination is gold with the natural hair tail. Mepps spinners have earned a reputation for catching larger trout. Mepps spinners are an excellent all round choice for a variety of trout fishing situations.

Blue Fox Vibrax spinner

blue fox spinner

The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner has a loyal following among anglers spinner fishing for trout. It emits a unique vibration that calls in fish. These spinners are a bit heavier and a better choice for anglers fishing deeper streams and rivers as well as lakes. It is available in many sizes and colors. The size 1 blade weighs 1/8 ounce and is an excellent all round choice.

Panther Martin spinner

panther martin

Panther Martin spinners are the final spinner in this list of the best trout fishing spinners. They come in several different styles and many colors. The options are endless. Panther Martin spinners are also fairly dense and heavy, making them a better choice for deeper water. Panther Martin spinners are also available in single hook versions.

Best rod and reel when spinner fishing for trout

Ultralight spinning outfits are by far the best choice for anglers spinner fishing for trout. Many of the most effective spinners are quite light. This requires fairly light gear in order to cast them effectively. Conventional tackle is simply too heavy. Also, most trout are modest in size. Spin cast gear (closed face) can be used, but it has it’s limitations.

brook trout fishing lures

A 6” light action rod with a 1000 series reel is an excellent all around trout fishing rod and reel combination. A soft action rad is best for casting these lures as well as landing a nice trout on light line.

Anglers should use very light line when using spinners for trout. 2 pound test line will draw a lot of strikes, but might be a tad light for some anglers. 4 pound test will work fine in most situations. Flourocarbon line is expensive, but is a good investment. Monofilament will work fine as well. Braided line is too visible and the stretch is actually desired.

brook trout fishing lures

Spinner fishing will produce other species as well

While trout are perhaps the primary target for anglers fishing with spinners, many other species will take this lure as well. In slightly warmer trout streams, smallmouth bass are present in decent numbers. Cold water species including pike, walleye, panfish, and even musky will take a spinner meant for trout.

Smallmouth bass

smallmouth bass fishing

Smallmouth bass are the most commonly caught non-trout species caught by anglers spinner fishing for trout. This is due to the fact that they inhabit many of the same rivers and lakes and can tolerate fairly chilly water. Smallmouth will usually be found in areas of less current than will trout. They will readily take a spinner in both moving water and lakes.


rock bass fishing tips and tackle

Surprisingly, some species of panfish thrive in waters that support trout. Rock bass in particular live in the streams that have trout species. These are a very aggressive fish that will take spinners and other lures. Yellow perch do well in some cold water streams. Crappie will be caught in some trout lakes as well. Even bluegill and bass will be found in these waters, although in lesser numbers. Panfish are more plentiful in the southern waters where trout are stocked in good numbers.

Northern pike

best northern pike fishing lure

Northern pike flourish in cold waters, just as trout do. Pike do not like fast moving water and are more often found in shallow, weedy lakes. Trout will occasionally be caught there as well. The challenge is landing a pike on very light line with no leader.


walleye fishing tackle and lures

Walleye feed in cold water and are found in the same areas as trout. Anglers trolling for trout in particular will produce the odd walleye or two. Walleye will be found in larger rivers as well.

In conclusion, this article on spinner fishing for trout will help anglers have success using these effective lures.






Ice Fishing with Tip Downs, Tips and Techniques

Ice Fishing with Tip Downs, Tips and Techniques

This article will focus on ice fishing with tip downs. Tip downs are clever devices that hold a regular ice fishing rod and reel in place over a hole. They are an effective way for anglers ice fishing to present multiple offerings in different locations. Tip ups are mostly used by anglers targeting panfish and smaller game fish species, but can certainly be used on larger fish as well.

ice fishing with tip downs

Tip downs are devices used by anglers ice fishing that hold a rod and reel that presents a bait through the hole in the ice. Like tip ups, tip downs allow anglers to fish more than one spot at a time. When a fish strikes, the rod tip plunges down into the hole, thus the name. It is important to check local fishing regulations! They will vary greatly regarding hooks, baits, and number of lines allowed.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

Tip downs are advantageous because they allow anglers to fish multiple holes while still catching them on a regular ice fishing rod and reel. This is kind of the best of both worlds! Anglers ice fishing with tip downs are normally pursuing pan fish, crappie, and other smaller game fish species. These fish are better suited for tip downs as they generally don’t strike hard enough to pop the clip on a tip up.

ice fishing with tip down

Tip downs are excellent for anglers learning a new body of water. They allow multiple baits to be presented at different depths and locations. This will help anglers learn much more quickly the types of structure and depth that which fish are feeding. Tip downs are also very conducive to family fishing. Children can be distracted and play a bit in between bites.

Tip down options

ice fishing with a tip down

Tip downs are lightweight devices that are usually made of wood, plastic, or metal. They are very portable and set up quite quickly. As mentioned above, they use a conventional ice fishing rod and reel. One set, the rod is either horizontal or a bit above. When a fish strikes, the unit pivots and the rod tip dips down towards the hole. Thus the name “tip down”!

Click to read more about ice fishing tackle and gear

There are a wide variety of tip down units available to ice fishing anglers. Most opt for the type where any rod and reel can be used. This way, anglers can use the outfits that they already own. Sullivan ice fishing tip downs are an example of this. Some tip downs come with flags as well. However, it is very easy to tell when a fish takes a bait.

ice fishing basics

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Setting up an ice fishing tip down

Once the hole is drilled, the tip down is set at that location. Anglers can use a live minnow or nightcrawler on a small hook with a split shot or a jig head to get it down in the water column. This works well for crappie and yellow perch as well as a variety of other game fish species. Micro jigs with a meal worm or wax worm are best for anglers chasing bluegill and panfish. Artificial lures alone are generally not productive as they require manipulation by the angler. A brightly colored ice fishing jig with a live bait is an excellent all round combination.

Anglers ice fishing with tip downs should not neglect dead or frozen bait as well. These can be particularly effective on larger species such as northern pike, walleye, and lake trout. Minnows that have dies can be very effective. Game fish will at times not want to chase a live bait, but will readily take a fresh dead minnow. Cut bait can be productive as well. Suckers, ciscoes, and shiners work well.

ice fishing tip down

While the bait should be placed close to the bottom, anglers should vary the depth that they are fishing with the various set ups. This way, anglers can quickly identify the depth that which fish are holding and feeding. It is important to keep an eye on your tip downs! It is not unusual for a fish to take the bait off of the hook unnoticed by the angler. Fishing a hook with no bait defeats the purpose of covering a lot of water!

There are several other nuances which will help anglers ice fishing with tip downs be more successful. It is very important to keep the hole clear of ice. Most often, very light line is used in this application. Sharp pieces of ice will quickly cut this very thin line.

ice fishing basics

Also, wind can be an issue when fishing with tip downs. The best approach is usually two point the tip of the rod right into the wind. This results in the best line management when dealing with a stiff breeze. Also, it is often a good idea to pack some snow around the base of the tip down when the wind is blowing.

Strategies for drilling holes when ice fishing with tip downs

The primary advantage to ice fishing with tip ups is the ability to fish several different spots can be fished at once. Therefore, strategically drilling the holes is important in order to maximize tip up placement. Ideally, anglers will fish several different depths in a fairly small area. Sloping points are an excellent example of this, as are channel edges. Anglers can research prior to the trip to get current information and fishing reports. Many anglers have good GPS waypoints from open water fishing, these are good places to start.

ice fishing auger

While it is good to cover several different depths and even cover types, it is important not to place the holes too far apart. This will make it more difficult to get to a rod quickly. Also, anglers may miss a few bites. Most experienced anglers ice fishing with tip downs keep the rods a hundred yards apart or less. Again, anglers need to check local regulations regarding the number of rods and baits that are legal to use.

Ice fishing anglers have a couple of options when it comes to drilling holes. Hand augers work fine for those fishing a hole or two on ice that is not too thick. However, serious anglers opt for some type of power auger. Electric units work well up to a foot or so. Serious anglers will choose a gas powered ice auger.

ice fishing auger

Click the link to shop Amazon for ice fishing augers

Sonar units are very helpful for anglers ice fishing with tip downs. They will help anglers locate structure such as drop offs along with fish-holding cover. They will also show schools of fish. Several manufacture units specifically designed for ice fishing applications.

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for ice fishing sonar units

Ice fishing with tip downs for panfish

Tip downs work very well for anglers ice fishing for panfish. The light rods and baits along with the more subtle takes work well in conjunction with tip downs. Most of these smaller fish will not trip the clip on a tip up, those are just a bit too heavy.

ice fishing for bluegill and panfish

Anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish will do well to use a micro jig tipped with a grub of some type. Mealworms and wax worms are easy to keep alive and are readily available. A piece of nightcrawler works quite well, too.

The other bait most often used by anglers ice fishing with tip downs for panfish is a jig with a live minnow attached. The advantage that this brings is the chance to catch larger game fish such as walleye and pike. Live minnows are very effective on crappie and yellow perch. Larger brown and rainbow trout will take them as well.

crappie fishing

Anglers seeking larger species such as walleye, pike, lake trout, whitefish, burbot, and more will need to bump up the tackle a bit to handle the larger fish. In reality though, tip downs really are better suited to smaller fish on light tackle while tip ups are best for pike and larger fish.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with tip downs will help anglers catch more fish using this technique.

Surf Fishing for Striped Bass – Pro Tips!

Surf Fishing for Striped Bass – Pro Tips!

This article will thoroughly cover surf fishing for striped bass. Striped bass are the most popular inshore saltwater species from South Carolina to New England.

surf fishing for striped bass

Surf fishing for striped bass is a very popular sport that takes place all along the East coast of the United States. Striped bass, Morone saxatilis, are the most targeted species for anglers surf fishing the coastal beaches. Specialized tackle and techniques are used to hook them!

striped bass

Special thanks to Erica and Paulie for the great pics and technical details. Anglers can follow their adventures on their YouTube Channel, Get Reel Bass Fishing. as well as their website.

Surf fishing may seem like a pretty basic fishing technique where anglers simply stand on the beach and cast out into the ocean. However, this is far from the reality. Surf fishing is very nuanced; little changes and tactics make a big difference in angling success. All of the information needed to go surf fishing with striped bass will be in this article.

striped bass

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Striped bass surf fishing tackle

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass will need some specialized equipment. The main difference is the length of the fishing rods. Long rods are required in order to make long casts as well as keeping the line up over the breaking waves. Spinning tackle is mostly used and is the best choice for anglers new to the sport. Experienced anglers use conventional tackle with great success.

surf fishing

Two different rod and reel combinations will be required to efficiently go surf fishing for striped bass. The requirements for both types of fishing are a bit different. One is for casting artificial lures and the other for casting heavy natural baits. The outfit for casting lures will usually be a bit lighter than the heavier outfit for casting cut baits.

Best rod and reel for casting lures

surf fishing

Anglers casting lures need an outfit heavy enough to handle heavy lures while being light enough to cast repeatedly. The best rod and reel combination for surf fishing for striped bass is a 10 foot rod paired with a 6000 series reel and spooled up with 30 pound braided fishing line. This outfit will allow anglers to cast lures without getting exhausted while still handling the heavier lures and big surf. If anglers only want to purchase one surf fishing rod and reel, this would be a perfect combination.

Erica and Paulie highly recommend a 10 foot Tsunami Airwave Elite rod paired with a Penn Spinfisher 6 5500 spooled reel spooled up with 30lb braid. This outfit has served them well, especially for casting artificial lures.

Click links to shop Amazon for Tsunami rods and Penn reels

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Best rod and reel for bait fishing for striped bass in the surf

surf fishing for striped bass

Anglers casting natural baits, either live or cut, will require slightly different tackle. A heavier, longer rod is used to cast heavy baits and sinkers up to 8 ounces. However, many fewer casts will be made as once cast out the rod is held or put in a rod holder. Constantly casting a heavy rig would quickly tire most anglers out.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

striped bass fishing

The best rod and reel combination for surf fishing for striped bass with bait is a 13-15 foot rod, 8000 series reel, and 40 pound braided line. This will allow for long casts and handle the heavy gear. The longer rod will also help keep the line up over the waves. A similar conventional rod and reel can certainly be substituted for anglers who prefer that type of tackle.

