Strategy: Jigging Structure for Striped Bass #162

Jigging Over Structure for Striped Bass from a Boat

You could argue that stripers and trout are similar in how they stage on structure in heavy current. While in bigger, deeper waters, a striper might behave like a trout waiting for a fly when it stages behind drop offs, boulders, wrecks or whatever large structure might be present, eagerly waiting for a bait fish to be swept down by the tide. You have three potential options here.

  1. Anchor in front of the structure and drift backwards.
  2. Keep the boat in gear to hold the position and drift the bait.
  3. Make repeated drifts over the structure

In any of the three cases, the key point here is that you are attempting to imitate a bait fish being swept down with the tide, over the available structure — all with your rod and lure.

When Fishing a Steady Position: Positioning yourself in front of the structure is a great method to focus on just one point of the structure you are targeting. Be sure to have a plan for hooking up with a large fish that requires you to drift off anchor quickly.

  1. Anchor or maintain enough forward gear to hold the boat in position about 50 feet in front of the structure.
  2. Drop your lure to the bottom and jig it upwards four or five times.
  3. Once you feel the lure rising off the bottom, drop it back down.
  4. Repeat

When Drifting: I tend to favor drifting, personally, over anchored structure jigging, as you can fish all areas around a piece of structure. In many cases, stripers will position themselves in a number of different places around the structure. Drifting is also ideal when vertically jigging rips caused by a shoal. By not being tethered to the bottom, you are able to move around more easily and try different spots.

  1. Run up tide about 200 feet in front of the structure you would like to fish.
  2. Drop your lure to the bottom and jig it upwards four or five times.
  3. Once you feel the lure rising off the bottom, drop it back down.
  4. Repeat.
Go-To Hogy Imitators: This is a hard selection here as the go-to lure often depends on the hatch. In a situation where stripers are staging, chances are they are expecting a very specific bait to blow by in the current.
A few scenarios might include (see chart below for reference): 
  1. Squid and Sand Eels: A 7″ or 9″ Hogy Pro Tail Eel in pink would work best for this situation. The weight will depend on the current speed but I would do as low as 1.5oz in 20 feet of water and as heavy as 5oz in 60+ feet of water. The Hogy Sand Eel Jig and the Slappy Jiggin’ Eel will also do the trick.
  2. Herring: It’s hard to beat the 6.5″ Hogy Pro Tail Paddle, as far as a herring imitation goes. White, blue and silver are the most popular colors for herring imitations.
  3. Peanut Bunker/Flounder: The Peanut Bunker Jig, as the name describes, is perfect for targeting stripers keyed in on bunker where as the baby fluke imitation plastics rigged with a Swimbait hook, Barbarian hook or simple Circle Hook, will do the trick.