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.

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 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.

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 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!

7 Essential Striped Bass Fishing Lures

7 Essential Striped Bass Fishing Lures

This post will list the 7 essential striped bass fishing lures. Striped bass are a very popular game fish. While anglers certainly catch plenty of fish using live and cut bait, many anglers prefer to use artificial lures.

striped bass fishing lures

The 7 essential striped bass fishing lures are:

  • Spro bucktail jig
  • Kastmaster spoon
  • Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait
  • Atom Popper
  • Gulp
  • Diamond jig
  • Bunker spoon

Striped bass are a bit unusual in that they thrive in both freshwater and saltwater. In the oceans and bays, striped bass migrate up rivers to spawn. In many cases, they go way upriver to where it is totally fresh water. Consequently, striped bass have been stocked in large reservoirs with great success!

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 feed mainly on bait fish, though they certainly happily devour crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp as well. Most striped bass fishing lures imitate bait fish. The main lure types are plugs, spoons, jigs, metals, and soft plastic baits. All of them will produce fish when properly presented.

striped bass fishing tips

One of the most confusing aspects of using artificial lures in the selection. In this article, Capt Jim will list his favorite lures in each category. These are time proven striped bass fishing lures that will catch fish anywhere. This will help simplify the process of stocking the tackle box while having a striped bass fishing lure for every situation than an angler will face.

Striped bass tackle

The tackle required for striped bass fishing varies greatly depending on the size of the fish, water depth, current, and bait size. Both spinning tackle and conventional tackle are used successfully.

Anglers can click this link to read a comprehensive article by Capt Jim on striped bass fishing tackle

Spro bucktail jig

bucktail jig

Click to shop Amazon for Spro jigs

Jigs are the oldest artificial lure used by humans to catch fish. A jig is a hook with aq piece of metal, usually lead, molded near the head. This weight provides for casting distance, depth control, and it gives the lure it’s erratic action. Jigs can be bare with a soft plastic tail or can have some synthetic or natural hair tied on.

The Spro bucktail jig is number one on the list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. In fact, it is Capt. Jim’s favorite. The main reason for this is the versatility of this lure. Bucktail jigs can be fished effectively throughout the entire water column, from the surface all the way to the bottom. It can be cast, trolled, or vertically jig.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

White bucktail jigs have been very effective striped bass fishing lures for decades. They are simple yet very productive. White is the most popular color as it matches most saltwater forage species. However, often times the jig is tied with a contrasting darker color such as olive or purple. Many bait fish species are silvery or white on the bottom and dark along the top.

The Spro bucktail jig is available in a wide variety of sizes in several colors. As mentioned, is hard to go wrong with all white. Anglers should match the weight of the jig to the depth of the water, current, and size of the locally available forage. This bait is made from quality components which will hold up under harsh saltwater fishing conditions.

Kastmaster spoon

kastmaster

 

Click to shop Amazon for Kastmaster spoons

Spoons are another simple yet extremely effective striped bass fishing lure. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. The size and shape of the metal will determine the action in the water. Slender spoons have a tight wiggle and are generally work quickly. Wider spoons are worked more slowly and have a more distinct wobble.

The Kastmaster spoon is second on Capt. Jim’s list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. Once again, a key to its effectiveness is the versatility of this bait. The cast master spoon is a bit more slender and has an excellent action in the water when trolled, cast, or fished vertically over structure. It is a dense bait that cast a long way, making it a favorite of surf anglers and those fishing from other shore locations.

inshore saltwater fishing

The spoon puts out a lot of flash and vibration as it is worked through the water. As with jigs, this type of spoon can be worked throughout the entire water column. It is extremely effective when striped bass are found feeding on the surface. Long casts are often required in this situation. It is also very effective when trolled and is often heavy enough to be trolled without any additional weight. When striped bass are holding over deep structure, the Kastmaster spoon is an excellent choice.

The Kastmaster spoon is available in several sizes and many different color patterns. The all silver with a white bucktail dressing on the hook is an extremely popular and effective combination. The spoon is available with a single hook which facilitates an easier release. The silver with a neon blue finish is also an excellent color choice.