Best rigs for surf fishing for striped bass

surf fishing for striped bass

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass will need to use the proper rigs in order to be successful. The rig used for casting artificial lures is pretty simple. Anglers simply use a 3 foot length of 60 lb flourocarbon leader, followed by a quality snap swivel. This allows for easy lure changes while also adding action to the lure. Striped bass do not have teeth. However, bluefish do have teeth and are often found mixed in with striped bass. Wire leaders are certainly an option, though strikes will be reduced, especially in clear water. Anglers will have to decide whether the risk of loosing lures is worth the extra bites. In most cases, sticking with flourocarbon leaders is the best option.

surf fishing for striped bass

Read more about surf fishing in this comprehensive article

Best bottom fishing rigs for striped bass

There are two basic rigs that will cover the vast majority of surf fishing situations that a striped bass angler will encounter. These are a fish finder rig and a 3 way rig. Both work well on striped bass and most other game fish caught in the surf.

surf fishing rigs

A fish finder rig uses a clever device that slides on the running line. A swivel stops it, then a leader is attached followed by the hook. This rig allows the striped bass to pick up the bait and move off with the bait without detecting the weight of the sinker.

fishing for river catfish

A # way rig uses a 3 way swivel tied to the main line. On one rung a leader and hook are attached. On the third rung a leader and the sinker. Anglers often use lighter line on the sinker drop, so if it snags only the sinker is lost.

Best hooks and sinkers for surf fishing

Anglers have a couple of different choices when it comes to sinkers. Most anglers use pyramid sinkers, they hold well in the sand. There are special variations of these that some anglers prefer. Bank sink are occasionally used, especially if it is desired to have the bait bouncing along the bottom.

surf fishing

Most anglers use circle hooks when surf fishing for striped bass. In several states, they are required by law. Circle hooks usually result in the bass being hooked in the mouth as opposed to swallowing it. A #3/0 is a good size for smaller striped bass and small baits. #7/0-#10/0 work best for big baits and big fish.

No matter the size of the circle hook, anglers need to just come tight and reel and not to set the hook. In surf fishing, this is really a natural reaction anyway, anglers using “J” hooks usually let the fish hook itself.

Surf fishing techniques for striped bass

surf fishing

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass will find fish of all sizes. Many will be “schoolies” that are numerous and great fun to catch. Larger fish, often called ‘cows” are more challenging. The two primary techniques are casting lures and bottom fishing with cut or live bait. However, the first order of business is locating fish.

Locating striped bass in the surf

Reading the beach” is a skill that takes years to master. To novice anglers, it all looks the same. However, to the trained eye there are clues that will dictate the best spots to fish. Some tips and techniques will be shared to help anglers find fish in the surf.

Inlets are top spots

striped bass fishing in the surf

One excellent strategy when surf fishing for striped bass is to choose a beach close to an inlet. Inlets have strong current flow and usually rocks or other structure. These factors combine to hold bait, and therefore striped bass. Fishing near inlets is a bit of a “shortcut” to learning a beach. Anglers do need to be VERY careful when wading as currents are strong.

Read more about striped bass fishing in this article by Capt Jim

Also, while maybe not technically surf fishing, many inlets have a jetty that anglers can access in which to fish. The rocks create eddies which striped bass will use as ambush points. Strong currents exist there as well. However, these spots can be quite crowded, especially on the weekend.

Cuts in bars are top surf fishing spots

Several bars run parallel to the beach, each a dozen or so yards apart. There are “cuts” in these bars. Striped bass and other game fish will use these bars to move in and out of the troughs. There are a couple different ways to locate these cuts. The easiest way is to scout the beach at low tide.

surf fishing

Waves will give anglers a clue as to the composition of the bars as well. The closer to the beach the waves break, the deeper the water. Gaps in breaking waves also can indicate a cut in the bar. The waves themselves will break on the bars, giving anglers great clues as to what lies underneath.

Find the bait, find the fish

There is one overriding principle that applies to most forms of saltwater fishing; fish will be near the “groceries”. That means that while they have other preferences, forage is the prime consideration, other than during spawning. Beaches that have bait fish showing or birds working are excellent areas to start fishing.

Tides are very important in surf fishing

Florida surf fishing

Understanding tides is very important when saltwater fishing, and anglers plying the surf are no exception. Tides will move fish and bait. If there is one general rule, it is that the two hours before and after the high tide are best for surf fishing. If this occurs at dawn or dusk, so much the better.

In spots such as Maine that experience huge tides, it can just be too difficult trying to fish when the tide is running hard. The slack water times of the turn of the tide are the only practical times to fish. However, the beach can be easier to read on low tide. Anglers fishing inlets usually prefer the outgoing tide.

Night time is the right time for surf fishing

striped bass

Like many game fish species, striped bass feed heavily at night. There are also several advantages for the angler. The crowds will be much thinner; only the serious anglers will be out on the beach at 2:00 a.m.! Anglers can go heavier with the leaders and tackle.

There are some disadvantages to surf fishing at night as well. Sharks and rays can be a huge nuisance for anglers soaking baits. Also, obviously it is more difficult to see, anglers need to put an emphasis on safety. In the fall and early spring, it can be downright chilly as well.

striped bass in surf

Find “breaking” fish

If there is one situation that anglers surf fishing for striped bass (and other species) relish, it is ‘breaking fish”. These are fish that have herded bait fish up to the surface and are ravaging them. In this situation, just about any lure that remotely resembles the forage will draw a strike. Bait can work, but these are prime conditions for casting lures.

Top artificial lures when surf fishing for striped bass

surf fishing for striped bass

There are several lure types that really shine when surf fishing for striped bass. These are spoons (and metals), jigs, and plugs. All three are heavy so that they cast well and imitate wounded bait fish. Local shops can be great sources of both information and lures, they know what produces in their particular area.


lues for surf fishing

Spoons are terrific surf fishing lures, perhaps the best. They are heavy and cast a mile, even into a stiff breeze. Spoons put out both flash and vibration, simulating wounded bait fish. Spoons are versatile lures that can be worked right on the surface for breaking fish as well as closer to the bottom. They are an excellent choice when blind casting off the beach.

Read this article on the best striped bass fishing lures

The top spoon for surf fishing for striped bass and other species in the Acme Kastmaster spoon. It is slender and aerodynamic, which results in long casts. It comes in several sizes and quite a few colors and finishes. These baits also come in a single hook version, which facilitates a healthy release.


Jigs are also very effective surf fishing lures. They can be cast and and reeled back in, this works well with shad style swim baits on a jig head. Bucktail jigs work very well when bounced along the bottom. Some anglers add a strip of squid or cut bait to make it even more attractive.

bucktail jig

The best bucktail jigs for saltwater fishing are Spro jigs. White is tough to beat and 3 ounces is a good all round size. One tip is to vary the weight of the jig to cover the entire water column. A lighter 1-2 ounce jig can be used to swim the upper part of the water column. Adding a strip of squid will help. A 3-5 ounce jig can be bounced right along the bottom in stronger currents.

Erica and Paulie really like the Tsunami line of soft plastic baits. The weighted sand eel is extremely effective, especially in the fall when the sand eels are running. The Tsunami Pro Swim Shad Holographic Swim Bait works well all season. They are available in several sizes and many different colors. White is a good place to start.

fishing from jetty


Plugs are the third style of artificial lure that works well in the surf. Plugs are hard bodied lures, usually plastic but can be wood as well, that mimic wounded bait fish. They come in many varieties from poppers and topwater plugs to diving plugs. However, plugs do have a couple of disadvantages. They can be fairly expensive and bluefish will cut them off the line. Also, plugs usually sport multiple treble hooks which can make handling and releasing the fish more challenging. Many anglers replace the treble hooks with singe hooks. VMC manufactures hooks specifically designed for this, the eye is turned inline with the hook. These facilitate a safe release while not reducing the hookup ratio.

mag darter


Erica’s personal favorite plug is the Yo-Zuri 5” floating mag darter in chartreuse during the day, and in blue/black at night. She caught her personal best striper on this lure! It was her go to plug when they weren’t biting anything else.

Rapala x rap


The top diving plug is the Rapala X-Rap Slashbait, size 12 is a good all around size.

Surf fishing for striped bass with natural bait

Many anglers choose to use live or cut bait when surf fishing for striped bass. While lures are productive and great fun to fish, there are times when the real thing will be more productive. There is the added benefit that bait will catch other desirable species as well.

Striped bass have a varied diet, feeding on bait fish, crustaceans, and other marine life. Bloodworms are a top bait used year round to catch striped bass. Clams are another excellent and universal bait. Fresh clams are desired. Striped bass love crabs, but they do not stay on the hook as well in surf fishing conditions. Sand fleas are another excellent bait used when surf fishing for striped bass.

surf fishing techniques and tips

While live bait fish are often used by anglers fishing for striped bass in boats, it really is not practical for anglers fishing the surf. It becomes problematic hauling bait buckets and aerators around. Also, live bait fish will often fly off on the cast. Fortunately, cut bait works just as good in most applications.

Just about any fresh caught fish can be cut up and used for bait, as long as it is legal to do so. Local bait shops that cater to anglers surf fishing are usually the best place for both bait and advice on the best baits for that particular area. Mullet, bunker (menhaden), mackerel are the top cut baits.

In conclusion, this article on surf fishing for striped bass will help anglers catch more fish!





Surf Fishing for Whiting – A Complete Guide

Surf Fishing for Whiting – A Complete Guide

This article will thoroughly cover surf fishing for whiting. Whiting are a plentiful, good tasting little fish that are a favorite among anglers fishing from the beach.

surf fishing for whiting

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Whiting, Menticirrhus americanus, are also known as southern kingfish, sea mullet, surf mullet, and king whiting. They are abundant in the waters off of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean beaches. Whiting only grow to a couple of pounds, but they put up a good fight and are terrific to eat.

Click this link to read more about surf fishing in Florida

Whiting are the perfect species for anglers who enjoy surf fishing. They are abundant, easy to catch, and taste great. What more could anyone ask for? Catching whiting is easy and uncomplicated and that is certainly part of the attraction. However, as in all fishing, there are tips and techniques that will help anglers be more successful.

fishing for whiting

Surf fishing for whiting

Anglers enjoy surf fishing for whiting from Texas to New England. They are found off of beaches throughout this range. There are some differences in tackle and technique for the two bodies of water, therefore, they will be covered separately.

Best baits for surf fishing for whiting

saltwater fishing with shrimp

The top bait used by anglers surf fishing for whiting is shrimp; either live, fresh dead, or frozen. Shrimp are available at just about every tackle shop that caters to saltwater anglers. There really is no need to go to the bother of keeping shrimp alive, fresh dead and frozen shrimp work just as well and are easier to use. Small shrimp can be used whole while larger shrimp can be cut in half or thirds.

Click to read more about surf fishing tackle

Whiting feed on crustaceans. Therefore, clams, oysters, crabs, and sand fleas are all effective baits. Clams stay on the hook better than oysters and crabs for anglers surf fishing for mullet. Squid are another productive bait for whiting and it will catch most other surf species as well. Fresh cut bait will produce as well.

surf fishing for whiting

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

There are several companies that manufacture and sell commercially prepared baits for anglers surf fishing. The two most popular currently are Fishbites and Fishgum. These are effective baits for whiting and pompano as well. The main advantage to these baits is the convenience. They are easily stored and always ready to go fishing without the smell or mess.

Click to shop Amazon for an affordable Berkley surf fishing rod and reel combo

Surf fishing for whiting in the Atlantic Ocean

Anglers surf fishing for whiting in the Atlantic Ocean use traditional surf fishing tackle and rigs. They are faced with the need to make long casts as well as dealing with a rough surf in many instances. A 10 foot to 12 foot medium action rod with a 6000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb braided line is a good all round combination.

surf fishing

Most whiting caught off Atlantic beaches are done so by anglers casting the basic spreader rig, also known as the high/low rig or chicken rig. A pair of #4 hooks and a 3 ounce pyramid sinker will cover most whiting fishing situations. Anglers go go up or down in weight as needed depending on waves and wind as well as distance needed on the cast. Small floats are often used to keep the bait up just off the bottom. The color acts as an attractant as well. These rigs can be purchased locally and online.

Anglers surf fishing for whiting will find them in various locations on the beach. At high tide, they will often be found close to shore, “in the wash” as it is termed. Fish will also be found on the front or back side of the bars. On the lower tide stages, whiting will often be found on the back side of the second or third bar.

surf fishing

Surf fishing for whiting in the Gulf of Mexico

Anglers surf fishing for whiting in the Gulf of Mexico often face different conditions. Most of the time the waves are much lower than what anglers will face in the Atlantic Ocean. Whiting are often caught quite close to shore. They will cruise the first trough, or “ditch” in search of food. For this reason, lighter tackle and rigs are often used.

sliding sinker rig

The same inshore tackle used by anglers to catch speckled trout and other species will be fine for surf fishing for whiting off of the calm Gulf of Mexico beaches. A sliding sinker rig works very well. This consists of a ¼ ounce or ½ ounce egg sinker, a swivel, and 2′ of 20 lb leader followed by a #4 hook. This rig will drift along the bottom, resulting in a very natural presentation. Shrimp are by far the top bait.

surf fishing

There are certainly situations where anglers fishing for whiting off of the beaches will need to use conventional surf fishing gear. The same tackle and baits used by anglers surf fishing in the Atlantic Ocean works fin in this situation.

