Native to eastern sea coasts, the striped bass spend most of their lives in the sea, yet they move to freshwater streams and rivers to spawn. Freshwater striped bass fishing is one of the best recreational activity for fishing enthusiasts. Whether you find these fish in open oceans, fresh waters, or salty marine creeks, striped bass is one of the best eating fish sought out by most anglers.
From school fish barely inches in length, to large mammoth sized as big as 60 pounds, striped bass can be most challenging fish to catch by recreational angles. Though since 1900, there are many recreational reservoirs and lakes where the striped bass have been provided habitats to live and thrive, these fishes like to spawn up in the streams and inlets. Nonetheless, fresh water striped bass fishing has been very popular amongst the anglers and due to this reason, I have decided to highlight it in this extensive article.
We at Exposed Outdoors provides detail on how to find and catch the fresh water striped bass. From finding the fish in a variety of habitats to baiting techniques, we will see many amazing freshwater striper fishing methods. So, let’s get into details about the fresh water stripers.
How To Find Striped Bass In Fresh Water:
Trolling in fresh water for striped bass can be a great recreational experience. In muddy flat and fresh waters, striped bass can gain large sizes. These places are filled from shore lines and surface to deep water with striped bass. Finding the exact location can be time taking but it is always worth it. The key is to get to the right depth and use the right rigging and baiting techniques.
Lakes And Reservoirs:
During summer months, striped bass, just like black bass, hide and eat under the underwater humps. These humps are small submerged islands in shallow waters, surrounded by deep water. These areas provide the fish easy access to prey such as eels, or small insects. The surrounding deep water allows fish to flee if they feel threatened. Yet most of the time, these fishes will be along the edge, at the base or around 10 feet above of these humps.
In summer nights, the sound of tense feeding action also helps to detect the spot where the striped bass are present. In spring, these fishes move up to the inlets and thus there is a large quantity of small and big striped bass in these waters.
How To Find Striped Bass In Rivers:
Rivers and channels are a great place to find these fish almost all year round. In these waters, fish are present at medium height, which allow them equal access to deeper levels and shallow grounds. This lets the fish look for food on shallower levels where the bait schools must be present, and they can easily move to deep levels for shelter and safety when needed.
In rivers, the best time to catch striped bass is when they are stacked on top of one another. Using a bigger lure would result in better fishing results. When catching this fish here, make sure to move the net in a slithering pattern. This will allow larger coverage of the channel.
How To Find Striped Bass In Muddy Flats:
In muddy flats, the striped bass hugs so close to the depth that they are barely noticeable. To a normal eye, there will not be anything here, but if you look closely, you will notice little blips, which are actually the fish.
The bottoms of these flats are filled with grass shrimp and the fish dwell on the bottom to catch and feed on them. Downriggers or dipsy divers are often used to reach these fish in these flats, depending on the depth. A knowledge of the depth of muddy flats is really important, as it is the only way of knowing how deep the fish will be.
The knowledge of depth will effect baiting and rigging too. You can consult local depth charts to get an idea about the possible presence of striped bass. You can also incorporate a wireless fishing camera to verify the depth of your bait and the presence of fish. This will allow you to save time and it will also help you to avoid the mess of dragging the bait in the mud.
Fishing At Different Times Of Day:
To fish striped bass during the day along small rivers and inlet creeks, baiting and casting from shore is ideal. The striper gather in these creeks during early spring seasons to chase baitfish. You can choose to use soft plastic or plugs to cast bait.
These inlets provide a place where it is easy to cast bait all the way clear across. Big fish also hide in small pools of water here. The benefit of casting from here is that you can cast the bait as far as you want. When you have cast the bait, slowly reel it back in, it will surely be visible to the fish along the way. Just make sure to do it slowly to mimic the natural movement of the live bait.
Whereas, if there is a strong current, then you will need to reel faster. The best way to determine the position of the fish is to cast at different angles rather than just in a straight line. It will allow the bait to remain in different depths a little longer, and the fish will be able to see it. This will allow you to determine how far from shore the fish are under the water.
When fishing for striped bass from shore, be sure to use strong gear to ensure that your equipment doesn’t break and you end up getting the fish as some fish can be as big as 30 pounds here.
Another method of catching fish in open water is jigging. This method is widely known among anglers. Basically, in jigging, a heavy weight is cast on the rod in the water and is lifted up fast, and then fall again before lifting it up again.