Rapaa X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

Rapala x-rap

Click to shop Amazon for X-Raps

Hard bodied plugs are extremely effective lures for striped bass and just about every other game fish species. These lures come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. However, they all basically fish the same. The size and shape of the body along with the size and shape of the lip will determine the action and the depth that which the lore will dive.

Plugs put out a lot a flash and vibration. Bass fishing circles, they are known as jerk baits. These lures can be cast out and retrieved back in using an erratic stop and go action. Many strikes occur on the pause, as the bait sits there motionless. Wounded baitfish wobble from side to side and put out flash and vibration, which these lures imitate very realistically.

Susquehanna River striped bass

The Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait is Capt. Jim’s favorite jerk bait. It is a must have lure for every serious striped bass angler in both freshwater and saltwater. They come in a wide variety of color patterns and several sizes. The number 10 and number 12 sizes are excellent choices for most situations. White and olive are excellent all round color combinations.

These lures are extremely effective when trolled as well. The Rapala X Rap comes in a deep diving version which has a larger lip. This makes it very easy to present a bait in the 15 foot to 20 foot deep area of the water column. The standard version with the shallow diving lip is excellent when fish are feeding on or near the surface or when casting to shoreline structure.

Atom Popper

atom popper

Click to shop Amazon for Atom Poppers

Some plugs are fished entirely on the surface. These are known as top water plugs. They come in different variations with a concave face which is known as a Popper, conical plugs, and those with propellers. Poppers work very well and are easy to use for even novice anglers. It is very exciting to see a big striped bass take a top water plug.

The Atom Popper is number four on Capt. Jim’s list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. It is an established lure that has been around a long time. It is a favorite of surf anglers as well as those fishing from jetties and other shoreline spots. It is fairly heavy and cast a long way.

striped bass fishing spots

Top water lures are an excellent choice whenever striped bass and other species are seen feeding on the surface. The lure is worked fairly aggressively with hard jerks of the rod tip which results in a splash and commotion emitting from the lure. It is then allowed to set still for a moment. This is often when the strike occurs. Striped bass will rise up a surprising distance in order to attack a top water plug, especially when the water is clear.

Gulp baits

Soft plastic baits have revolutionized both freshwater and saltwater fishing since they were first introduced in the mid-1970s. There are several reasons for their effectiveness. Soft plastic lures come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors which allow anglers to easily and quickly match the locally available forage. They mimic both bait fish and crustaceans.

striped bass fishing tackle

Most anglers fishing for striped bass and using soft plastics opt for swim baits or shad style tales. This is a bait that resembles a bait fish and has a paddle tail on the rear. When worked through the water, it puts out a very realistic action and vibration. As with all artificial lures, the best approach is to try and match the size and color of the soft plastic bait to the locally available forage.

Capt. Jim’s favorite soft plastic lure by far is the gulp line of products. These have a revolutionary design that has an incredible sent factor included. There are several different gulp baits which work very well for striped bass and every other freshwater and saltwater species. These soft plastic baits are most often fished on a bear jig head, which provides both casting weight and a hook in one tidy unit.

Gulp Jerk Shad

gulp jerk shad

Click to shop Amazon for Gulp Jerk Shad lures

The Gulp Jerk Shad is a long slender bait that has a terrific action and the water. Like all of these baits, it is fished on a jig head, the size of which is determined by the depth of the water and current speed. White is an excellent all round color. The best retrieve is one where the lure is allowed to sink and then jerked back to the boat and in erratic manner.

Gulp Paddle Shad

paddleshad

Click to shop Amazon for Gulp Paddle Shad baits

The newest member of the Gulp line up is the paddle Shad. What makes this a bit different is the fact that it is offered in several sizes between 3 inches and 6 inches long. It is available and several very lifelike color combinations to match shad, herring, menhaden, and just about anything else a striped bass will feed on. Often times a slow steady retrieve works best to let the action of the tail attract the fish. It can be trolled as well.