Anglers can also use artificial lures when surf fishing for whiting in the Gulf of Mexico. The top lure by far is a jig. Small bucktail jigs used for pompano work fine as does a soft plastic grub on a jig head. Anglers can tip the jig with a small piece of shrimp, resulting in the best of both worlds and a very effective surf fishing combination. This can be used in the Atlantic on calm days as well.

Other locations to find whiting

fishing for whiting

While most whiting are caught by anglers surf fishing, they are caught in other locations as well. Passes and inlets are spots that will produce whiting. Sand bars in these areas along with deeper holes are good places to try. The same techniques used off the beach work well when targeting whiting in the passes and inlets from shore.

Anglers fishing in boats to well drift fishing for whiting in passes and inlets. A shrimp tipped jig bounced sharply off the bottom from a drifting boat is an extremely effective technique. It not only produces whiting, but it will fool just about every other inshore saltwater species.

More species caught while surf fishing for whiting

One terrific benefit that anglers surf fishing for whiting experience is that they will invariably catch other species as well. Just about every saltwater fish feeds on shrimp. Therefore, bottom fishing with shrimp will produce a wide variety of fish.


surf fishing

Perhaps the top by-catch of whiting anglers is pompano. In fact, in many cases it is the other way around; anglers surf fishing for pompano catch whiting. Pompano have a small mouth and feed primarily on crustaceans while often being found in the surf. Pompano are superb on the diner plate!

surf fishing



Redfish, also known as red drum, are certainly a possibility for any angler surf fishing from Texas to the mid Atlantic beaches. While they often take larger cut baits, redfish love shrimp and will put up a terrific fight, especially on lighter tackle. Redfish are very good to eat.


surf fishing for bluefish

Small bluefish are a commonly caught species by anglers surf fishing. These fish are aggressive and readily take just about any bait or lure. Larger bluefish will usually bite through the lighter leaders used for whiting. Smaller bluefish are decent to eat, but certainly do not top the list.

Speckled trout

surf fishing for speckled trout

Speckled trout are often caught by anglers surf fishing, especially all along the Gulf of Mexico coast. They hit almost all live and cut baits as well as most artificial lures. They are a beautiful species that are fun to catch and are terrific to eat.

Jack crevalle

surf fishing for jack crevalle

Jack crevalle are a very hard fighting saltwater game fish. They grow quite large as well, over 30 pounds. Jacks often move through in schools, feeding ferociously on the surface. They will take just about any lure or bait and are not considered good to eat.


surf fishing for sharks

Sharks are always a possibility for anglers surf fishing. Most sharks will cut through the light leader used for whiting fishing. However, smaller sharks that are hooked in the corner of the mouth can be landed, with a little luck. Obviously, they should be handled with care.


surf fishing for ladyfish

Ladyfish are a hard fighting and pretty fish that Florida and Gulf Coast anglers know well. Some consider them to be a nuisance. They are not good to eat by prized by many anglers to be used as cut bait.


Sheepshead are mostly associated with structure of some sort, but they will be found cruising the beaches as well. Sheepshead also feed primarily on crustaceans so shrimp are a top bait. They are very good to eat, though difficult to clean.

Black drum

surf fishing for black drum

Black drum are a commonly caught species by anglers surf fishing. They will readily devour shrimp. Black drum grow very large and will certainly challenge any angler that hooks one on a lighter rod and reel. Small drum are good eating, larger specimens get wormy.


Flounder are a prize for any angler surf fishing for whiting. They inhabit sandy bottoms and are often caught in the surf. Cut bait is usually the best bait for flounder, but they will certainly take shrimp as well as a jig bounced along the bottom. Flounder are fantastic eating!

In conclusion, this article on surf fishing for whiting will help anglers catch more of these fun and tasty saltwater species!


Best 11 Spinnerbait Fishing Lures

Best 11 Spinnerbait Fishing Lures

This post will list the best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures. Spinnerbaits are versatile lures that will fool just about every species in both fresh and salt water. Here is the list of Capt Jim’s favorite spinnerbaits.

best 11 smallmouth bass fishing lures

The best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures are;

  • Johnson Beetle Spin
  • Mister Twister spinnerbait
  • Strike King Mini spinnerbait
  • Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbait
  • Strike King Premier spinerbait
  • Terminator Spinnerbaits
  • Booyah Super Shad spinnerbaits
  • Booyah Pikee spinnerbait
  • Z-Man spinnerbaits
  • Molix spinnerbaits
  • Strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait


spinnerbait fishing for pike

Spinnerbait descriptions and characteristics

Spinnerbaits are odd looking lures in some ways. They consist of a wire arm that looks a bit like a safety pin. Many old-timers still refer to these lures as “safety pin lures”. A spinner blade or blades rides on the top arm. Most spinnerbaits use two blades; these are termed “tandem bladed spinnerbaits”.

A large single blade, usually a Colorado blade, works well in murky conditions. It puts out a steady vibration which attracts fish to the sound. Most tandem spinnerbaits use a combination of blades, usually a Colorado and a willow blade. However, the blade color, size, and style combinations are endless. In clearer water, this puts out a ton of flash with some vibration as well.

spinnerbait fishing

The hook rides on the lower arm. It is usually a molded in jig head, which provides weight for the spinnerbait to ride correctly. Rubber skirts are often used on the jig head. These undulate very naturally in the water. A grub body can be used as well. Some anglers even use both, adding a soft plastic “trailer” to the skirt.

Spinnerbait fishing tips

For the most part, spinnerbaits are used in fairly shallow water. Due to their design, spinnerbaits are fairly weedless. The wire arm tends to bounce of timber and rocks. Spinnerbaits also work through and over grass quite well without hanging up.

spinnerbait fishing tips

There are situations where smaller spinnerbaits are extremely effective. Anglers fishing for bluegill, crappie, and panfish use them often. Smaller bass and trout will certainly take them as well. Even large fish will hit a smaller spinnerbait when they are feeding on smaller bait fish.

Spinnerbaits can be worked in several ways. They can be “burned” on top, similar to a buzz bait. This will draw some ferocious strikes. In most cases, a steady retrieve with the bait working just above submerged vegetation or cover works best. Stopping the lure and allowing it to fall can be an effective tactic as well.

largemouth bass fishing in Florida

Anglers can also work spinnerbaits deeper in the water column. This is known as “slow rolling”. It basically means simply reeling the spinnerbait, often a heavier model, slowly so that it works near the bottom. Bouncing it off the bottom can be very effective. This technique works well in cold water when game fish are deeper and less active.

Click to read more about spinnerbait fishing

Small or finesse spinnerbaits

panfish Beetle spin

There are situations where smaller spinnerbaits are extremely effective. Anglers fishing for bluegill, crappie, and panfish use them often. Smaller bass and trout will certainly take them as well. Even large fish will hit a smaller spinnerbait when they are feeding on smaller bait fish.

Johnson Beetlespin

The Johnson Beetlespin is an unassuming looking little spinnerbait. It is first on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures. However, it is an extremely effective lure, especially for bluegill and panfish. The 1/16 ounce size works very well in most situations for panfish. Anglers chasing larger bluegill as well as crappie can bump it up to the 1/8 ounce size. Finally, the 1/4 ounce size is extremely effective for bass and ponds and streams.

Sarasota crappie fishing

Beetle spin spinnerbaits come in a wide variety of color patterns. Capt. Jim’s favorite Bettle spin is the simple silver blade with a black grub body with either a white or yellow stripe. Green would be his second favorite, followed by white. These lures look very simple in the package, but they really are incredibly effective fishing lures.

Florida panfish fishing

The beetle Spin bait Is as simple as they come. It has a single Colorado blade and a little grub body. As mentioned about, it works very well on panfish as well as bass. Anglers use them in small streams as well to fool smallmouth bass and rock bass. In most situation, a slow, steady presentation works best. Slower is almost always better. As long as the blade is rotating, it is moving fast enough.

beetle spin

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Beetlespin lures

Mister Twister spinnerbait

The Mister Twister spinnerbait is a terrific fishing lure for panfish, bass, walleye, and other species. The flash of the blade and the incredible action of the curly tail are irresistible to many fish. Like most spinner baits, especially when chasing panfish, the slower the retrieve the better. Chartreuse is by far Capt. Jim’s favorite color. It is second on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures.

fishing for panfish with spinnerbaits

The Mister Twister spinnerbait is a very versatile bait. Anglers can change the color and size to match the quarry and conditions. 1/8 ounce is a good all round size for large panfish, small bass, trout, and smallmouth bass. Anglers can go up in size to catch larger fish including walleye and northern pike.

mister twister spinnerbait

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for spinnerbait/grub lures

Strike King Mini spinnerbait

The Strike King Mini spinnerbait is next on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures. It is an excellent choice when fishing smaller bodies of water such as ponds, streams, and smaller rivers. it works on saltwater species as well when fish are feeding on smaller bait fish. They really shine in situations where larger spinner baits land too loudly or are too large and flashy. Strike King Mini spinnerbaits work very well right after the shad spawn as well.

best soft plastic lure

Anglers can choose from a variety of colors when using this bait. However, keeping it simple is a great approach. The hammered single Colorado blade puts out excellent flash and vibration. Capt Jim’s two favorite color patters are all black and chartreuse and white.



best small spinnerbait for bass fishing

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Strike King Mini Spinnerbaits

Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbait

The Booyah Pond Magic is another medium sized spinnerbait designed to fish smaller bodies of water. This bait also works well when fish are finicky, such as post cold front conditions. It is a tandem bladed bait and is a bit larger than the lures listed above. While a tandem spinnerbait, it does put out less commotion, due to the smaller blades. It is fourth on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures.

best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures

The thing that sets these spinnerbaits apart from others is that they come in some very enticing and unique color combinations that were specifically designed for fishing in small ponds and rivers. The crayfish pattern pictured below is particularly unique. It is extremely effective when fished in slower moving streams and small rivers. Smallmouth bass with hit it with gusto!

Booyah P:ond Magic

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbaits

Full sized spinnerbaits

There are many companies that manufacture quality spinnerbaits. It would be impossible to list them all and no slight is meant for those that are omitted. Most of these larger spinner baits are tandem bladed baits. They are offered and combinations of willow leaf, Colorado, and Indiana blades. The following is a list of larger spinnerbaits that are available in multiple sizes and colors for anglers to use.

bass fishing in Florida

Strike King Spinnerbaits

Strike King is a leader in the industry when it comes to spinnerbaits. The Strike King Mini spinnerbait has already been mentioned in the smaller spinnerbait section. There are several other Strike King spinner baits that anglers should consider using on a variety of species. The Premier Plus spinner bait by Strike King is an outstanding lure. It is a tandem bladed spinner bait. The baits are available in many blade size, style, and color combinations.

strike king premier

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Strike King Premier spinnerbaits

The Strike King Finesse KVD Spinnerbait is a bit smaller in size and profile. This is an excellent spinnerbait choice in very clear water, especially in the cooler months when bait tends to be smaller. It is a tandem bladed spinnerbait and also has a smaller profile skirt. Like all Strike King spinner baits, it is a stout lure made with quality components.

kvd spinnerbait

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for KVD spinnerbaits

spinnerbait fishing

Terminator spinnerbaits

The Terminator line of spinnerbaits is well-known in the fishing world to be an incredibly tough and durable fishing lure. It is made from quality components and has a frame that bounces back into shape. Terminator spinnerbaits use quality ball bearings swivels on the blades. The head of the jig was specifically designed to be especially weedless. Terminator spinner baits come in a variety of color combinations.


Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Terminator spinnerbaits

Booyah spinnerbaits

Booyah spinnerbaits have taken the market by storm in a relatively short amount of time. They offer several different spinnerbait models that are both durable and effective. These super shad spinner bait is unique in that it comes with four willow leaf blades. This results in the lure mimicking a small school of fish, similar to the Alabama rigs, but much easier to cast.

fishing with spinnerbaits

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Booyah Super Shad spinnerbaits

Booyah offers a complete line of spinnerbait options for anglers. The choice is endless, single and tandem bladed baits with combinations of Colorado, Indiana, and willow leaf blades are available in a variety of sizes. The Booyah Pikee spinner bait is the best lure on the market for anglers who want to cast a spinner bait for pike or musky. It is next on the list of best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures.


Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Booyah Pikee spinnerbaits

Z-Man spinnerbaits

Z-Man is another company that offers quality spinnerbaits to anglers. They are all tandem bladed baits that are available in a combination of blades along with skirt color options. These baits are constructed with quality components and are both durable and effective.

best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Z-Man spinnerbaits

Molix spinnerbaits

Molix spinnerbaits are premium lures that use high quality components. They are Kayla’s personal favorite baits. Discerning anglers who want to use the best may choose to use these lures. Like most manufacturers, Molix offers anglers a variety of color combinations in both skirts and blades.

spinnerbait fishing

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Molix spinnerbaits

Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The Redfish Magic is one of the the first spinnerbaits designed for saltwater anglers. It is an excellent search bait that can cover a lot of water when fishing expansive flats. While primarily designed for redfish in the shallows, it will catch spotted sea trout, snook, jacks, and other species as well. It comes with a large, single gold blade with a paddle tail grub body.

redfish magic

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Redfish Magic spinnerbaits

In conclusion, this article on the best 11 spinnerbait fishing lures and techniques should encourage anglers to take advantage of these very effective lures which are easy to use!

Fishing for Triggerfish – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Fishing for Triggerfish – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

The topic of this article will be fishing for triggerfish. Triggerfish are a hard fighting and very tasty species. They are often caught by anglers fishing for other bottom fish. However, they have a devoted following and are targeted specifically by many anglers.

fishing for triggerfish

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Triggerfish, get their name from the way their dorsal fin will retract when the rear spine is pushed down, or triggered. Most triggerfish caught by anglers in North America are grey triggerfish, or Balistes capriscus. They are an aggressive species that are found along the United States coastline from Texas to the mid Atlantic as well as in the Caribbean Sea.

Triggerfish are quite aggressive compared to many other species. However, that does not mean that they are easy to catch. The primary reason for this is that triggerfish have a very small mouth in relation to their size. This mouth is often compared to a parent with beak like teeth. This allows triggerfish to nibble a bait off without getting hooked.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Triggerfish habits and locations

Triggerfish, like most bottom fish species, almost always relate to structure of some sort. This can be natural hard bottom and coral, ledges, artificial reefs, and wrecks. Triggerfish are rarely found in the inshore bays or passes and inlets. However, they can be found fairly close to shore in many instances, making them an excellent target for anglers with smaller boats.

triggerfish fishing

Smaller ledges and patches of hard bottom that go unnoticed by anglers fishing for grouper and other species are prime spots to target triggerfish. These smaller areas are more difficult to find and to properly position on. However, they will often produce plenty of triggerfish along with snapper and other bottom species. That is one terrific advantage that anglers have when fishing for triggerfish, invariably other species will crash the party.

Best triggerfish fishing tackle

The same tackle that anglers use when bottom fishing for smaller snapper and other species will work fine for triggerfish. Medium spinning tackle and light conventional outfits work very well. Spinning outfits are best and reasonably shallow water where a heavy sinker is not required. Light conventional tackle works best in deeper water or and spots with strong currents where a heavier sinker is needed.

fishing for triggerfish

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

A 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 to 4000 series reel spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination for anglers who prefer spinning outfits. A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot conventional rod with a 2230 series reel and 30 pound braided line works well for anglers who prefer that type of equipment.

Click links to shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional outfits

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Best hooks and rigs for triggerfish fishing

As mentioned above, triggerfish have a very small mouth. For this reason, they have earned a reputation as being very difficult to catch. In many instances, this is simply because the hooks being used are two large for their smaller mouth. Scaling down and hook size will dramatically increase the catch ratio when targeting triggerfish. These smaller hooks will be fine for snapper and other species as well. Remember, small hooks will catch big fish, but big hooks will rarely catch smaller fish.


Many anglers fishing for triggerfish and other bottom species have gone to circle hooks. In the Gulf of Mexico, they are required. Anglers must use non-stainless steel non-offset circle hooks for any type of reef fishing. Circle hooks dramatically reduce fish mortality as when properly used the hook almost always ends up in the corner of the fishes mouth. For anglers targeting triggerfish, a 2/0 circle hook is an excellent all round size.

For the most part, this is basic, simple bottom fishing. It is hard to beat the tried-and-true high low, or chicken rig. This allows anglers to present a couple different baits at a couple different depths in a vertical presentation. These rigs are available commercially, however most anglers tie their own. Three-way swivels can be used, but simple loop knots with a hook on the end work fine.

chicken rig

Top triggerfish baits

Triggersfish will respond the same baits that produce grouper, snapper, flounder, and other species. Squid is a top bait as it is easily obtained, stays on the hook well, and triggerfish love them. Frozen sardines are another very effective triggerfish bait that is readily available at bait shops. Clams, oysters, and octopus are productive as well.

fishing for triggerfish

Small pieces of just about any fresh caught cut bait were great and stay on the hook quite well. Live shrimp produces triggerfish, however is a bit more expensive than some other bait and does not stay on the hook as long.

One popular technique when using the chicken rig is to try a couple of different baits at once. While triggerfish are not notoriously fussy, there are days when one bait will outproduce another. By trying to different baits on the same rig, anglers can quickly identify the bait that fish want that particular day.

Triggerfish fishing techniques

Fishing for triggerfish is not overly complicated. The first order of business is to position the boat over the structure that is to be fished. Anglers can choose to either anchor or drift, depending on the depth, size of the structure, and wind. GPS electric trolling motors have revolutionized bottom fishing as they allow anglers very precise boat control.

triggerfish fishing

The presentation is basically the same when fishing for triggerfish for anglers both anchoring and drifting. Drifting will probably require a bit heavier weight in order to keep the line vertical. This is very important as it both reduces the chances for snags as well as increases hookups.

Once in position, the baits are lower to the bottom. Veteran anglers fishing for triggerfish use heavier weights than might otherwise be needed for a couple of reasons. A heavier weight will maintain the desirable vertical presentation, despite wind and strong currents. Also, the rig falling quickly through the water column to the bottom will virtually eliminate smaller fish nibbling the bait off on the way down.

How to hook triggerfish

As previously mentioned, triggerfish have a reputation for being notoriously difficult to hook. There are a couple of techniques that will help anglers improve their success ratio. One tactic that works well is to very slowly start reeling up the rig as soon as it touches the bottom. This will keep the line tie, taking it easier to feel bites. It will also require the triggerfish to rise up off the bottom to feed on bait that is seemingly escaping.

It is imperative that when fishing for triggerfish (and other species), especially when using circle hooks, to not set the hook when a bite is detected. The best technique is to keep the rod tip low and wait out the little nibbles or taps. Once a steady pull is felt, the angler should real fast tightening up the line and getting the circle hook turning in the fishes mouth. Once hooked, the rod tip can be raised up and the fish reeled in. This technique actually works best when using “J” hooks as well.

Catching triggerfish on the surface

Triggerfish will at times be found feeding on the surface. This will happen naturally when weeds are present. Triggerfish will move up in the water column to feed on forage that is hiding in the weeds. They also respond quite well to chum and will rise up off the bottom into the chum slick to feed.

When triggerfish are encountered on the surface, whether naturally or chummed up, obviously a heavyweight is not desirable. A simple free line rig of a hook and maybe just a split shot or two will be all that is required. Spinning outfits are better than conventional rigs in this application.

Leaders for bottom fishing

In most situations, a 30 pound to 50 pound fluorocarbon leader is the best choice when fishing for triggerfish. They are usually fairly aggressive and willing to bite once located. This is especially true when the water is a bit stirred up and has some color to it. The heavier leader also gives anglers a fighting chance in the event that a larger grouper or other species is.

There will be times when triggerfish will be fussy and reluctant to bite. This can be especially true when the water is clear and the seas are calm. Under these conditions, anglers may enjoy more success by going lighter on the leader as well as the weight. This will also benefit anglers fishing in areas where mangrove snapper are present, which are notoriously line shy in clear water.

Triggerfish are terrific to eat

While triggerfish put up an excellent battle when hooked with the appropriate tackle, they are mostly prized for their incredibly tasty snow white fillets. Triggerfish are fantastic eating! With their increased popularity has come more regulations. Anglers need to check their local regulations, keeping in mind that they are often different for state and federal waters.

One downside to keeping triggerfish to eat is that they are fairly difficult to clean. Triggerfish half incredibly tough skin and a sharp knife is required. They also have fairly large rib cages and bones. Finally, the fillet is not huge in relation to the fishes size. However, all of this work is worth it once the triggerfish is properly prepared and served on a plate.

In conclusion, this article on fishing for triggerfish will help anglers understand the little nuances that will result in more success!

Fishing for Striped Bass – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Fishing for Striped Bass – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

This article will thoroughly cover fishing for striped bass. Striped bass, also known as stripers and rockfish are an extremely popular game fish. They are a bit unusual in that they thrive in both freshwater and saltwater environments.

striped bass fishing

Striped bass, Morone saxatilis, are the most popular inshore saltwater game fish in the Northeast. They range from Maine down to South Carolina. Anglers catch them trolling, casting, using live bait, and surf fishing. They have also been transplanted successfully in many large freshwater lakes. There is also a population of striped bass in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River. They grow quite large with the world record being a touch over 80 pounds.

Striped bass distribution

In salt water, striped bass are found from the mid Atlantic off of the Carolina coast north into Canada. Striped bass were also introduced into San Francisco Bay. In both of these saltwater environments, striped bass migrate up into freshwater rivers to spawn. On the East Coast, the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Hudson River host the majority of spawning striped bass. On the West Coast, the Sacramento River accomplishes this.

inshore saltwater fishing

Striped bass have been introduced into many freshwater reservoir systems with great success. Most of these impoundments were created in the 1960s and 1970s and created fantastic largemouth bass fisheries. However, over the course of time much of the flooded timber has rotted and bass moved to man-made structure especially docks.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

striped bass fishing

With so much open water available, striped bass and forage such as herring and shad were introduced into these waters. Striped bass flourish in these large lakes as they are mostly open water predators. Dams do restrict spawning in many of these lakes is restricted by dams, therefore striped bass are stocked regularly.

Striped bass habits

Striped bass are open water predators. They are most often found in fairly large schools. Striped bass have a varied diet and are opportunistic feeders. However, they primarily feed on bait fish, particularly herring and shad in freshwater and menhaden (bunker), herring, mackerel, sand eels, and other bait fish in saltwater.

fishing for striped bass

Striped bass are often seen feeding on the surface. Anglers call this “breaking fish” and it is very exciting! Just about any flashy lure will draw a strike when fish are actively feeding like this. Trolling works well when striped bass are suspended below the surface.

Anglers do catch striped bass by casting lures and baits towards shoreline cover, mostly in saltwater situations. They will be found on bars and flats seeking forage. Striped bass can also be caught up in rivers as they migrate to spawn.

Striped bass fishing tackle

Lake Murray striped bass

The best striped bass fishing tackle varies, depending on the size of the fish and the technique being used. Medium spinning tackle works well for casting lures. A medium heavy baitcasting/conventional outfit is a good all-round choice. Heavy conventional tackle is required for trolling. Typical surf fishing gear works fine off the beach.

Anglers can read more about striped bass fishing tackle and lures in this article by Capt Jim

Spinning tackle is very versatile. It is the best choice for anglers casting lighter lures and smaller live baits for average sized striped bass in both fresh and saltwater. A 7′ medium action rod with a 3000-4000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb braided line is an excellent rod and reel combination.

surf fishing for striped bass

Baitcasting tackle certainly has it’s place when fishing for striped bass. It works very well when casting heavier lures and live baits as well as having the power to handle a decent fish. A baitcasting outfit also works great for chunking, bottom fishing, and light tackle trolling. A 7′ to 7 ½’ medium heavy outfit with 30 lb braid works great.

Anglers can shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Anglers serious about striped bass fishing and seeking larger fish will need some heavy conventional tackle. This is used for trolling mostly, but can also be used to present live or cut bait to large fish. The venerable Penn 4/0 outfit works very well.

surf fishing

Surf fishing for striped bass is very popular for anglers all along the east coast. Standard surf fishing gear works fine and most anglers already have the proper equipment. For those that do not, a 12” medium heavy spinning outfit is a good place to start.

