How to Catch Striped Bass

how to catch striped bass

When researching striped bass, you must have seen numerous pictures of anglers holding their catches, and you may have wondered, “how to catch striped bass?”. It is only natural that you want to hit the waters and catch striped bass.  But first things first, you need to learn how to fish for striped bass.

Larry Stark

Professional fisherman, who loves to review new fishing gadgets.

Table of Contents

How To Catch Striped Bass (The Best Method)

Many anglers enjoy striped bass fishing due to their large size and hard-fighting nature. And you can catch striped bass from shore, when kayaking, or on a boat.

Some anglers use the chumming technique as the smell entices striper fish to swim close to the surface. But you can also try topwater bait, vertical jigs, fly fishing, and trolling.

To land these strong stripers, you need to choose the right fishing gear and ask yourself this question: “how to catch striped bass?”. Use light tackle when striper fishing in shallow backwaters. The best striper fishing rods for salt ponds and back bays should be 7 to 8 inches (similarly like bass fishing rods), coupled with a 10- to 20-pound test line and a 3000 to 4000 class reel.

Meanwhile, when fishing in open sandy beaches, use surf rods of 8 to 12 inches to allow farther casts along with 4000-size reels spooled with a 20 to 60-pound test.

And if you are boat fishing, the best spinning rod for casting and jigging should be between 7 to 7.6 inches, while 6.6 to 7.6 inches of convectional rods are perfect for trolling. When fishing for large schools, a 7 to 9-foot rod, with a reel size of 3000 to 5000, and a 20- to 30-pound test will do.

Regarding reels, best striped fishing reels should hold at least 200 yards of line, at least 4-ounce lure weights, and a 30-pound braid. Additionally, if you love freshwater striper fishing, a fast gear ratio of 7.5:1 will hold but aim for a higher gear ratio (10:1) for salt water fishing to handle strong currents.  

Also, check the fishing rod power action as it affects control, strength, and sensitivity. Powerful, slow-action rods offer more control and strength when reeling big, heavy, and fighting fish but lack sensitivity. Meanwhile, lighter, fast-action rods are sensitive to light bites but ineffective when battling large stripers.

Where To Catch Striped Bass?

places to catch striped bass

The East Coast is home to striped bass. You will find these fish in the St. Lawrence River (Canada), St John’s River (Florida), the Gulf of Mexico, and the Outlet of the Mississippi River (Louisiana). Striped bass inhabits different saltwater bodies, including sandy beaches, boulder-studded shorelines, backwaters, and open water.

Stripers also live in freshwater, so you may find them in river mouths, inland reservoirs, and lakes. They travel up to 100 miles inland during their spawning season (between April to mid-June), with the best freshwater striper fishing season occurring in fall and spring.

Striped bass love hiding in structures so they can ambush prey. You will find them in rock piles, ledges, vegetation, logs, or man-made structures. They also love spots with strong currents like inlets, harbor openings, and small breachways. Thanks to their thick muscular bodies, they can overwhelm prey while in these strong waters.

Additionally, stripers live close to schools of baitfish, so they can easily feed when hungry. Striped bass anglers identify the presence of striped bass with seagulls. You see, stripers ambush baitfish from the bottom, forcing the fish to swim upwards where the seagulls await. So, the next time you spot a group of seagulls, there is a high chance of catching striped bass.

In terms of depth, striped bass living in rivers are only 2 feet deep. But those in lakes and open water can dive to 40 deep feet or more during the hot summer months to escape the heat and find higher oxygen levels.

What is the Best Time to Catch Striped Bass?

If you want to be successfully when catching striped bass, timing is crucial. We recommend focusing on two primary stripers seasons when striped bass are most active and accessible. First, during the spring months of March to May, striped bass undergo their spawning migration, moving from wintering grounds to coastal rivers and estuaries. This migration makes them more abundant and eager to feed, offering excellent opportunities for anglers to target larger specimens. Second, the fall season, from late September to November, is another prime time for striped bass fishing. During this period, striped bass embark on their fall migration, returning to the ocean or moving southward to warmer waters. They feed voraciously to build energy for their journey, making them more aggressive and responsive to lures and baits.

By understanding the migratory patterns, seasonal behaviors, and preferred temperature ranges of striped bass, anglers can optimize their fishing strategies and increase their chances of landing these prized fish. Always consult local fishing regulations and seek advice from experienced anglers or guides to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience.

what's the prime time for catching striped bass

What time of day should I go striper fishing?

The best striped bass fishing times in the summer are dawn, dusk, or night as these fish are more active in low-light periods. However, during winter, you have better odds fishing from noon to sunset when the water is warmer and you don’t have to ask yourself how to catch striped bass.