Gulp Swimming Mullet

swimming mullet

Click to shop Amazon for Gulp Swimming Mullet baits

The Gulp Swimming Mullet has a curly tail or twister tail. This puts out a terrific, though more subtle action in the water. Is an excellent choice and just about any watercolor or fishing condition. The twister tale is very effective when jig off the bottom as in helicopters back down.

Gulp eel

gulp eel

Click to shop Amazon for Gulp Eel baits

Eels are a favorite live bait in forage of striped bass. The Gulp Eel is a terrific bait for striped bass and were present cobia. Both of these species are known to have an affinity for eels. It is most effective when fished slowly on the bottom which is where eels live. This is more of a “big fish” bait for anglers seeking a trophy striped bass.

Diamond jig

diamond jig

Click to shop Amazon for Diamond jigs

The Diamond Jig is a relatively unassuming little lure, but don’t let that fool you. It is an extremely effective striped bass fishing lure that is been catching fish for a long time. It is a long and slender shiny piece of metal, usually led, with a hook in the rear. It can be cast out, trolled, or used in a vertical presentation.

The Diamond jig really shines when fish are a bit fussy and more reluctant to bite. It is number six on Capt. Jim’s list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. Anglers are often faced with clear water this bait has a much more subtle action. In ways, it really is a bit of a finesse presentation. When worked through the water, it does not put out a lot of flash or action. However, it is just enough to resemble a wounded bait fish.

This lure works best when striped bass are feeding on small, slender forage such as glass minnows, anchovies, and sand eels. While it can be cast out, it’s design works better for trolling and vertically jigging, especially while drifting over structure. Heavier models in the 2 ounce to 3 ounce range can certainly be cast out effectively by anglers using spinning tackle. Silver is the predominant finish.

Bunker spoon

bunker spoon

Click to shop Amazon for Bunker Spoons

The Bunker spoon is a larger and wider spoon with a very distinctive action. It is a bit of a specialty bait which was really designed for striped bass fishing in the Northeast off of the New England coast. Striped bass there feed heavily on menhaden. These are a wide bait fish species in the Bunker spoon does an excellent job of mimicking this forage.

In conclusion, this article on the 7 essential striped bass fishing lures will help anglers catch more fish!

 

What is the Best Striped Bass Fishing Lure?

The Best Striped Bass Fishing Lure is a White Bucktail Jig

Striped bass are a very popular game fish. They thrive in both fresh and salt water. Many striped bass are caught by anglers using live bait. However, many anglers pursue them using artificial lures. There are many effective striped bass fishing lures, but there is one bait that exceeds all others.

best striped bass lure

The best striped bass fishing lure is a white bucktail jig. There are several reasons for their success and productivity. Bucktail jigs are very versatile. They can be cast, trolled, and vertically presented. Bucktail jigs can effectively mimic bait fish and crustaceans. They are available in many sizes to cover every angling situation.

There is evidence to support the claim that a jig was the first fishing lure used by humans. A jig is basically a hook with weight, usually lead, molded in near the eye. This weight gives the lute it’s action and name. The hook is then dressed with some type of hair, synthetic or natural. Soft plastic tails are also used and are quite effective.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

White is a natural color for a fishing lure. Most bait fish are silvery or white in color. At the very least, almost all of them have a white belly. Some darker colors can be included to add contrast and a darker back. Of course, bucktail jigs are available in a wide variety of color patterns.

Best striped bass fishing lure

As mentioned above, the reason that the best striped bass fishing lure is a bucktail jig is the versatility of the bait. These lures can be used throughout the entire water column. Anglers can cast a bucktail jig to breaking fish on the surface, work the mid-depths by trolling or casting, and fish the bottom either by vertically jigging or drifting.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

As in most fishing situations, anglers who match the size of the bucktail jig to the available forage will usually have more success. Fortunately white bucktail jigs are available and just about every size and weight imaginable. Again, white bucktail jigs with some darker green or other natural color tide in will effectively mimic a pogy, sardine, herring, or other common forage of 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.