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Striped bass fishing techniques

There are several techniques that are productive for anglers fishing for striped bass. These include drifting, trolling, casting lures, and bottom fishing. Some techniques even kind of cross over.

Carolina game fish

Drift fishing

Drifting can be an effective technique to locate and catch striped bass. This is particularly true in cooler water when striped bass are in deeper water, close to the bottom. This works well in saltwater where tidal flow will keep the boat moving. It can be used when freshwater fishing for striped bass as well.

Drift fishing is effective because it keeps the bait in the strike zone for the maximum amount of time while searching for fish. Live and cut bait are often used. However, anglers can vertically present a jig or spoon as well. The best spots to drift are ledges, sunken islands, wrecks and reefs, and near schools of bait.

Trolling for striped bass

Trolling is an extremely effective technique for catching striped bass. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water while presenting multiple baits or lures at various depths. One a particular pattern emerges, anglers can focus in on that bait and depth to catch a lot of fish.

trolling for striped bass

Anglers can troll with both live bait and artificial lures. Slowly trolling a live herring or shad is the predominant method for taking big striped bass in freshwater lakes. Downriggers and sinkers are used to get the baits down to the desired depth. The boat is moved slowly, just enough to keep the lines straight. Channel edges are top spots as are any area where bait fish is plentiful.

Read more about trolling techniques in this article

Most anglers trolling for striped bass in saltwater use artificial lures. They can be trolled faster which helps anglers find the fish more quickly. Spoons, jigs, and plugs are all effective lures to use. Anglers should try to match the lure to the size of the available forage. Local tackle shops are an excellent source of information as to what lures produce in a particular area.

Plugs are great for trolling because no other gear is required, the lip on the plug will get it down in the water column. Spoons and jigs require trolling sinkers, downriggers, wire line, or planers. A trolling sinker followed by 10′ to 20′ of leader and then the lure is perhaps the easiest method. Planers work great as well, once an angler gets used to setting them.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

Umbrella rigs are interesting rigs that are mostly used for striped bass fishing, though smaller versions are used by largemouth bass fishing (known as Alabama rigs). They allow anglers to present several lures at once. The rig mimics a school of bait fish, jigs are most often used. It is a bit cumbersome, but effective.

Fishing for striped bass with lures

Anglers fishing for striped bass can catch them casting lures as well. This is similar to other styles of fishing as anglers work a shoreline or flat while casting lures in search of fish. A lead head jig with a 4” to 6” soft plastic bait works very well. Plugs and spoons will also produce when blind casting. Many striped bass caught by anglers surf fishing do so casting lures.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

As mentioned earlier, one of the most exciting striped bass fishing situations occurs when fish are found feeding on the surface. This occurs in both lakes and in saltwater. Bass “trap” the helpless bait against the surface and then feed aggressively. Birds are often a sign that feeding stripers are in the area.

Read about the best striped bass fishing lures in this article

Spoons, plugs, and jigs all work well in this situation. Anglers fly fishing can get in on the action as well. Fish really are not that fussy and will hit most lures that are presented well. The main factor to pay attention to is boat position. It is important to be as patient as possible and work the edges of the fish. Driving through the middle of them will often result in the striped bass going deep. Vertically jigging a spoon works great when this happens.

Fishing for striped bass with bait

Plenty of anglers fishing for striped bass do so using basic bottom fishing techniques. Fishing with live or cut bait on the bottom produces every saltwater species and striped bass are no exception. Bottom fishing with cut and chunk bait work very well for anglers surf fishing for striped bass.

top Tennessee game fish species

Live bait works fine for bottom fishing, especially in saltwater, but cut bait is as productive and easier to use. Cut bait stays on the hook longer as well, which is an issue when crabs and bait-stealers are around. Any fresh caught fish that is legal to use will produce. Oily fish such as mackerel and menhaden are particularly effective.

Live bait is certainly used as well, but more often it is free lined or trolled as opposed to fished right on the bottom. These include herring, shad, menhaden, bloodworms, eels, and more. This technique works very well around bridges at night, some very large fish are caught doing this.

Fishing for striped bass in rivers

Many anglers enjoy fishing for striped bass in rivers. This is usually best in spring as stripers go on a spawning run. In lakes with dame, the fish often are forced to stop and school up at the tailwaters of dams. These can be fantastic fishing spots as fish are ganged up and forage comes through or over the dam.

top 13 Chesapeake Bay game fish

While these are terrific spots, anglers do need to be very careful as currents can be strong. Drifting with bait or lures or casting lures will produce fish. Anglers can often fish these spots from the shoreline, eliminating the need for a boat.

Free flowing rivers will see striped bass migrating very far upriver, to portions where it becomes totally fresh. The major tributaries of the Cheasapeake Bay are important spawning grounds. The Hudson River sees a lot of striped bass as well. On the west coast, the Sacramento River gets a nice push of fish as well.

Drifting through deep holes is productive when fishing for striped bass in rivers. In slower moving rivers, trolling will also produce fish. As it shallows up, bumping a jig along the bottom works quite well.

Inlets are excellent spots to target striped bass. This is especially true for anglers without a boat, as most inlets have jetties which allow anglers access. The best time to fish inlets is generally on the turn of the tide, when the current flow is reduced. It is difficult to fish when the current is running hard through the inlet.

inshore saltwater fishing

Anglers fishing the inlets can choose to use both natural and artificial baits. Those casting poppers and other plugs along with spoons and jigs do quite well when working parallel to the rocks. They will also make opportunistic cast whenever breaking fish pop up. Anglers bottom fishing need to constantly adjust the weight in order to minimize snags. Often times, the best spot to bottom fish is on the backside of the jetty where there is a sandy bottom and a current eddy.

East Coast striped bass

Striped bass spawn in the brackish tributary rivers. Chesapeake Bay is responsible for about 80% of the striped bass spawning activity. The Hudson River in New York is second in that regard. Juvenile striped bass spend the first couple years in the freshwater and brackish rivers before migrating out to the open water. Striped bass can live up to 30 years old.

fishing inlets

Striped bass can be caught using a wide variety of angling techniques. They are caught drift fishing, trolling, sight fishing, chumming, fly fishing, and surf fishing.

Striped bass fishing techniques

Anglers choosing to drift with natural bait will have success use in both live and cut bait. A free lined pogy or menhaden is a deadly bait for a trophy striped bass. Small live eels are used as well, especially in Chesapeake Bay around the bridges. Cut bait such as strips or chunks of fresh fish and squid will also produce. Anglers choosing to drift while using artificial lures will do well with jigs and heavy vertical jigging spoons.

Some anglers choose to anchor and chum a spot, rather than drifting it. This can be an extremely productive technique. The boat is anchored up on a drop off, piece of hard bottom, or other likely spot. Menhaden oil or other chum is dispersed with the tide from the stern. Several rods are rigged and hooked up with chunks of fresh baits such as pogy or menhaden. Any oily fish will work; bluefish and mackerel are fine baits. It is important to use circle hooks in this application to reduce the number of fish that are gut hooked. Many states require this by law.

Top east coast striped bass fishing spots

Striped bass fishing in Maine

Starting in the north, Maine now has reliable fishing for striped bass once again. After several down years, the numbers of fish are back up again. Biologists credit tough regulations along the east coast and plentiful bait fish as the main reasons for the resurgence.

Susquehanna River striped bass

Fish show in the the southern part of the state in May. They will move as far north as Penobscot Bay by late June. Mackerel, either live or in chunks, is a top striper bait. Any fresh cut bait will work at times. Sand worms and blood worms are also effective baits. Poppers, diving plugs, spoons, and jigs are the top choices for anglers who prefer artificial baits.

Striped bass fishing in Massachusetts

Striped bass show up off of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay in late April and stay until fall. Smaller fish are usually first to show up, followed by the larger specimens. Massachusetts offers anglers fantastic striped bass fishing when conditions are right. Fish will be caught in Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, and off the area beaches.

Anglers fishing from boats catch striped bass trolling and drifting. However, the most exciting fishing is when schools of fish are “breaking” on the surface. Just about any lure will draw a strike. Surf fishing is extremely popular in this area as well. Cape Cod is famous for surf fishing for stripers and other species.

Striped bass fishing in New York and New Jersey

Long Island sound and the New York and New Jersey beaches offer fantastic striped bass fishing. Fish show up in mid April and stay until Thanksgiving. Anglers can target them by trolling, drifting, casting, and surf fishing. Sight casting to large fish in shallow water is great sport!

spinnerbait fishing techniques

The fall blitzes off of Montauk are legendary. Fish will be seen busting on top throughout the area. Boating can be intense, especially on the weekends. The key to the fishing is the abundance of bait. This attracts the striped bass as they migrate through and they feed heavily, especially in the fall.

The Hudson River is responsible only behind Chesapeake Bay for producing juvenile striped bass. The fishing during the spring run can be epic. The prime time is from mid-April to mid-May. All of the same techniques produce in the river as in the saltwater.

Striped bass fishing the coast

Kirsten Holloway fishes the New Jersey Coast north of Atlantic City. As far as bass fishing on the Great Egg Harbor river goes, she catches fish on a variety of baits depending on the month of the year. In these pictures, the fish were caught in the spring time when the fish enter the river for spawning. At this time, the fish are after bloodworms and herring. Since the use of herring as bait has been outlawed, we have came up with some alternatives.

striped bass spots

Most of these fish were caught as I like to refer to it as “chunkin”. I will use a hi-lo rig to catch a few smaller perch. I will then use the perch as bait and allow the bass to find the chunk, while staying anchored. It has seemed to work very well. If that isn’t working or I am looking to stay busy, I have also caught quite a few bass with a commonly used lure known as the “SP minnow” made by Daiwa.

Striped bass fishing, Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay is responsible for producing 80% of the east coast striped bass. The myriad of tributaries gives spawning fish plenty of places to reproduce. It also offers juvenile fish a place to feed and grow safely. Trolling produces most of the larger fish. Anglers can drift baits and lures as well as cast to fish.

inshore fishing for stripers

Kayla Haile has been fishing the Susquehanna since before she could walk. Her dad would take her fishing there and taught Kayla everything she knows about fishing the river. She currently runs an 1860 G# jet boat. She primarily fishes the Susquehanna below the Cowingo Dam, but knows the Chesapeake Bay as well.

The Chesapeake Is a very diverse fishery. It starts as a river to the north and is almost like an ocean at the mouth. Tributaries hold juvenile fish before they migrate out into the open bay. Mature fish spawn in these rivers and creeks as well.

Striped bass fishing the Susquehanna River

Kayla fishes the lower Susquehanna River below Cowingo Dam. The best fishing is in late spring when the water temperature is around 65°. She likes a 6’7″ medium heavy St. Croix rod, Diawa B&G reel spooled with 30 pound HI-SEAS Grand Slam Braided line.

Tailwater fishing tips

Striped bass are mostly feeding on white perch at this time. Kayla has good success with a white Sassy Shad soft plastic swim bait on a 3/4 ounce jig head. This bait mimics the white perch that are in the river. Water clarity will affect bait choice. White or pearl is a great all round color. Most of the large striped bass are in shallow water. They put up a great and challenging fight around the rocks and other structure.

Fishing Chesapeake Bay

The entire Chesapeake Bay watershed can be productive. Numerous rivers will hold striped bass in the spring as they spawn. Larger rivers such as the Potomac, Rappahanock, Patuxent, and Choptank are normally best. The mouths of these rivers are good again in the fall. In the warmer months, most of the larger fish will be found in the main channel where the water is deeper.

Virginia river fishing

Breaking fish are plentiful most years in the fall. Many of these are “schoolies” of around 20”, but are fun on light tackle. The late bite at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the south end of the bay is legendary. Anglers also catch fish off the surf, especially near the inlets, during the season. Night fishing around the Bay Bridge can be very good.

Striped bass fishing in the Carolinas

Striped bass are plentiful as far down the coast as South Carolina. The Hatteras beaches in North Carolina are famous for surf fishing for striped bass and other species. These isolated barrier islands jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. Anglers come from all over the country to try their hand at surf fishing.

Most anglers surf fishing for striped bass take a two-pronged approach. They keep a 10 foot surf rod rigged up with a popper, plug, spoon, or jig. They they will also have a heavier 14 foot outfit. The heavier rig is baited up with a chunk of bait such as mullet or herring. While waiting for a bite, the lighter rod is used to cast whenever activity is seen.