But can you successfully catch striped bass midday? Yes, if it is a cloudy, overcast day with minimal sunshine. However, when a bright sun is overhead, you must cast your lure at deeper depths. Stripers are highly sensitive to light, and they avoid bright conditions. For more information you can read out guide: Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide?

Does Moon Affect Striper Fishing?

When planning your next striper fishing trip, consider the moon phase. The two most successful phases are the new moon (when the moon is closest to the sun) and the full moon (farthest from the sun).

During these phases, the moon’s gravitation pull creates large tide waves and brings more water. This grants the striped bass access to shallow areas close to the shore for more feeding opportunities and better fishing for you.

Additionally, striped bass has thick muscular bodies that can withstand strong currents, unlike their prey, giving stripers an advantage. Many striper fishermen plan their fishing schedule three days before and after the new and full moon for better fishing success. But some anglers mention that the full moonlight pushes the shy striped bass into deeper depths.

Do Tides Affect Striper Fishing?

Tides are another important factor to consider when fishing striped bass. Fishing in the outgoing tide works great in spring and fall, whereas the incoming tide is effective in the summer.

These fish move into river mouths and inlets to catch fish during the ebb phase and into flats and bays during the flood. But they are less active during the slack tide, although some anglers point out that this is the best time to catch the largest striped bass.

Does Wind Affect Striper Fishing?

Wind also affects your success in striped bass fishing. Strong winds can push the fish closer to the shore, making surf fishing much easier. Additionally, when winds churn the water surface, they create better feeding opportunities. But, the same winds can also push the striped bass further away or make it impossible to cast light bait.

Lastly, track the occurrence of rain and cold snaps as stripers get into a feeding frenzy hours before these events. The low-pressure systems before a cold front can help you land bigger stripers.

Does Temperature Affect Striper Fishing?

Yes, striped bass are ectothermic creatures, meaning their body temperature is regulated by the surrounding water temperature. As a result, their behavior and feeding patterns are influenced by changes in water temperature. These water patterns include:

  • Seasonal Migration – During colder months, stripers often move to warmer waters or deeper areas, while in warmer months, they may move to cooler, deeper waters or follow baitfish into shallower, more coastal regions.
  • Feeding Patterns – They are most active and aggressive during the temperature range where they are most comfortable. In cooler waters, stripers may be sluggish and less likely to strike baits or lures, while in their preferred temperature range, they are more likely to actively pursue prey.
  • Baitfish Movement – Water temperature influences the movement of baitfish, such as shad, herring, and menhaden, which are essential food sources for striped bass. As the water temperature changes, baitfish move in response, and striped bass will follow their prey, leading to different fishing opportunities in various temperature conditions.
  • Thermal Stratification – In some bodies of water, thermal stratification occurs, where the water column separates into distinct layers with different temperature and oxygen levels. Striped bass tend to occupy specific layers based on their preferred temperature range and oxygen requirements.
  • Spawning – When the water temperature reaches a specific range, usually in the spring, striped bass move into freshwater rivers and estuaries to spawn. This creates prime fishing opportunities during their spawning migration.

How Big Can Striped Bass Fish Get?

According to NOAA, these fish can reach 5 feet long and weigh over 70 pounds. Female striped bass are generally bigger than males, with most weighing over 30 pounds.

Regarding their lifespan, striped bass have an average lifespan of 8 to 12 years. But some have reached 25 to 30 years, which is a long lifespan in fish years.

Average Size of a Mature Striped Bass

The average size of striped bass is 2 to 3 feet long and 10 to 30 pounds. However, what truly stirs the excitement of seasoned anglers is the knowledge that these magnificent creatures have the capacity to grow to colossal proportions. With their impressive growth potential, striped bass are known to reach sizes far exceeding the average, sending ripples of anticipation through the anglers community and drives them to venture far and wide in search of these iconic fish.

What factors influence the growth and size potential of striped bass?

Firstly, access to an abundant and diverse food supply is paramount. Striped bass are voracious feeders, and ample forage ensures they can pack on the pounds and attain impressive sizes.

Secondly, the habitat plays a significant role. Healthy and well-managed ecosystems provide ideal conditions for striped bass to thrive, allowing them to reach their maximum growth potential. Factors like water quality, temperature, and suitable spawning grounds all contribute to their overall size.

Genetics also play a role. Striped bass with superior genetics are more likely to grow larger, passing on their robust traits to the next generation. It’s a delicate dance between nature and nurture that determines the ultimate size these magnificent fish can achieve.