When you are able to find a school of striped bass, you can use jigging for a nice catch. A technique to locate them is to look for alewives or shad in large schools. This is where the bass will be.
You also need to figure out the possible depth of the position of striped bass, which will help you in jigging. Use a reel-mounted line counter and drop the jig almost 10 feet beneath the depth where school of striped bass is huddled. Now, moving fast, reel the bait back up and suddenly drop the bait again to the depth. Now reel it back in and drop it again until you get a strike.
The fast upward and downward movement of bait will attract the striped bass, imitating a live bait. In this scenario, you should be prepared to have a sudden pull as the fish will come with force. Most of the catches are occurred while the reel is moving up so brace yourself for this.
On rivers and lakes, trolling is also a very popular technique. In this technique, large baits are trolled through the strike zones. In river, the bait should be trolled around 2 feet deep inside the water. You should use planar boards which will help you to carry your bait out wide from the boat. Also, if you are using more than one or two rods, cast them at different angles so that there is a bigger possibility to easily locate the fish under water.
In smaller rivers, small and medium sized freshwater striper lures are best to use. You can either use lure that can mimic alewives or shad or you can use live bait here too. In bigger river bodies, use bait which mimic American eels as these are the best freshwater striped bass lures around here. You can use soft plastic eels or big minnow baits to mimic the live bait here.
In lakes, locate places in water which are relatively shallow and surrounded by deep water. There are humps as I have stated before, such as small submerged islands. These humps are submerged only a few feet under the surface and are surrounded by deep drop offs which lead to deep waters.
These humps provide habitat and food to striped bass which is why they surround these humps. Troll your baits using planar boards around these humps. Use wider motions to cover large surfaces.
Fresh Water Striper Fishing At Night:
Best time of the year for night time striped bass fishing is during the months of May and June. This is the time when the striped bass is largely closer to the surface and they are present in large schools which provide a big mount of catch.
During these times of the year, alewives and shad come closer to the surface to spawn and striped bass, otherwise remaining in the middle-to-low depths in the water, come to the surface in the darkness to eat.
Best way to spot the striper is to look for the spawning places of alewives and gizzard shads. The alewives likely spawn in deeper water on clear points near bays and the shad spawn on shallower waters relatively closer to shore. There will be bass around these places who have come on the surface for food. Try to listen closely to the striking sound of the bass around these spots and it will help you in locating the exact position on the fish.
Freshwater striper fishing at night is more fun than just a business activity. When the night is calm and quiet, it will be really easy to listen to the bass’s movement and striking on the mating pairs of alewives and shad. On a quiet night, the sound is as high as that of throwing a brick in the water.
Cast your bait that mimics these alewives and when you get a strike, slowly reel it in without disturbing the surrounding fish much. If you happen to catch an alewife fish instead of a bass, observe its size and use a bait that is as big at these ones.
During the nights, the best time to fish for fresh water rockfish is between 11-2 am as the action of spawning is most at peak and striped bass is very closer to the surface.
When fishing at night times, make sure that there is not much light that can disturb the water as it will lead the striper to the deeper level. Keep your flashlights and boat lights off as they can disturb the natural phenomenon of the hunt of alewives by bass. Don’t point the headlamps or any artificial light directly in the water as the bass will move quickly from that place.
If the night is bright naturally, then you will need to go a little deeper in the water to get a catch. The striped bass is light shy and they like to come on surface during night for food, yet if there is light, try to cast you bait 5 to 6 feet deeper in the water as that’s where the striper will be.
Another drawback of a bright night will be that you can have difficulty finding the spawning spots as the bass will not be on the surface juggling for prey and there will not be much noise of tail explosions. Yet they will be down a little deeper and you will need to move around to get the exact spot.
What Is The Best Time To Fish For Striped Bass?
As I have said it earlier, the best time to fish for striped bass is at night during the summer months. These months are the shad and alewives’ spawning time, which make them to move closer to the bay and surface of water during the night.
The striped bass come to the surface too, chasing the bait. They, then start striking these alewives and this is the most action packed time. The sound is so loud that it carries on water clearly.
This is the time in the entire year when the best striped bass catch is possible. Otherwise, it is also normal to catch striper during day time in winter, fall and early spring seasons.
