You don’t have to go to New England or even to Georgia’s Santee-Cooper in order to catch quality striped bass. These fish are anadromous which means that they were born in freshwater, usually go to saltwater to live, and then come back to freshwater to spawn. However, in the South , as well as other parts of the US, these fish sometimes never leave out to saltwater and therefore can be found in inland rivers and streams. Pound for pound, they are more aggressive than most other freshwater fish. However, in order to catch them, there are a few things that an angler needs to know.
First, they like for the water to be very cold. It is rare to find striped bass in warm waters since they can lose 6% or more of their body weight each hour in waters that are above 68°F. This means that, in the hot summer months, you will need to use deep-diving plugs and spoons in order to reach them. Conversely, in the cooler winter months, you will want to switch up and use shallow-diving and topwater lures in the shallows.
Striped bass are not in the same family as largemouth bass and therefore they have practically nothing in common with each other in terms of mannerisms, feeding habits, etc. Most notably, striped bass need long-flowing, turbulent waters to spawn. During this time, which is usually around the full moon in March for the Deep South, the male and female striped bass will spawn on top of the water. The fertilized eggs will then float downstream. During this time, based upon the warmth of the water, it can take 29 to 80 hours for the eggs to hatch. The warmer the water, the sooner the egg will hatch. Therefore, for this two week period of the year, striped bass will go into waters as warm as 72°F in order to give their spawn the best possible chances of survival. This makes hydroelectric dams a prime spot to fish.
Finally, being that they are anadromus, they will not behave as a largemouth bass in how they hunt or in how they fight. Stripers are more of an open water fish that will travel great distances and rarely rely upon structure for ambushing prey. This means that running here and there trying to get a bite will not work on stripers like it does with largemouth. Because of their aggressiveness, this also meand you will need heavier tackle and larger baits. Typically, most striper anglers will use around 14# to 17# test line and fish with plugs that are well over six inches.
Stripers are tons of fun, fierce fighters, and highly addictive to catch. Few anglers still know much about them. However, if you will follow these three key guidelines, your chances will be greatly improved to hook into the fight of your life your next fishing trip.