4 Proven Strategies for Coastal Striped Bass

anglers with striped bass

The striper bite has heated up along the Atlantic coast. Learn the best techniques for getting in on this exciting fishing action.

Ask any Northeast angler:  No other saltwater species attracts more fervor, with a cult-like following, than the striped bass, also knows as rockfish, linesider, striper, or even the affectionate old-school term of “ol’ Pajamas.”

Although striped bass are found in many areas, including Northern California and freshwater impoundments from the South to parts of the West, the coastal striper’s epicenter spans the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coast from Maine to North Carolina. With average size classes ranging from 5 to 50 pounds on any given day, the species can be hooked on a variety of methods, all certain to raise your adrenaline level.

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Use Wake Baits to Catch More Fish

Crickhopper sunfish

Waking the surface with crankbaits and minnow lures is a highly effective tactic for everything from bluegills to saltwater predators like redfish and striped bass. Here’s what you need to know about this fun fishing technique.

You wouldn’t think a 1 ½-inch Rebel Crickhopper and a 7-inch Cotton Cordell Red Fin would have anything in common. One is grasshopper shaped, weighs only 3/32 ounce and is best fished on ultralight tackle. The other is shaped like a big baitfish, weighs a full ounce and is best suited for fairly heavy spinning or baitcasting tackle.

However, these two baits (along with many others that fall in-between in size) lend themselves to fishing the same way. Both work wonderfully as wake baits, and while the scale of everything, the setting and the fish species targeted differ substantially, the actual technique and the explosiveness of the results are the same.

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Stream Trout Lures You Should Not Overlook

Brown Trout catch

Hard baits, including minnow imitators and specialized crankbaits like Rebel Crawfish and Crickhoppers provide major advantages for stream trout and produce great results.

“This is all they’ve been hitting,” the guy behind the fly shop counter advised my son, Nathaniel, showing him a midge so tiny it was barely visible on the tip of his finger. “With it being all catch-and-release, those fish get very fussy.”

Nathaniel wasn’t planning to fly-fish, so the suggested pattern didn’t matter, but he listened politely and nodded, maybe wondering slightly if a small jig might work best when we got to the stream the next morning. Shortened version: The trout were highly aggressive, and Nathaniel caught most of his fish on Rebel Wee-Crawfish and his best fish on a 3 ½-inch jerkbait that he had equipped with a 1/O single hook. Other young anglers we saw that day were having minimal success.

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Breaking Down the Bass Jig

The bass jig – the manliest form of bass fishing out there. It seems after every tournament when anglers gather round to share their near misses that anyone who threw a jig sticks their chest out as they describe the harrowing details, even if they didn’t land in check range! But why is this? I attribute the testosterone boost of throwing a jig to the mental toughness it takes to fish slowly and the destructive hook sets you get to lay to a bass. Add in the ability to land above average bass and its quite easy to see why so many anglers are drawn to the legendary lure known as the jig.

But what is a jig? I mean, there are so many options out there that say bass jig on the package so where do you even begin?

Well for starters a bass jig is any lead head lure with a hook and a plastic keeper. Typically, they sport a fine silicone skirt in various colors and a weed guard protruding from the head to keep the lure from snagging cover. The jig can have several different head designs, but I like to classify them all in a few categories like football, casting, flipping, finesse, and swimming.

Basically, all a jig needs to do is slip through the desired cover you are fishing efficiently and show off the plastic it is carrying. Jigs get bit the most when they are subtle and lifelike.

To be the most efficient we are going to break down the cover often fished and choose which heads to use in that type of cover.

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Catch More Crappie from the Bank

Bank fishing for crappie

The spring “crappie run” pushes large numbers of fish within easy casting distance of shore, creating outstanding opportunities to catch plenty of crappie without launching a boat.

No fishing report was ever needed. Multiple cars parked roadside near the bridge during spring told me everything I needed to know. The next day I’d pack an ultralight and box of crappie jigs and floats when I left for work, and on the way home, I’d add my car to those parked roadside. And for the next couple of months, as often as my afternoon schedule would allow, I’d stop, walk down the riprap by the bridge, and catch some crappie.

I no longer have a daily commute that takes me across a spring crappie spot, but there are plenty of places nearby where I can (and do) go find spring action when the time is right. Bank fishing for spring crappie provides fun, simple and dependable action that is convenient to millions of anglers across the nation.