Massachusetts striped bass

Albermarle Sound and Pamlico Sound are large inshore bays that offer good striped bass fishing as well. Tributaries into the sounds as well as the inshore bays and rivers south to the Georgia state line offer good angling opportunities as well. The same techniques that work up north work well in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Freshwater striped bass fishing

Striped bass are a huge success story in larger freshwater lake and river systems. As flooded timber has rotted, largemouth bass fishing slowed. Striped bass and herring were introduced, and the stripers flourished! This is particularly true in the Tennessee Valley Authority lakes throughout the Southeast. Dams often prevent spawning, however some sytems are free flowing. While the following article is about Lake Murray, SC, the tactics will work anywhere freshwater striped bass are found.

Lake Murray Striped Bass fishing, Tips and Techniques

This article will focus on catching Lake Murray striped bass. Lake Murray offers excellent fishing for these transplanted game fish, along with bass, catfish, crappie, and other species.

umbrella rig for stripers

Lake Murray is a reservoir in the center of the state of South Carolina. It is 41 miles long and approximately 50,000 acres in size with around 500 miles of shoreline. Lake Murray was impounded in the late 1920s to provide hydroelectric power to the state of South Carolina. South Carolina were an innovator and began stocking striped bass in the late 60’s. Striped bass thrive in this freshwater fishery and are caught using several techniques.

Jacki Gillen is the “Lake Murray correspondent” for the site. She knows the lake well and primarily targets striped bass. Jacki was born in Norfolk, Virginia and grew up in the Lexington area of South Carolina. She spent many summers saltwater fishing with her grandfather in Chesapeake Bay along with freshwater fishing with her father in South Carolina.

Striped bass fishing fever!

It has only been in the last few years that she has found a new love for striped bass fishing with her husband on Lake Murray. Jacki also really enjoys offshore fishing and Charleston, South Carolina and in the Florida Keys. She owns J Hooker Fishing with her husband Jacob. Jacki is on the Striper Sniper pro staff and has great success using their products.

striper fishing Lake Murray

Striped bass are a saltwater game fish that were introduced into freshwater lakes in the early 70’s. Stripers spawn in freshwater and brackish rivers. Biologists were confident that they would do well in large freshwater lakes. They were correct! Striped bass do require fresh, flowing water to spawn. Santee Cooper is the only lake in South Carolina that has this environment. Therefore, Lake Murray striped bass do not reproduce. A million 1” fish are stocked each year.

Lake Murray striped bass forage

Striped bass feed primarily on bait fish. The primary forage species are threadfin shad followed by the gizzard shad. However, most and guides seem to prefer fishing with the blueback herring. These herring were not natural to Lake Murray, but were introduced by fishermen in 1985 and are now an established forage fish. Jacki does fine using herring and gizzard shad. Bait can be caught but Jacki prefers the convenience of picking it up at local bait shops.

The lures that Jacki uses and recommends when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass mimic these shad species in size and color. Bait size changes as they grow. Successful anglers “match the hatch” by keeping up with the size shad that the stripers are feeding on.

Lake Murray striped bass fishing tackle

Anglers need both spinning tackle and conventional tackle when targeting Lake Murray striped bass. Spinning tackle is used to cast to breaking fish (fish that are feeding on the surface) and for vertical jigging. Jacki prefers a 7 foot rod matched with a 3000-5000 series reel. She uses 20-30 lb braided line. No leader is required as the lure is tied directly to the braid.

Trolling requires heavier tackle. The strain of the larger lures and rigs dictates the use of light conventional equipment. Not to mention that there is always a chance to hook a very large fish as well as multiple fish at one time. Jacki uses 7′ rods, Penn 30 series conventional reels, and 50 lb test line on her trolling outfits.

Umbrella rigs are effective on Lake Murray striped bass

Umbrella rigs are very productive when trolling for Lake Murray striped bass. They can be a bit cumbersome and will tangle when multiple fish are hooked. Umbrella rigs are basically larger versions of the “Alabama rigs” that largemouth bass anglers have made popular. They do a great job of imitating a school of shad. Jacki prefers Capt. Mack’s un-rigged nine bait umbrella rigs. She pairs them all with Striper Sniper buck tail jigs, snake worms, and swim shad baits.

winter striped bass fishing

Striper Sniper 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce white buck tail jigs are tied on each arm of the umbrella rig. The leaders are 6 inches long. A Striper Sniper 10” snake worm or 6” swim bait is added to the jig for extra action. White, chartreuse, glitter, lemon lime, blue pearl, and sun drop are the top producing colors. They have recently introduced a new color called American eel which is next on the list to be tested

Lake Murray striped bass seasons

There are two basic seasons when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass; warm water and cool water. The water temperature is critical to striper migrations. Anglers need to be aware of this migration pattern and adjust accordingly. There is no real “calendar” as every year is different when it comes to weather. Here is Jacki’s advice for adapting to the two “seasons”.

Cooler weather striped bass fishing, fall and winter;

“Once the water temperatures begin to drop, the striped bass tend to start heading back towards the rivers and start coming up closer to the surface even schooling at the surface. We use umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH closer to the boat. This keeps them at or above 20 feet below the surface.

We also use planer boards with live herring trolled at about .5 – 1 MPH. We set the lines out 20-30 feet behind the planer. A 3 foot flourocarbon leader of 20-30 lb test is used. A # 3/0 hook completes the rig. We will occasionally run a flat line down the middle, quite a ways back.

Nothing beats casting artificial lures to breaking fish! I always keep a spinning outfit rigged with a topwater plug handy. My favorite bait is a Yo-Zuri 1 ounce plug. I use this when the fish are staying up on the surface. I also keep a Striper Sniper jig with a swim bait ready to go. This works well when fish surface quickly then go down. The jig will get down into the water column.”

Warm water striped bass fishing, spring and summer;

”Once the water begins to warm up, the striped bass start to head back to deeper water away from the rivers and towards the Lake Murray Dam. Anglers fishing in summer should always be able to see the dam. If not, you are too far away. We still use the umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH. However, we do so further from the boat to keep them in the 35 – 50 foot range, the lower the better.

We have also been able to put our smaller lighter weight rigs and crank baits on downriggers to drop them into the 60 – 80 foot range. Mid-Summer is also tower fishing season. We tie up to the towers at the Dam and drop live and/or cut bait herring typically to around 60 – 80 foot depths. We use a 1 ounce weight and a 3/0 hook.

Night fishing is a great way to escape the heat and catch some fish. Striped bass feed heavily at night, particularly in the summer time. Anglers do need to be more careful when fishing and boating in the dark. Summer storms can be an issue as well.

Additional Lake Murray species

While Jacki primarily concentrates on striped bass, Lake Murray offers excellent angling for other species. Largemouth bass are arguable the most popular species in the Lake. Much has been written about fishing for bass in the lake. Crappie and panfish are plentiful and Lake Murray has an excellent catffish population. Anglers can find more info and some great links about Lake Murray fishing in this link.

Sacramento striped bass fishing

This article will focus on Sacramento striped bass fishing. There are several rivers in the Sacramento, California area that offer anglers excellent fishing opportunities.

Sacramento River striped bass

The Sacramento River is the largest river in California. Stretching over 400 miles from the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains to Suisun Bay, it drains an area of about 27,000 square miles, including many major fishing tributaries. The Sacramento River, The Delta, Mokelumne River, Feather River and the American River flow a short drive from Sacramento. They hold several different species including striped bass, salmon, largemouth and spotted bass, shad, catfish, and sturgeon. Anglers can target these species using several different techniques.

Aimee lives in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, and knows these rivers well. She fishes for a lot of species, both salt and freshwater. Her favorite species are Striped Bass and Salmon when fishing fresh water. While the rivers do offer decent bass fishing, Aimee enjoys the challenge, and great fish, of the larger fish.That is the reason that she targets Sacramento striped bass and salmon.

Striped bass fishing tackle

The same tackle can be used when targeting both species. Aimee only uses Phenix rods. Her personal favorite for casting is a 7’11” M1 Phenix rod with an extra fast action. She jigs with a 6’8” foot slow pitch Titan rod. She matches both with a Diawa Lexa reel and 65 lb braided line. When trolling, Aimee goes with a Phenix X-14 that is 7’11” with an extra fast action.

Striper fishing in California

Heavy tackle is required to catch big fish in the current when targeting Sacramento striped bass and salmon. River and fishing conditions change daily. The best bet is to look online to get current river conditions and fishing reports. Aimee’s favorite sites for this are Navionics and Willy Weather.

Sacramento Striped Bass

Striped bass migrate up into these rivers in the spring to spawn. The best time to target them is from March to May in spring and October to December in the fall. As with most river fishing, water levels and flow are very important. Years that have more rain will see an extended season. Conversely, drought conditions will condense the fishing season.

Sacramento striper

When fishing for striped bass, Aimee uses a couple different techniques. She drifts live bait such as blue gill & minnows. This is a very effective technique and is one almost any angler can use to be successful. Mud sucker minnows are purchased at bait shops. Bluegill and shad are caught by anglers. Larger baits will get less bites but will catch bigger fish.

The rig that Aimee uses for drifting for striped bass is a simple drop back bottom rig. A 3 way swivel is tied on the line. Depending on current flow, sinkers from 2 ounces to 4 ounces. The sinker is placed on a 1 foot dropper line. A 4 foot leader of 15 lb to 30 lb test P-Line FlouroClear flourocarbon leader and a 2/0 to 7/0 hook completes the rig. As in most live bait applications, the hook size should be matched to the bait size, not the size of the fish being targeted.

Sacramento striped bass lures

Aimee really enjoys using artificial lures for these California river striped bass. She casts Delta Wood Bombers and ¾ ounce Ra-L-Traps. Silver/chartreuse, red and white, and chrome with a blue back are her top colors. Aimee also likes casting soft plastic swimbaits on a ¼ ounce or ½ ounce jig head.

California striped bass

Often times fish will be seen feeding on shad and other fish on the surface. This is a great time to cast a large topwater plug! Anglers can also blind cast both topwater and diving plugs neat fallen trees, rip-rap, and other structure and cover.

Trolling is another technique that produces striped bass on the California rivers. Her favorite plug is a Yo-zuri in the 5 1/4” size. Holographic Redhead is a great all-round color. Chartreuse woks well if the water is a bit murky. Trolling is relatively easy. Most anglers put the bow of the boat into the current and slowly work the area thoroughly. Fish are usually found in bunches, especially early in the year.

Artificial lure techniques on Sacramento rivers

Jigging is another very productive technique when targeting Sacramento River stripers. Aimee uses Blade-Runner Spoons for her jigging. Not surprisingly, her favorite color is “Aimee Blue”, named after her. You know she is a serious angler when she has baits named after her! 2 ounce to 3 ounce spoons are the preferred size.

The technique when drifting is fairly simple, whether jigging or using live bait. Anglers drop the lure or bait to the bottom and work it as the boat drifts along. Strong currents make it a bit more challenging. Channel edges and drop offs are prime spots, as are eddies when the river is running hard.

Anglers using live bait will need to adjust the depth of the bait as it drifts along. The idea is to keep the bait just above the bottom. Line will need to be let out and reeled in to adjust to the depth. Anglers jigging do the same thing, only the bait is jerked vertically as the boat moves along. The spoon should tick the bottom regularly.

Tennessee striped bass

Striped bass are a huge success story for the Tennessee fish management professionals. Many if not most of the Tennessee lakes were created in the mid-60s and early 70s by the TVA. These lakes had countless acres of flooded timber, offering perfect habitat for largemouth bass. However, over the years this timber rotted and deteriorated. Largemouth bass moved to other structure.

fishing for striped bass

This left an opportunity for an open water fish species and striped bass were the perfect fit. The Tennessee state record of 65 lbs. 6 oz. caught in Cordell Hull reservoir is an excellent example of a thriving striper population

Striped bass are a saltwater species that can tolerate absolute freshwater. They naturally migrate from saltwater into freshwater rivers to spawn. While striped bass and lakes can reproduce, and most lakes they don’t. This is due to the fact that dams inhibit the migration of fish up into the tributary creeks and rivers.

Forage for striped bass

In order to support this new fishery, forage species needed to be introduced as well. Several different species of shad were introduced and have thrived as well. Shad school up in large numbers over underwater structure. These are the same places where striped bass are found.

Anglers targeting striped bass used two primary methods. Live or cut Shad produces the majority of striped bass by Tennessee anglers. Drifting, slow trolling, and bottom fishing with live baits is extremely productive. The biggest hurdle is catching and keeping the baits alive. Cut Shad will produce as well, though it will also attract large catfish.

