How To: Casting to Visible Striped Bass from a Boat
Notes: The ultimate sign that fish are in the area eating is literally witnessing fish in the area eating J Aside from stating the obvious; there are a few tips worth mentioning to maximize your good fortune. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the larger the baitfish, the less fussy the stripers will be.
When: You will usually witness blitzing stripers during the peak portions of the tides at times when there are large amounts of baitfish concentrated in the area. Many anglers look forward to the fall and spring season because of the major blitzes that occur during these times of year, but you will find breaking fish throughout the season. In the heat of the summer, it is not uncommon to fish working bait on the surface during the hours just before and after first light, in the twilight hours, and on cloudy, rainy days when the water cools.
Go-To Lures: Match the hatch. Striper blitzes can be on any baitfish in the area. Aside from having an assortment of various size, shape and colored lures, I like to focus on lures that cast well. One common mistake you will see among boat anglers is to run their boats right up on the schools; even though the fish are feeding heavily, they can also be quite spooky and getting too close, too aggressively can put the fish down.
Choosing a lure that casts well allows you to reach the fish without getting too close. Molded paddle tail baits are great in this situation as they cast well, and you can work them throughout the water column based on your retrieve speed: close to the surface when fished fast, at mid-water levels at medium speeds and near the bottom when allowed to drop there and then fished slowly.
Sometimes the feed might only last a few minutes, so having a number of rods set up with different lures is helpful as you can switch quickly from one option to another to find out what they are “dialed in on” as opposed to fumbling with excitement as you try to clip on another lure, or even worse, try to tie a knot if you are tying direct.
When the weather is calm, I will mess around with the Charter Grade poppers, sliders and dog walkers. Oftentimes, I even find myself using light Hogy Epoxy Jig® Lures and the 7″ – 14″ Hogy Originals.
When the weather gets strong, I’ll stay with the Hogy Epoxy Jig® Lures, up to 4oz., and the Hogy Pro Tail Eel, up to 3oz., depending on the strength of the tide and the wind.
Method/Approach: Be sure to “lead” the fish. You NEVER want to charge right up on them and always want to make the least amount of commotion possible. You want to get in front of the school but also give them a wide birth so they don’t sense your approach. Typically, your best option is to cast in front of the school or the edges, allowing the fish to find you lure. Sometimes, “bombing” the fish right in the middle of the pack spooks the, and if there are birds working over the fish, it is possible that you will hook the feathered predators instead of the finny ones. If possible, approach from the windward side, which will allow you the greatest distance from the school while still maintaining reachability.