Striped Bass Fishing Regulations

Striped bass regulations vary between states. But here are some regulations as of 2023:

  1. You can retain only one striper per day, between 28 to 35 inches long. Having a minimum size limit ensures the young stripers grow and mature to reproduce. This conserves the species numbers, considering the 2018 stock assessment found that stripers were overfished.
  2. You must use in-line circle hooks with live bait to prevent unnecessary injuries when returning the stripers into the water. These hooks tighten around the corner of the fish’s mouth and not the gut. In so doing, it reduces the high mortality rates caused by J-shaped hooks.
  3. Recreational and commercial striper fishing is illegal in federal waters (Exclusive Economic Zone). This zone begins at 3 nautical miles offshore and extends to 200 miles.
  4. Fishermen should follow seasonal fishing closures to protect spawning fish. Many states prohibit fishing between April and May, opening the season in June, then reclosing in December to February.   
  5. Commercial fishermen should use gear with zero to minimal impact on natural habitats. This includes trawls, seines, hook-and-line, gill, and pound nets. Leaving this gear in water can unintentionally entangle and harm turtles and other marine wildlife.

Striped Bass Fishing Setup

Lure Options

Striped bass are aggressive predators who feed on various foods depending on their location and size. They eat baitfish like juvenile menhaden, sand eels, Atlantic silversides, threadfin shad, flounder, mackerel, sea worms, squid, crabs, lobsters, grass shrimp, and more. And they are not picky about eating dead baits, either.

In striper fishing, you can use live baitfish, dead baits, and artificial jigs and lures. Sand fleas and fresh-cut menhaden are the most popular baits in surf fishing, while live eels are perfect for shore and boat fishing tackle.

Alternatively, simply cast topwater bait, diamond jigs, plugs, spoons, and soft plastics. The best lures for striped bass should be life-like, delivering similar movement to live bait. Also, the best bait colors are yellow and chartreuse, as they are more effective.

Reel Options

When it comes to selecting reels for striped bass fishing, there are several options to consider based on your fishing style and preferences. Here are four popular types of reels suitable for targeting striped bass:

  • Spinning Reel – works well with a variety of fishing techniques, including casting lures, live bait fishing, and jigging. Look for a spinning reel with a sturdy construction and a high-quality drag system. The reel size should match the rod you are using, and it’s recommended to choose a reel that can hold sufficient line capacity to handle the potential long runs of striped bass.
  • Baitcasting Reel – favored by anglers who prefer casting heavier lures and want more control over their presentations. They are excellent for fishing in areas with structure or when you need precise casting accuracy. Baitcasting reels should have a strong drag system and be capable of holding heavier braided or monofilament lines to handle larger striped bass.
  • Conventional Reel – provides a higher line capacity and stronger drag systems, making them suitable for handling large, powerful fish. If you plan to troll for striped bass or fish in deep waters, a conventional reel with level wind is a practical choice.
  • Baitrunner Reel – a type of spinning reel with a secondary drag system, are popular for live bait fishing. They allow you to set a lighter drag for the initial run of the fish while still providing control over the fight when you engage the main drag. Baitrunner reels are great for presenting live bait effectively to striped bass.

Rod Options

For striped bass fishing, you’ll want to use a fishing rod that is suited for specific techniques that you are comfortable using. Here are four popular rod options commonly used for targeting striped bass:

  • Medium to Heavy Power Spinning Rod – works well for shore-based fishing or when casting from a boat.
  • Baitcasting Rod – ideal for fishing in areas with structure or when you need to make precise casts. L
  • Surf Rod – suitable for catching larger striped bass that often frequent the surf zone.
  • Trolling Rod – sturdy and have the flexibility to handle the pressure of trolling lures or bait while trolling at varying speeds. Choose a rod with a length between 7 to 8.5 feet, and ensure it has enough backbone to handle the fight when a striped bass strikes.

We also recommend to give a try for pier fishing rods, because in our experience they are extremely suitable for striped bass fishing.

Final Thoughts on Catching Stripers

To effectively target striped bass, it is crucial to employ a diverse and strategic approach. Begin by acquiring a comprehensive understanding of their preferred habitats. Factors such as water temperature, tide fluctuations, and the availability of prey play pivotal roles in identifying productive fishing locations.

In selecting bait and lures, opt for a versatile array that caters to prevailing conditions. Soft plastic swimbaits, topwater lures, and realistically colored jigs are effective in mimicking the local baitfish and enticing strikes for stripers.

Experiment with various retrieval techniques to replicate the behavior of injured prey and stimulate the predatory instincts of striped bass. Timing is of paramount importance, and prime fishing periods often occur during early mornings or evenings.

Lastly, exercise patience and adaptability when pursuing striped bass. These fish can exhibit unpredictable behavior, necessitating flexibility in fishing tactics. Monitoring weather changes and displaying persistent dedication in your angling endeavors will undoubtedly lead to the gratifying reward of landing a magnificent striped bass.