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Simple Float Fishing for Spring Bluegills

child with bluegill

Here’s what you need to know about an easy and dependable way to catch fish during spring from ponds, lakes and streams throughout the country.

Whether you are beginning to learn how to fish with a float for bluegills and other panfish or a seasoned angler who has the technique dialed to a science, you simply cannot beat the feelings of anticipation and relaxation of fishing with a Thill float and live bait.

Float fishing with live bait has been a choice of anglers dating back to the 1800s. It is one of the earliest direct line-to-pole techniques thought of, and has withstood the test of time while remaining a popular choice among many anglers of various skill levels around the world.

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Use Square-Bill Crankbaits to Catch More Bass

BOOYAH XCS Crankbaits

Square-bills excel at calling bass out of shallow cover of many types. Learn how to maximize production with these outstanding bass lures.

The square-bill is a work of art when properly presented. Fat and wobbly on a steady retrieve and rolling off any cover it hits, it’s visually appealing to the angler if visible in clear water. More importantly, it is visually appealing to bass of all sizes in clear, stained or muddy water.

Perhaps in the early days of angling with artificial lures, someone carved a bait that resembled a square-bill crankbait. It presumably would’ve had a metal lip attached.

Fred Young created what became the Big O crankbait in the 1960s at his home in East Tennessee. That famous hand-carved balsa wood bait was light, buoyant and had a unique wiggle-wobble anglers and fish loved. Young’s creations spawned generations of bass anglers and a new method of fishing. Crankbaits were already popular, but Young’s bait, manufactured from plastic by Cotton Cordell, gave new life for anglers fishing around shallow wood and rock cover.

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How to Catch Bass During the Shad Spawn

Jimmy Mason with Bandit 100 bass

If you learn the times, places and strategies to capitalize on the shad spawn, spring bass action can be spectacular. Here’s what you need to know.

The bass spawn may be over but don’t head for deeper water yet. On lakes that team with shad, one of the best shallow fishing opportunities of the season happens when these baitfish spawn. Anglers who take advantage of this phenomenon to catch spring bass, such as Alabama bass guide Jimmy Mason, refer to it simply as “the shad spawn.”

“I start seriously looking for spawning shad in the spring when the water temperature stays above 70 degrees at night,” Mason said. “Here in northern Alabama that usually happens around the last week of April to the first week of May.”

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A Complete Guide to Ned Rigging for Bass

Ned Rig Largemouth Bass

Learn why the Ned rig has become so popular and how to fish this finesse rig effectively.

Just as the title implies, we are going to break down the ever-successful Ned rig technique that has swept across the country as a great way to easily catch bass in tough conditions.

What is the Ned rig?

The Ned rig is a finesse fishing technique that involves using small plastic worms, craws, or creatures paired with a light mushroom style head so it can easily float off the bottom. This rig was originally created by outdoor writer Ned Kehde and popularized in the Midwest – so the name Ned rig stuck because of him!

The Ned rig might have reached popularity in the last ten years, but it has been around for quite a while in some form or fashion on most pressured fisheries. The first rig I learned growing up was actually a type of technique similar to this, but we simply called it “jig head worm fishing.” This was casting out a small YUM finesse worm on a light jighead with the hook exposed and slowly dragging it back to the boat. I bet I have caught 1,000 fish on this technique in every type of water imaginable, so it is easy for me to see how the Ned rig has become so popular.

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Catch More Walleye by Controlling Crankbait Depths

Bomber 25A Walleye

Several methods can help you troll crankbaits at specific depths, which can be critical for getting walleye to bite.

Doesn’t take long for it to be clear: crankbait fishing – particularly crankbait trolling – is a depth-control game. Whether you are targeting walleye in the bottom zone or suspending well above bottom, to catch them consistently you want to present your lure in their faces!

Walleye generally aren’t slashing or attacking type predators as much as they are stalkers. They just don’t typically streak away from the depth they are using to smash your crank.  In my circle of friends, we call it a “glom on” bite when they slowly “glom on” as your bait wiggles past. It’s the most common type of walleye bite and results from their reliance on big teeth to hold prey until they swallow. They don’t need to run baitfish down or smash them. They just need to glom on!

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