The weight of the bucktail jig is also an important consideration. There are several factors which will determine the best weight of jig to be used. The primary concerns are water depth and current speed. A 1/2 ounce jig may be fine for casting or drifting and water that is fairly shallow with little current flow. Conversely, anglers fishing in deep water with a strong current can go up as high as 6 ounces or more.

striped bass fishing tips

White bucktail jigs are just as effective for striped bass when freshwater fishing as they are in saltwater. Stocking of striped bass into freshwater reservoirs has been a huge success for fishery management officials. Most of these lakes and rivers were also stocked with forage species such as blueback herring. White bucktail jigs effectively imitate these species.

Best bucktail jigs for striped bass

Anglers have quite a selection when it comes to choosing the best white buck tail jig. There are many manufacturers who offer a quality lure. Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a fishing charter captain in Sarasota Florida since 1991. He also grew up fishing in Chesapeake Bay.

Spro jigs

bucktail jig

Capt. Jim’s favorite bucktail jig is the Spro jig. It is available in many different sizes and is a quality jig that will hold up to the rigors of saltwater fishing. While white is primarily used, there are many other color choices and combinations of the Spro jig to choose from.

Click here to shop Amazon for Spro jigs

“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. ”

Sea Striker jigs

Sea Striker makes excellent bucktail jigs for striped bass. They are made from quality components and are quire durable. Sea Striker jigs come in a great variety of colors and sizes.

Click here to shop Amazon for Sea Striker jigs

VMC jigs

VMC jigs are a great choice for freshwater and saltwater anglers requiring a smaller jig.

Click to shop Amazon for VMC jigs

Adding a trailer to a bucktail jig

best striped bass fishing lure

As has been previously mentioned, one of the aspects of the bucktail jigs that makes it so effective is its versatility. One extremely effective technique is to add a soft plastic trailer on to the jig. Swim bait tales and yield tails are most commonly used in both can be extremely productive. These add both bulk and action to the bucktail jig. In fact, many anglers rarely fish this lure on its own.

Both live bait and cut bait can also be used in conjunction with a bucktail jig when fishing for striped bass. Live minnows and bait fish along with live eels can be hooked through the lips and fished effectively. Long, slender strips of cut bait that tapered to a point work extremely well on a bucktail jig, too.

Best striped bass rods and reels

There is no single rod and reel outfit that works best when fishing for striped bass with bucktail jigs. The size of the fish being pursued is the primary consideration. The size of the bucktail jig being used as a secondary factor, though it is tied to the size of the fish as well.

Oklahome striped bass

A medium action conventional or bait casting rod around 7 feet long with a matching real is an excellent all round combination when fishing with bucktail jigs for striped bass. This outfit will work very well for drift fishing, light trolling, and vertically jigging. Anglers can spool the real with 20 pound to 30 pound braided or monofilament fishing line.

Read a comprehensive article on striped bass tackle in this article

Spinning tackle certainly has its place when casting jigs for striped bass as well. This is particularly true when chasing schools of striped bass that are feeding on the surface. Anglers will often have to make a slightly longer cast while keeping the boat away from the feeding fish. Most anglers surf fishing you spinning tackle as well. The best all round spinning outfit for striped bass would be a 7 foot to 8 foot medium action rod with a 5000-6000 series reel.

Tailwater fishing for bass and catfish

Bucktail jig fishing techniques for striped bass.

There are several techniques that work very well when fishing a bucktail jigs for striped bass. These primarily are casting, drifting, and trolling. All three of these techniques will produce striped bass for anglers fishing in both freshwater and saltwater.

Casting bucktail jigs for striped bass

Bucktail jigs can be cast out and retrieved to catch striped bass in a variety of situations. Perhaps the most fun and exciting condition is when striped bass are feeding on the surface. The bucktail jig is cast to the edge of the school and worked back in an erratic manner. This will almost always elicit a strike from actively feeding fish.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

Bucktail jigs can also be cast out towards shoreline structure and cover. Flats that are in 5 to 10 feet of water and then drop off sharply are prime spots. Striped bass will often stage on the edge of this drop in wait for the current to bring food to them. Any type of cover such as submerged or fallen timber, rocks and seawalls, docks, and bridges can all be prime spots to cast a jig for striped bass.

