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Striped Bass Fishing Basics

Some Basics for those who Haven't fished for Stripers

  Striped Bass, also called stripers, rockfish or linesiders. There is an attraction about stripers that makes everyone want to catch them, No matter where you may fish in the Ocean State.  They are a beautiful fish, as anyone who has seen with the sun shining off the silvery sides will agree. Catching them can be a different story, though. There are a lot of bottom fishermen who may switch to bass fishing in 2009 due to the regulations that could be applied to flounder, scup, and other species as a result of the activities of environmentalist groups. Fishing for bass can be quite different compared to bottom fishing.  Stripers are aggressive feeders at some times of the day especially when large amounts of bait are around. This is often easy to spot, as bait will be jumping or the bass will be splashing as they feed. Its a matter of Approaching carefully and stopping before you get close, then casting a lure in among them. Don't going right into or through the area of feeding fish, this is the best way to put an end to the fishing and infuriate veryone around you.  In this situation a top water plug or soft plastic matching the bait is a good choice. Cast and as soon as you hit the water, close up and begin a retrieve. Don't move it fast unless it's bluefish.
   Early morning is a very good time for bass, they will feed in the shallows adjacent to some kind of structure such as rocks, drop offs, and humps.  There also needs to be a current to sweep helpless bait past them. During this time top water plugs will be productive in the low light conditions.  If it is overcast or foggy, so much the better as the low light is excellent for bass fishing. The plugs should be poppers, surface swimmers, or walkers in white. Work them as if they are injured, stopping them on at times during the retrieve. It's so cool when the fish smashes that surface plug, splashing, rolling, then running like hell. The best way to catch bass.
   Once the sun is up pretty good, the top water plugs stop producing.  Then it is time to switch to soft plastics, moving into an area of structure in deeper water. Current is still important, the stripers depend on it to sweep bait past them.  When the tide is weak or slack you can normally expect the bass won't be aggressive, you need to bang them on the snout to get a strike. While drifting and using soft plastics, you must first move up drift from the structure and position the boat to drift over the top, then turn the motor off.  Depth is the next issue' figure out what level the fish are holding in. When working in 30 feet of water, cast then leave the bail open and count to 15 (one thousand one to one thousand fifteen), then close and start a jigging retrieve.  It is necessary to vary the retrieve, slow, fast, jigging and reeling, to find what the fish want. If you feel a hit and get no hook up, work the lure slowly with short jigs to imitate an injured fish. This will usually cause follow-up strikes. The instinct is to pull back and reel fast, but this only works with bluefish, if it's bass they likely won't chase it. Another possibility is that a bluefish may bite part of the plastic off and when you simulate an injured fish, a bass will hit it. This is due to the fact that bass love to hang below the bluefish for the scraps, since bluefish are messy eaters, chopping up a meal and not finishing it off, allowing pieces to fall down to the bottom.
   Which soft plastic to use?  Match the hatch, as they say. Use something similar to what they are eating. pay attention to what they barf up when you bring them in the boat.  Look at the bait in the water if you can see it.   For sand eels, use sluggos, or fin-s on a jighead. If they are feeding on bunker, use a 4", 5" or 6" shad swim bait in bunker color. If they are feeding on herring, use a 6" Storm swim shad in pearl.
   Trolling is different technique used to fish for stripers. It seems easy so most everyone does it.  However, there is considerable skill and knowledge needed for consistent success.  It is important to know what to do if your not catching.  Most trolling is done with wireline, downriggers, or weighted rigs.  This because bass go into deeper water once the sun is up, and you have to present your bait near them if you want a strike.  There is an area along RI's southern shore that has boulders around 28 feet down.  We use wirelne rods spooled with 200 feet of wire. This will get a lure down just below 20 feet, which is close enough to be in the strike zone, considering how the boulders stick up.  Umbrellas, tube and worm rigs, or parachute jigs are used.
  However, trolling is the last method we will use only when other fishing methods fail to catch fish that we know are down there.  It can be very productive. Speed can be from 2-6 knots, we vary it throughout the time we troll. Often we get hits right after a speed change. If it doesn't work, speed is wrong, rig is at the wrong depth, Use a different rig, or the fish are gone.  First conclusion should be you're doing something wrong.  However, if you go a half hour without a fish, its time to do something different.

By following this advice you can be sure to enjoy more productive fishing no matter where you might go when fishing in Rhode Island.

 

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