Anglers casting artificial lures can catch striped bass as well. This is particularly true when they are found feeding on the surface. This is great fun as any spoon, crank baits, jig, or any other lure cast into the fray will normally draw a strike. Anglers vertically jigging deeper channel edges and blind casting shorelines and rip-rap areas near dams will also produce fish. Where allowed, tell water fisheries just below the dams can produce some fantastic striped bass fishing and Tennessee!

The top Tennessee striped bass fishing lakes are Old Hickory Reservoir, Cordell Hull Reservoir, Caney Fork, Melton Hill Reservoir, and Watts bar Reservoir.

Southwest striped bass

The southwest part of the country has excellent striped bass fishing as well, particularly in north Texas and Oklahoma.

Oklahome striped bass

Texas Striped bass lakes and rivers

The major lakes in Texas with healthy populations of stripers include Amistad Reservoir, Lake Texoma, Toledo Bend, Belton Lake, Canyon Lake, Cedar Creek Reservoir, Lake E.V. Spence, Cooper Lake, Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Brownwood, Lake Buchanan, Lake Conroe, Lake Granbury, Lake Kemp, Lake Lewisville, Lake Livingston, Lake Lyndon B Johnson, Lake Palestine, Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Somerville, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Travis, Lake Whitney, Lavon Lake, Medina Lake, Pat Mayse Lake, Possom Kingdom Lake, Proctor Lake, Red Bluff Reservoir, Richland Chambers Reservoir, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, and Wright Patman Lake. The Brazos River yielded the Texas state record striped bass.

Oklahoma Striped Bass lakes and rivers

The Oklahoma lakes and rivers that offer good striped bass fishing include Lake Eufaula, Broken Bow Reservoir, Canton Lake, Lake Murray, Waurika Lake, Fort Cobb Reservoir, Fort Gibson Lake, Grand Lake of the Cherokees, Great Salt Plains Lake, Hugo Lake, Kaw Lake, Keystone Lake, Lake Altus-Lugert, Lake Carl Blackwell, Lake Hudson, Lake Texoma, Oologah Lake, Robert S Kerr Reservoir, Skiatook Reservoir, Sooner Lake, Tom Steed Reservoir, and Webber Falls Reservoir. Most tributaries offer good fishing as well.

California striped bass lakes and rivers

The Colorado River used to support a spawning run of striped bass. This was prior to dame being built. Some large fish are still taken there. Productive California lakes include Lake Havasu, Pyramid Lake, Bucks Lake, Lake Mendocino, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Millerton Lake, New Hogan Lake, San Luis Reservoir, The Delta, Canyon Lake, Castaic Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Cahuilla, Lake Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Lake Perris, Silverwood Lake and Skinner Reservoir.

Nevada Striped bass lakes

Lake Mead, Lake Lahontan, Washoe Lake, Lake Mohave, and Rye Patch Reservoir are the top Nevada striped bass Lakes.

In conclusion, this article on fishing for striped bass will help anglers be successful when targeting these terrific game fish!

Black Drum Fishing – A Complete Guide

Black Drum Fishing – A Complete Guide

This article will cover black drum fishing. These cousins to red drum, or redfish, are a popular inshore saltwater species.

black drum fishing

Black drum, Pogonias cromis, are found along the coastal water of the United States from Texas to the Mid Atlantic. They grow large, with the world record being 113 pounds. Black drum feed primarily on crustaceans. Smaller drum are excellent to eat, while larger specimens tend to be wormy.

Black drum range and habits

Black drum are found from New England along the coast to Texas and into Mexico. However, they are most commonly caught from the mid Atlantic states around to Texas. Juvenile and smaller black drum will inhabit brackish estuary systems while larger mature black drum are mostly found in the saltier, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Large bays will hold schools of big black drum as well.

fishing for black drum

One look at the mouth of a black drum will let an angler know how it feeds. They feed almost exclusively on crustaceans, which live on or near the bottom. Black drum have an “inferior” mouth, which means it is behind the nose. Drum also have crushers in their throat which allows them to feed on anything with a shell.

Black drum feed at night

black drum

Black drum are nocturnal and most definitely feed at night. Lighted bridges, especially in passes and inlets on the outgoing tide are prime spots. Anglers fishing from piers catch them as well. Shallow bars will hold fish, but navigating in the dark can be tricky and is best left to experienced anglers.

Black drum vs sheepshead

Black drum and sheepshead do look quite a bit like sheepshead. The two also feed on similar prey and inhabit the same waters. However, when held side by side, it is fairly easy to distinguish the two. In this picture, the black drum is on the left and the sheepshead is on the right.

black drum

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Black drum are cousins to the red drum, or redfish. They are also similar in looks and habits to sheepshead. In fact, smaller black drum can be mistaken for sheepshead. Black drum are wider and have barbels under the chin. Both feed on crustaceans near structure. Black drum can be found in very shallow water as well as in quite deep holes. They are usually located in schools and often relate to structure of some type. Bridges, docks, oyster bars, jetties, rocks, and hard bottom areas will hold fish.

black drum fishing

Black drum are great to eat

Black drum are very good to eat. Most fish that feed on crustaceans are desirable, and black drum are no exception. However, this really only applies to smaller fish. Most anglers find black drum between 14” and 24” to be the best to keep. Larger drum tend to be wormy and the breeder fish are best released to ensure good populations of fish.

eating black drum

Best baits for black drum fishing

As mentioned above, black drum feed primarily on crustaceans. Crabs of all types are top black drum fishing baits. Blue crabs are cut in halves or quarters while smaller crabs are fished whole. Shrimp are also a preferred forage of black drum, as they are for most saltwater species. Both crabs and shrimp work well both live and dead as the scent is a major component in attracting fish.

saltwater fishing with shrimp

While black drum can be taken by anglers using artificial lures, the vast majority of fish are taken on natural or live baits. The few black drum that are fooled by lures will hit a soft plastic bait bounced slowly along the bottom. Spoons will catch a few fish as well.

Best black drum fishing tackle

A 7′ medium action rod with a 3000-4000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb braided line is an excellent all round combination. It will allow anglers to cast light baits to drum in shallow water while providing enough backbone to handle a decent fish.

fishing for black drum

Click links to shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional outfits

Anglers fishing for large black drum around structure such as bridges, docks, jetties, and in rock holes will need to beef up the tackle. In these application, conventional tackle is usually the best choice. No casting is required and anglers can muscle up on a large fish.

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Best black drum fishing rigs

fishing for black drum

Rigging for black drum is fairly uncomplicated. In shallow water, a simple rig consisting of a 24” to 30” piece of 25 lb to 40 lb flourocarbon leader and a 2/0 to 5/0 circle hook is all that is required. A small split shot or even a small sliding egg sinker can be added is the current is strong. It is best for the bait to sit in one spot.

fishing rigs

In deeper water, the traditional Carolina rig is a good all around choice. It presents the bait on the bottom while allowing for easy weight changes as conditions change. This rig also works well for anglers surf fishing for black drum as well.

Black drum fishing techniques

If there is one single tip that will help anglers fishing for black drum, it is to keep the bait still and on the bottom. This applies to anglers fishing in both shallow water and in deep water. Black drum roam about quite a bit in search of food. The scent and action of the bait will attract black drum.

fishing for drum

It is best to fishing for black drum during periods of good current flow. This will help the scent disperse through the water and attract black drum and other species to the bait. Many anglers prefer a high, outgoing tide as it will stage fish on the edges.

Black drum can be difficult to hook, even large fish. They tend to “mouth” the bait and the take can be subtle. The best technique is to wait out the “taps” until a steady pull or weight is felt. Anglers should then reel fast and come tight. Circle hooks have become quite popular. They work well and drastically reduce fish mortality as most are hooked in the mouth.

Fishing docks and bridges for black drum

drum fishing

Bridges and docks are top spots for anglers to find black drum, They provide structure, shade, forage, and are often located in areas of high current flow. These elements combine to make docks and bridges prime black drum fishing spots. Many also offer anglers without a boat access to some good fishing.

In most cases, the best approach when fishing for black drum around docks and bridges is to fish the up-tide side of the structure. This is true for anglers in boats as well as fishing from the dock or bridge. The bait can then drift back naturally to the structure. Night fishing can be extremely productive. Anglers fishing for big drum, especially in strong currents, will need fairly stout tackle to handle a big fish.

Night fishing for black drum

night fishing for drum

Black drum are definitely nocturnal feeders. They use their sense of smell more that sight, so feeding in the dark is not an issue. This is mostly done near lighted bridges, docks, inlets and off the beach. Surf fishing at night for black drum can be very productive.

Passes and inlets are prime black drum fishing spots

Passes and inlets are natural fishing spots for black drum and many other species. They are passages that connect the open Gulf and ocean with the inshore bays. Fish will move through and stop to feed. Current flow, structure, and forage combine to make passes and inlets terrific fishing spots.

black drum fishing


Anglers fishing passes and inlets really need to pay attention to the tides. Fishing can be very difficult, and even dangerous, when the current is running hard. It will take a lot of weight to hit and hold the bottom. Therefore, the periods just before and after the tide change are usually the best times to fish these areas, as are days with weaker tides.

Black drum fishing tidal creeks and oyster bars

Black drum love oyster bars and tidal creeks. The reason is simple; food, and a lot of it! Oysters are home to a variety of crustaceans that black drum feed on. Drum will cruise the bars in search of food. Many anglers prefer the lower tide stages as that tends to concentrate fish on the edges. On a flood tide, drum will move up on top of the bars and scatter out. While they feed at this time, they are more difficult to locate.

fishing a shrimp on a jig head

For the most part, the best rig is a bait fishing on the bottom with little or no weight. This will present the bait naturally while reducing snags. Another effective approach is to fish a bait on a jig head. A jig head combines the hook and weight in a tidy unit that is easy to cast. This works especially well with a live shrimp.

Jacksonville black drum

Fish can be spooky in this shallow water. Successful anglers take care to be as quiet as possible and keep their offering as natural looking as possible. Anglers will often see the fish “waking” and “tailing” in the shallow water, similar to redfish. Most of these fish will be in the 5-20 pound range, so spinning tackle is usually the best choice. The mouths of little feeder creeks and cuts are terrific spots on the falling tide.

River mouths offer excellent black drum fishing

River mouths are top spots to fishing black drum. This is true for the smallest creeks up to larger rivers in huge estuary systems. Chesapeake Bay is a great example of this, many large rivers empty into the bay and black drum will school up in deeper holes. The combination of current flow and structure makes these areas productive spots.

Surf fishing for black drum

surf fishing tips

Black drum are a highly sought after species for anglers surf fishing. They are perhaps the largest fish a surf fishing angler will encounter, other than sharks. Heavy surf fishing tackle is used to heavy large baits out over the breaking waves. Black drum will also be found right in the “wash” close to shore, especially after a storm moves through stirring up the bottom.

black drum

Crabs are the top bait for anglers surf fishing for black drum. A fish finder rig works well with enough weight to hold bottom. Two hours before and after high tide is a great time to fish. Shrimp can be used,m especially for smaller fish. Black drum will also take cut bait meant for other species.

In conclusion, this article on black drum fishing will help anglers catch more of these tasty and hard fighting bottom species.





26 Productive Trout Fishing Tips

26 Productive Trout Fishing Tips

This post will list 26 productive trout fishing tips. Trout fishing is extremely popular throughout North America and the world. The many trout species are all beautiful fish that fight hard and often leap out of the water. There are multiple species of trout that anglers can catch. They are found from the tiniest streams to the largest lakes. Many different techniques can be used to successfully fool wily trout.

26 useful trout fishing tips

There are several species of trout that freshwater anglers can pursue. Rainbow trout and brown trout are the most widely distributed species, with brook trout being a close third. Most trout caught these days are stocked, however native trout are available in many locations. Cutthrout trout, lake trout, tiger trout, bull trout, and Dolly Varden trout are other, less plentiful trout species.

While there are multiple species of trout found in streams and lakes, they behave in a similar manner in most instances. Therefore, they will all be covered together when discussing trout fishing tips, unless otherwise mentioned.

trout fishing tips

Special thanks to Bry Sims for the great pictures and trout fishing tips! Bry is an expert trout angler and trout and salmon guide in Alaska. You can book a trip with her HERE. Anglers can follow Bry on Instagram as well.

General trout fishing tips

There are some trout fishing tips that apply to all species in most waters and many different techniques. These will help anglers fishing for trout anywhere achieve more success.

1)  Match the hatch

trout fishinh tips

No matter where an angler is trout fishing, it is best to try and imitate the forage that trout are feeding on. This really applies to all types of fishing, not just trout. A lure, fly, or bait that closely mimics the available prey will often be the most productive offering.

2)  Attractor flies and lures produce as well.