Drift fishing with bucktail jigs for striped bass

Drifting is an extremely effective technique that is used more when saltwater fishing manner freshwater. The reason for this is the strength of the tide. Tides will often move the boat along at 45 knots. Anglers simply bounce a jig off the bottom or work it in the mid-depths in search of fish. The main benefit in this type of fishing is that anglers can cover a lot of water in a relatively short period of time. Inlets are prime spots to drift fish for striped bass.

Trolling bucktail jigs for striped bass

Trolling catches a lot of striped bass for anglers fishing in both freshwater and saltwater. Once again, it allows anglers to cover a lot of water in a fairly short amount of time. Trolling also offers the advantage of being able to present multiple lures at various depths in search of fish. This can be a huge advantage when fish are scattered out throughout a large area or in different depths.

In conclusion, this article on the best striped bass fishing lure will encourage anglers to add a white buck tail jig to their tackle boxes!

 

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will cover the best striped bass fishing tackle and lures. Striped bass are arguably the most popular inshore saltwater species in the northeast part of the United States. They grow very large, with the world record being a tad over 80 pounds. They are a terrific game fish that hits artificial lures and flies as well as live and cut bait. As an added bonus, most anglers consider striped bass very good eating.

best striped bass fishing tackle and lures

Striped bass are a unique species. They thrive in both absolute salt water and absolute freshwater. In the spring, striped bass migrate up into tributary rivers to spawn. For the most part, these include the Hudson River and larger tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. There is a healthy striped bass population on the West Coast in California as well. The Sacramento River sees a good striped bass spawning run.

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.

The transplanting of striped bass into freshwater lakes has been a monumental fish management success! With the addition of herring and shad as forage, striped bass have thrived throughout the country. This is particularly true in the southern half of the country in the TVA lakes as well as many reservoirs out west.

striped bass fishing tips

In most of these lakes, striped bass are not able to spawn. The reason for this is that dams often block their route up the river. However, there are a few free-flowing rivers that do see a striped bass spawning migration. In addition, many lakes offer anglers the chance to catch a hybrid striped bass. This is a striped bass and white bass mix. While smaller than striped bass, their habits are very similar and they put up an excellent fight on light tackle. The same lures, and smaller sizes will work well for them.

Similarities when striped bass fishing in freshwater and saltwater

For the most part, the tackle, lures, baits, and tactics used to catch striped bass are very similar in both freshwater and saltwater. The one exception would be surf fishing, which really does not exist in lakes. Obviously, the live bait fish that are used will be different as well. For the most part, the same artificial lures that produce and saltwater will produce in freshwater as well.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

The main consideration for anglers choosing striped bass fishing tackle really is the size of the fish being sought. This is true in both freshwater and saltwater. There are times when anglers will be chasing smaller schooling fish on the surface. This is great fun and will require medium light spinning tackle. Conversely, anglers trolling in deep water or free lining large live baits or chunks will certainly require heavier tackle. Anglers surf fishing have their own specialized rods and reels.

Striped bass fishing rods and reels

top freshwater fish species

As mentioned above, the tackle that an angler requires when striped bass fishing depends greatly on the environment that he or she is fishing as well as the size of the fish being pursued. Serious striped bass anglers will have a medium light spinning outfit, heavier spinning outfit, as well as light and medium conventional outfits. Surf fisherman, for the most part choose heavy spinning surf fishing outfits.

Light spinning outfit for striped bass

A medium light spinning outfit is a very versatile combination that every striped bass fishing angler should own. A 7 foot medium rod with a fast action works best. Fast action means that the rod is fairly stout at the butt section but limber at the tip. This allows for casting a fairly light lures while having the ability to handle a larger fish. In reality, many anglers already own and outfit similar to this which will work fine.

Oklahome striped bass

These are very versatile outfits that can cover a lot of fishing situations. Anglers can catch striped bass casting lures and bait from jetties, docks, piers, beaches, and boats. When fishing open water, anglers can land a large fish on fairly light spinning tackle.

“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.”