Fishing Technique For Striped Bass:
There are lots of ways which anglers use for fishing striped bass. Most preferred ways are casting, trolling drifting and bottom fishing.
Here are some of these techniques explained.
The best technique in rivers and open waters is trolling the bait. Trolling for stripers in freshwater is a very effective technique in which anglers cast multiple lures or baits at different depths. It allows you to cover a lot of ground and fish at different depths so if the striped bass is not at one place, it will be another place and it will be easier to locate and catch them by using wide area.
When you are able to locate the position of striped bass in the water, you can then focus on casting the bait and catching fish from that area.
You can use live or artificial bait for striper trolling. Slow movements of artificial bait or live shad will attract striped bass in deeper and shallow fresh water bodies.
Drift fishing will be effective in fall and winter times when the surface water is cold and the striped bass go deeper near the bottom for warm water and food. In drifting, the freshwater striper fishing rigs are cast in deep waters and kept there for maximum time to locate and attract the fish.
Drifting is equally effective in salt water and fresh water fishing. In this striper fishing setup, you can use live bait or cut bait. Jig or spoon can also be used in drifting.
Baiting For Striped Bass:
There are lots of bait options for fishing striped bass. Here are some of the best options that are always preferred to fish striped bass.
Alewives are the best bait for striped bass freshwater fishing. If you happen to have these live bait or any plastic bait that can mimic alewives, cast them in the water where there are schools of alewives present already.
The best fishing results will be produced when you cast your bait among the schools of alewives where striped or hybrid bass are present too.
You can either use planar boards trolling, or you can drift fish with them.
The second best bait for striped bass fishing is gizzard shad. These fish are excellent bait option for hybrid and striped bass fishing.
You can use gizzard shad the same way you would use alewives. Cast them in the midst of spawning shads and you will be able to catch your desired fish in a matter of minutes.
You can troll them on planar boards and you can also drift fish with them.
American eels are the best bait for striper fishing in rivers. Striped bass love to eat fresh ocean American eels. These are often big in size which makes it easy to get the attention of big stripers.
You can troll these bait from planar boards by hooking them from the lips so they attract more fish.
Fresh Water Striped Bass Fishing In Different Seasons:
As you would surely have understood that seasons as well as the time of day matters a lot when it comes to fishing. The change in seasons affect the temperature, flow and speed of water which affect the fish. It can force the fish to go deeper in the water or it can invite them to surface. Here are some considerations regarding fishing in different seasons.
Though striped bass can be caught in fall time throughout the season, yet November brings the best striped bass along the deep channels.
During fall or before winter, the water is sold on surface and warm near the depths. The bait fishes congregate in these deep warm waters in large schools. Bass will also follow the bait down there. The presence in the depth makes it hard to spot and catch these fish in these months. Picking the right spot is extremely important in this case.
Most lakes freeze over during winter seasons. Striped bass rigs from shore are not possible during these times. If you happen to be at some place where the lake have frozen in winter, you should look for striped bass and hybrid striped bass near humps.
The humps provide shelter and food so the fish remain hidden beneath these places. You can use spoons and dead shads here for baiting. In certain states, where live baiting is allowed, you can use alewives or shads. Don’t cast your bait too close to the depth as the fishes are not present there, but you can try casting the bait in different heights to attract the bass.
In the early and mid-spring season, shallow bays, creeks and rivers are the best places for freshwater striped bass fishing. These are the places where water is warm and the food is abundant. Cast your bait and troll it along the shore or in different depth to locate the fish and catch it. Try casting bait at 45 degrees angles as it often yields best results for striped bass and hybrid striped bass catching.
As I have explained before, summer nights are best time in the entire year to catch striped bass. Even though day fishing is also yielding, but summer night produce amazing results.
Try to fish during the night where moon is hidden and the surroundings are darkest. The sound of striped bass hunting their preys will carry on the water and it will be really easy on these nights to locate the fish.
Reefs, sunken islands, reefs and ledges are the best places to do drifting around. If you spot or are able to locate schools of bait in deep waters, drifting can be beneficial to catch striped bass in these situations as well.
I have tried to cover as much details about striped bass fishing as possible. I have tried to make this article easy to read for even the beginners who are not yet familiar with many fishing terms. However, the people who know fishing, will also find this guide really helpful too.