While it seems to contradict the previous tip, there are times when going with something larger and more conspicuous will fool a trout into taking the offering. Large attractor flies are famous for this, but the same applies to lures as well. If subtle presentations do not produce, try something else!

fly fishing

3)  Stocked trout feed differently than native trout

This is a VERY important tip, one that many trout anglers overlook. It is good to know if the water being fished has native trout, stocked trout, or both. Stocked trout are used to feeding on man made fish food. Therefore, commercially available products are quite effective. Also, stocked trout often seek their food on the surface. This is not to say that traditional trout fishing lures and flies will not produce, quite the contrary. This is especially true the longer a trout has been acclimated it’s new home.

trout fishing blue ridge

4)  Understanding seasonal changes when trout fishing

One of the wonderful things about trout is that they are active all times of year and can be caught year round.  Each season requires its own tricks and tactics. River temperature is a major factor in determining the activity level of trout. Very warm and very cold water can both make trout more lethargic and less likely to feed. Aquatic insects make up a large part of what trout feed on in river systems and the temperature of the river can make a huge difference in the number and type of insects hatching.  

fishing for brown trout

In summer months, trout may be feeding on both terrestrial and aquatic insects. Some Bry’s favorite fly combinations for river fishing in the summer are grasshopper or other terrestrial dry fly patterns with one or two wet fly droppers. In summer you also have a proliferation of hatching insects like salmon flies, green drakes, caddis flies, mayflies etc that may be used as your dry fly pattern or indicator fly. 

fly fishing for trout

Fishing dry fly/nymph combinations is extremely effective in the spring, summer, and fall. Spring and fall can also have the added bonus of being spawning seasons for many species of trout.  Egg patterns are trout kryptonite when salmon and trout are spawning and fall is Bry’s personal favorite time of year. Fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden in northern rivers with spawning salmon in the late summer and fall can be amazing! Fall is also a time when many river systems water levels and temperatures stabilize.  Spring runoffs often create less than ideal clarity and often more water in general which disperses the trout.

trout fishing

 Summer and fall tend to bring more crowds to trout fishing river destinations and fisherman in search of more solitude should not overlook the advantages of fishing for trout in the winter. Many trout freestone streams and rivers that hold trout will slow down in the winter months, but that is not to say that the trout are not still feeding. Concentrating on fishing with nymphs beneath strike indicators on warmer winter days can make for wonderful fishing.  Tailwater sections of rivers that have stable water temperatures beneath dams can keep winter water temperatures consistent and fish may feed on hatching insects year round in these areas.  

5)  Ice fishing for trout

ice fishing for rainbow trout

Trout are comfortable and feed well in cold water. This is particularly true for brook trout and lake trout. Therefore, ice fishing for trout can be very productive in both streams and lakes. Jigs, spoons, and live and cut baits will all be productive. Unlike many other species, trout remain active under the ice and often cruise around quite a bit and are found high in the water column.

Capt Jim has written several comprehensive articles on ice fishing for rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout and brook trout. Click the links to read them!

6)  Handle trout carefully!

brown trout fishing

Trout can be delicate and anglers should use as much care as possible when handling them for release. Smaller trout can be popped off using hemostats. Larger fished can be lifted briefly for a quick pic, but anglers should make sure to support the weight of the fish and revive it if necessary.

7)  Local knowledge is invaluable

While there are quite a few aspects of trout fishing that can apply anywhere, there is no substitute for local knowledge. This is especially true for fly anglers looking to match the local hatches and forage. Anglers can visit local shops and get some great advice while making a few purchases to support these small businesses.

trout fishing tips

8)  Hiring a guide is a great investment

A guided fishing trip can be expensive, depending on the financial situation of the angler. However, in most cases this is money well spent. Anglers may learn more in a few hours with a good guide than they might fishing alone in a year. It can really steepen the learning curve!

streamer fishing

9)  Tailwaters are terrific trout fishing spots

Tailwaters are the rivers below dams. These are fantastic spots for trout and many other species. The water flow and temperature can be controlled, often being tailored to ideal trout fishing conditions. Some of the top trout fishing spots in the world are tailwater fisheries. Anglers need to be careful and heed safety warnings as waters can rise very quickly.

Trout fishing in streams and small rivers

brook trout fishing lures

Many anglers associate trout fishing with streams, and for good reason. Smaller streams and rivers are perfect habitat for most trout species. They also are accessible to anglers without a boat.

10)  Light lines catch more stream trout

Trout in creeks, streams, and small rivers are usually quite spooky. The water is often clear as well. Lighter line and leaders will catch more fish. Many anglers are amazed at how many more strikes they get when going from 4 lb line to 2 lb line. The same applies to leaders for fly anglers.

brook trout fishing

11)  Fly anglers should use longer leaders and floating lines

In a similar vein to the previous tip, trout in shallow, clear water can be fussy. While fly anglers do not need to make long casts, a longer leader, up to 12 feet long, will definitely produce more strikes. This is especially true when fishing for brook trout in the tiny mountain creeks. While there are many line options, a floating line will be fine for this application.

12)  Spinners are the best river fishing lures

brown trout fishing lures

There are several types of artificial lures that will be productive when trout fishing in smaller streams. These include spinners, spoons, jigs, and plugs. However, in most cases, a small spinner is the best choice. Small spinners are light and land softly. They also snag the bottom less. Finally, they catch fish! Several manufacturers offer spinners with single, barbless hooks to comply with regulations and aid in successful releases. A 1/16 ounce spinner with a gold blade and brightly colored body is an excellent all-round choice.

Click to read more about fishing with spinners

13)  Fly choice for trout fishing in smaller streams

Trout in small streams tend to be very aggressive feeders as they often receive less pressure than fish in larger rivers do. Small streams tend to give trout very good access to terrestrial insects living along the river bank. Grasshoppers, ants, crickets, beetles, spiders, and a host of other tiny insects will often fall into streams and make excellent patterns for trout.  Small streams also have plenty of aquatic insects that live in the stream.  Mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies and midges are just a few examples of insects that spend their larval stages growing and feeding in streams before hatching and mating at the end of their life cycle.  

trout fishing equipment

Using combinations of terrestrial and aquatic insect patterns in small streams can be deadly. Deeper pools in small streams can also be ideal locations for using streamer patterns as large fish in streams can become major fish eaters, often eating many of their cousins and even there own kind.  Other stream resident minnows like sculpins, dace, and trout fry can be imitated with a variety of streamer patterns and can be extremely effective in streams.  

trout fishing tips

Fish in streams tend to be wary and fly choice can be important when considering how to not spook your quarry. Bry often uses a highly visible dry fly when trying to make a delicate cast and presentation to finicky stream trout. It is hard to beat a good old fashioned grasshopper or ant pattern when stream fishing for trout. Favorite patterns for streams include Dave’s Hopper,  prince nymph, hare’s ear nymph, and brown sculpin.

14)  Trout holding spots

Locating trout in big and small rivers is based on several important factors. However, the most important component is a spot where can the fish access the most food while expending the least amount of energy. Feeding trout in both large and small rivers will often hold behind gravel bars, rocks, undercut banks or island seams where faster water is bringing food into breaks in the current. This allows fish to expend very little energy fighting the current while still having access to food that is drifting downstream.  

fly fishing for trout

Fish in small rivers will often hold in deep slow pools and runs below rapids. The bigger trout can usually be found in the very best pieces of structure that provide them with the first opportunity at food in a pool. Savvy anglers look to the head of the pool or riffle for the biggest trout. One exception to this rule is in shallow rivers where big trout need bigger, deeper pools and structure areas to feel safe from predators.

Big river trout that have started consuming large quantities of other fish will often reside in deep pools, moving into the shallows of slow water sections to hunt for minnows along the river banks. Winter trout will often move into slow moving water in the winter to conserve energy when less food is available.  

15)  Keep a low profile when fishing for trout

brown trout fishing lures

Anglers fishing the smaller streams and creeks should always be aware of how their presence will affect trout. They should walk quietly and avoid casting any shadows over the pool that is to be fished.

16)  Live bait can be effective in streams and small rivers

While most anglers opt to use either lures or flies when trout fishing in these smaller bodies, live bait, where legal, can certainly be used. Generally, bait works better in slightly larger streams and smaller rivers. Nightcrawlers and minnows are the top baits.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

Trout fishing tips for larger rivers

Larger rivers provide anglers with some excellent trout fishing. However, they pose a few challenges as well. These trout fishing tips will help anglers be successful in larger waters.

17)  Safety first!

Large rivers will hold some trophy trout. However, they can unfortunately be deadly. Strong currents and deep water result in a dangerous situation. This is especially true for anglers wading. A PFD should be worn when wading big water. Anglers should also avoid fishing alone in these big rivers. Anglers in boats should exercise more caution as well.

trout fishing

18)  Beef up the tackle a bit

Anglers fishing these larger rivers can go heavier on the tackle than those fishing in smaller streams. The water is usually faster and not quite as clear. Anglers will need the heavier tackle as well when a big fish is hooked in the fast water. A 7′ medium light spinning rod with 8-10 lb line is a good combo. Fly anglers will do fine with a 7wt to 8wt outfit.

19)  larger lures produce in big rivers

Anglers will find that larger lures work better in the big rivers. These heavier lures can be cast farther, covering more water. Also, larger trout generally prefer larger meals. Larger spoons cast a mile and are very productive.

streamer fishing

20)  Streamers fool big trout for fly anglers

Streamers are very effective on trout in larger rivers. They can be tied to mimic bait fish, crustaceans, and insects. The Wooly Bugger is a classic streamer that will catch trout anywhere on the planet. Streamers are fished across and down current.

Anglers can read more about streamer fishing for trout in this article!

21)  Bait is productive in larger rivers

trout tips

Natural bait becomes a better option in larger rivers. Live baits such as nightcrawlers, minnows, and crustaceans are effective. Eggs are deadly, particularly in rivers that experience salmon runs. Rainbow trout grow fat and happy gorging on salmon eggs.

22)  Trolling and drifting produces trout in large rivers

Trolling is very productive for trout in large rivers. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. The same applies to drifting, which in a fast current is a similar thing.

Trout fishing tips in lakes

lake trout fishing tackle


Anglers certainly catch a lot of trout in lakes as well. In most cases, these are the largest specimens. Trout can grow large on the abundant forage. The primary challenge when fishing for trout in lakes, unlike streams, is that there is a lot more water for them to be found in.

23) Trolling is the top fishing technique for trout in lakes

Most trout caught by anglers fishing in lakes are done so by trolling. The reason is simple; it is a very efficient technique. Trolling allows anglers to present multiple baits and different depths in search of fish. This can be as uncomplicated as pulling a spoon behind a small Jon boat or trolling in the Great Lakes with downriggers. Spoons and plugs are the top lures used.

salmon fishing in Great Lakes

24)  Trout in lakes are constantly cruising

Unlike trout in rivers, which tend to hold in certain spots due to current, fish in lakes tend to constantly cruise in search of forage. Often times, they do so high in the water column. Many freshwater fish species relate to structure. For the most part, trout do not. However, they will hang near schools of bait fish.

25)  Fly fishing can produce trout in lakes

Fly fishing can be an extremely effective method for taking trout in lakes. Like trout in rivers, aquatic insects are often a very important source of food for trout living in lakes. When fishing in a lake you may see trout on the surface, actively feeding on emerging or mating insects. On warm summer evenings the dry and dropper approach used on rivers can be extremely effective on lakes.

fly fishing in lakes

It is important to note that the majority of trout feeding that takes place in lakes is beneath the surface and identifying the primary food source in any given lake is critical. Fresh water shrimp, snails and a host of other aquatic insects and fish can be imitated effectively with hundreds of fly patterns tailored for catching trout in lakes. Fishing with stationary nymphs below a strike indicator is a sure way to fool even the wariest trout in a lake. A more aggressive and highly effective approach is to slowly strip streamers and large nymph patterns at the depth that trout are feeding.  

Fly fishing a lake has the advantage of allowing a fisherman to present very small insect fly imitations that are often the primary source of food for resident trout. Starting with big attractive flies and then gradually reducing the size of the offering until a productive pattern emerges is an excellent strategy. This is particularly true on unfamiliar lakes.

26)  Live bait works well in smaller lakes and ponds

Many ponds and smaller lakes have been stocked with trout, particularly rainbow trout. As mentioned earlier, stocked trout are raised on man made food and respond very well to commercially available baits as well as eggs and live bait. Worms and nightcrawlers are quite productive.

In conclusion, this article on 26 productive trout fishing tips will help anglers catch more of these terrific freshwater game fish!