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

Heavy spinning outfit for striped bass

A heavy spinning outfit is used in several applications when fishing for striped bass. Anglers can use these to drift chunks of cut bait or large live baits back into the current. They can also be used for vertically jigging with heavy spoons and jigs over submerged structure. For the most part, these rigs are too heavy to effectively cast all but the largest artificial lures. However, there are times when schools of very large fish will be encountered and anglers will be glad to have this heavier tackle.

fishing inlets

Light conventional striped bass outfit

A light conventional, or bait casting, and outfit is a very versatile rig. Most experienced saltwater anglers and even many freshwater anglers already own such an outfit. A 6 foot to 6 1/2 foot rod with a medium action and a matching real is a great all round combination. Anglers can use these for trolling, live and cut bait fishing, bottom fishing, and vertically fishing lures.

striped bass fishing tackle

Heavy conventional outfits

A heavy conventional outfit is really only required by serious striped bass anglers doing heavy duty trolling or fishing with very large live baits. For the most part, they are mostly used and saltwater fishing. However, some trophy hunters and larger lakes we use them as well.

Surf fishing combo

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass use special rods that are quite long. They range in length from 8 to 14 feet. Longer, heavier rods are usually used to cast heavy sinkers and but bait a long way. Anglers casting lures use a shorter rod, with ten feet beoing a good length.

Fishing line

Anglers have two choices when it comes to fishing line, monofilament and braided line. Most anglers opt for braid. It is thinner, stronger, more sensitive, and has no stretch. It is a bit more expensive. Some anglers still prefer to use monofilament line, and it works fine. It really is just a personal choice.


Leaders for striped bass fishing

Leaders are usually used when fishing for striped bass in both freshwater and saltwater. Just about all anglers these days use fluorocarbon leader. 50 pound test is a good all-around size. However, anglers may need to go lighter in clear water and bump it up heavier when fishing for larger fish around structure.

Susquehanna River striped bass

Best striped bass fishing lures

Many anglers fish for striped bass using artificial lures. Most are made to imitate bait fish, which is the primary forage of striped bass. However, others do mimic crabs and crustaceans. The top striped bass fishing lures fall into four basic categories; top water plugs, diving plugs, jigs, and spoons. These four families of lures will cover most fishing situations.

Sacramento River striped bass

The size of the lure being used by anglers will vary greatly depending on several conditions. The primary factor when choosing a plug is to hopefully match the locally available forage. This includes shad, herring, pogies, sand eels, and other bait fish. Generally speaking, anglers fishing in freshwater will use slightly smaller size baits than those fishing in saltwater. But, this is not always the case.

There are endless color patterns to choose from. However, generally speaking, lighter colors such as white and silver are generally the best bet, especially when the water is clear. Chartreuse is a popular color that works well in a variety of conditions. Darker colors often produce better when the water is stained or a bit murky.

inshore saltwater fishing

Topwater plugs for striped bass fishing

Topwater lures float on the surface. They are designed to mimic a bait fish which is dying or wounded up on the surface of the water. Topwater plugs come in several variations including poppers, propeller baits, and surface swimmers. They are great fun to fish as anglers get to visually see the strike.

Cordell Pencil Popper

The pencil popper is a popular surface plug. It is long and slender and casts very well into the wind. This makes it a favorite of surf casters in search of striped bass. The lure has a concave face. When twitched sharply, it puts out a lot of commotion and splash, simulating a wounded bait fish. Pencil poppers are mostly used in saltwater.

Atom Popper

The Atom Popper is another top water popper style hard body plug. It is similar to a pencil popper, however has a wider profile. They are worked the same as other poppers. It is a good choice when cast around jetties and other structure. It can be used from the beach on days with less wind. These baits are effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow

The Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow is a topwater bait. Unlike poppers, these lures have very little built in action. The angler must impart the action using the rod tip. This is what is termed a “walk the dog” type lure. The angler keeps the rod tip low and rhythmically reels while twitch and the rod tip. This makes the bait dance from side to side. It is effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is another effective top water plug for catching striped bass. It has a conical nose with a propeller on the rear. When twitched sharply, it puts out a lot of commotion while sitting relatively still. For the most part, this lure is used by anglers fishing in freshwater lakes. It is extremely effective when shad are working near the surface.

Gibb’s Surface Swimmer

The Gibbs Surface Swimmer is a unique top water plug. It has a bill which causes the lure to swim erratically from side to side on the surface. It works best using a slow steady retrieve. Striped bass will rise up from the depths to take this lure. It is mainly used in salt water, but will catch them trophies in lakes as well.

Subsurface plugs

There are also many effective plugs that dive down below the surface. Freshwater anglers term these as “jerk baits” in many instances. In most cases, the lure floats on the surface and that dives down to a determined depth when retrieved. The size and shape of the lip on the plug for the most part determines the depth that which it will run. These are extremely effective lures for both casting and trolling in fresh and saltwater.

Striper fishing in California

Saltwater Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

The Rapala X-Rap family of lures are excellent striped bass fishing baits. They come in a handful of sizes and just about every color pattern imaginable. The shallow diving X-Raps dive down between six and 10 feet. These are most often used by anglers casting to striped bass. They are also available as deeper diving baits, which can be cast as well. However, many anglers use these to troll with. They are very effective for catching stripers in both freshwater and saltwater. Anglers should always buy the saltwater versions as they have stronger hooks and hardware.

Bomber Long A

The Bomber Long A is another long slender jerk bait. It has been around a long time and has a great reputation among striped bass anglers. The Saltwater grade Magnum Long A is 7 inches long and is a durable and productive bait. It is a shallow diving bait that only goes down three or 4 feet. Due to its long slender design, it has a very enticing and unique action in the water. It produces well in both saltwater and freshwater applications.

Rapala Shad Rap

The Rapala Shad Rap is a favored bait among freshwater striped bass anglers. Shad are a primary forage in most lakes, along with herring. The wide profile of this bait mimics these forage species closely. This bait comes in a variety of sizes and finishes. Again, lighter colors with the dark back are generally preferred. They are also available and models that dive from near the surface to 20 feet or more. They are excellent when cast and are terrific baits to troll when trying to locate scattered schools of fish.

Yo-Zuri mag Darter

The Yo-Zuri Mag Darter is another excellent striped bass fishing lure. It has a unique weight transfer system which allows for long casts. This makes it a favorite among surf casting anglers. At first glance, it appears to be a top water bait. However it is not. The design of the face gives it a unique darting and rolling action striped bass find irresistible at times. It dives down a bit deeper than he shallow diving jerk baits, making it an excellent choice when fish are a bit deeper. It is effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Spoons

Spoons are outstanding lures for catching striped bass! A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. This simple design is incredibly effective. Spoons put out a ton of flash and vibration as they wobble through the water. This will call striped bass in from a long way as they realistically mimic a wounded bait fish. Spoons come in a variety of sizes and colors which can be used to match the locally available forage. Most anglers opt for silver finishes. However, gold can be an excellent choice in stained water and it very low light conditions.

striped bass fishing tackle

Acme Kastmaster Spoon

The Acme Kastmaster is a legendary spoon which is caught just about every freshwater and saltwater species on the planet. They cast well, making them in excellent choice for anglers fishing from the surf, as well as from jetties and boats. The combination of silver and blue or chartreuse prism finish is very popular among striped bass anglers. Anglers should keep a few gold Kastmaster spoons in the box as well.

Tailwater fishing for bass and catfish

They are extremely effective when both cast and trolled and freshwater and saltwater. The many sizes available make it very easy to match the lure to the size of the bait. There are times when striped bass are feeding on very small fry and can be fussy and difficult to hook. When this happens, the smaller sized Kastmaster spoons can save the day.

Hopkins Spoon

Hopkins spoons have been around a long time as well. They are productive when cast out towards striped bass that are working on the surface. However, they are most known for being incredibly productive when vertically jigged over schools of fish or structure. This lure is quite heavy and sinks quickly. Once down to the desired depth, the rod tip is jerked sharply and then the bait is allowed to flutter down. Most strikes occur on the fall. This is a fantastic bait to use in both fresh and saltwater striped bass are schooled up over deeper structure.

Drone Spoon

Drone spoons are very effective lures used for trolling for striped bass. Seldom are they used as casting lures. They come in several sizes, up to 6 inches long. They work well when trolled around and through schools of bunker in saltwater. Anglers fishing in lakes catch them around pods of shad as well. The long, cylindrical design gives it a very tight wiggle. These lures can be trolled fairly quickly. They are used behind sinkers, planers, and downriggers.

Deadly Dick

The Deadly Dick is a spoon-like lure that is quite effective on striped bass as well as other species. It is similar to a Kastmaster, though more slender. The heavier versions of these lures can be cast out towards feeding fish. Smaller, lighter versions are generally vertically jigged or trolled. These slender, low-profile baits can save the day and striped bass are feeding on sand deals and other small forage.

Tony Maja Bunker Spoon

These spoons are wider than most other trolling spoons. They were designed to mimic butter fish, bunker, and herring. Anglers must troll a bit slower with these or they will roll in the water. For the most part, this is a New England saltwater fishing lure.

Jigs

Jigs were probably the first ever artificial lures designed to fool a fish. These are very simple baits, consisting of a hook with a weight, usually lead, molded in near the eye. Either a natural or synthetic hair dressing is tied on or a soft plastic grub body attached. Jigs are extremely versatile and effective lures for striped bass and just about every other fish that swims. They mimic both bait fish and crustaceans.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

Spro Jigs

White buck tail jigs have been catching striped bass for many decades. Spro makes a fine product that is durable and effective. While they are available in many colors, white is the standard. Second choice would be white with chartreuse mixed in. Spro jigs are available in different sizes, water depth and current and bait fish size should determine which one is used. Jigs can be cast, trolled, and vertically jigged. They are effective in both fresh and saltwater

Bass Assassin Sea Shad

The jig and grub combination is another extremely effective striped bass fishing lure. This basically consists of a jig head with a soft plastic grub body. Bass Assassin Sea Shad Bates are 4 inches long and come in a myriad of color patterns. They work best when cast out towards feeding fish or worked over submerge structure. The jig and grub can also be trolled, but anglers must go slowly or they will spin and roll. They are equally effective in both fresh and saltwater.


Gulp SwimmingMullet

Gulp baits changed the fishing world when they hit the scene. They really are like fishing with both live bait and artificial lures at the same time. The Gulp Swimming Mullet has a tail that puts out great action and vibration and realistically mimics many of the forage species that striped bass feed on. Combined with the scent, this makes a deadly combination! It is fished on a jig head and is effective when cast towards feeding fish or bounced on the bottom in fresh and saltwater.

Parachute lures

The parachute lure is an odd looking bait that we will put into the jig family. For the most part, it is a specialized lure that is fished in conjunction with and umbrella rig. It is very popular in the Chesapeake Bay region and is also used extensively in lakes as well. It is almost always used when trolling.

Storm Wild Eye Swim Shad

The Storm WildEye Swim Shad is a favorite among striped bass anglers. It is a soft bodied swim bait that has excellent action in the water. A slow, steady retrieve usually works best. It does an excellent job of imitating shad, herring, pogies, and other forage species. It is a fairly durable bait with a razor-sharp hook. Storm Shad Bates are also manufactured with a built-in salt impregnated scent.

Umbrella rig

Umbrella rigs are very popular among anglers who troll for striped bass in both freshwater and saltwater. They consist of a wire frame with several arms, resembling and umbrella a short leader followed by a lure is tied off of each arm. In most instances, anglers use a jig and grub combination. This makes it easier to avoid tangles. Smaller versions called “Alabama rigs” have become popular among bass anglers who cast to fish.

trolling for striped bass

The idea behind umbrella rigs is fairly simple. They are designed to mimic a small school of bait fish that is swimming by. They do work very well. However, it does take a bit of practice to learn how to troll several of these without fouling the lines. A medium conventional outfit works best when trolling with umbrella rigs for striped bass.

In conclusion, this article on the best striped bass fishing tackle and lures will help anglers catch more fish!