Having been loyal striper fisherman for years there is nothing more frustrating than knowing that the fish are there but not hitting. The type of bait, lure, color or size doesn’t matter. When a striper gets lockjaw you are better off using dynamite. The DataSport Fish & Game Forecaster has made a difference in our fishing trips. It has been accurate enough to become a reliable tool for catching linesides.
We have found that the graph is usually accurate to at least within the half hour. Also, don’t forget to note the wind direction, sky cover and barometer. These play a huge role in predicting where the fish will be and what they will be looking for. Using that and some basic knowledge of a striper’s activity throughout the year you can increase your catch without changing anything but the time you hit the water. Below is a list of monthly habits/activity we have logged of a stripers behavior.
This is, in our opinion, the best time to striper fish; typically the earlier the better. This is the time of year when throwing a top water plug can really pay off. If they are short-striking, try throwing a Zoom fluke type bat. I prefer white ice but have seen dozens of other colors work. If they are still hitting short, try throwing a fluke and fly combination. This is where you tie a 2ft. length of line with a large streamer behind the lure. Last summer we got 90% of our strikes on the fly when they were not solidly striking the lure.
The Dog Days of Summer
When the sun gets high and hot, the stripers shut down. They will stay with the shad and prefer deep humps and steep rock walls (at least 20ft deep). They do hit well at night. A few years ago we got on a pattern of fishing all of the docks that had a light on. The light drew the shad in which, in turn, the stripers followed. Live shad is always a hot ticket but spoons (we prefer a Strike King Sexy Spoon in 5 1/2 inch) work as well. We have also done well using a buck tail with a fluke trailer and have even had luck with a fluke on a half-ounce jig head. The easiest way to find the fish is by looking for the large schools of shad. Don’t be surprised if you get a few hybrids mixed in the bunch.
Late Summer to Early Fall
When the water starts to cool the shad stay higher in the water column, which brings back the top water strike. We prefer a Bodonkadonk in Bone/Orange. This will be less productive on sunny days but typically be the best on cloudy days with a slight breeze. Sudden cold spells will slow the bite, but a day or two of warmer weather will cause the fish to start moving again. The best way to ensure a hookup is by following the bait fish. Another good bait is a large spoon because you can rip it then let it flutter. This will cause reaction strikes and if done above the school you will also get a lot of hits on the flutter, so keep tension on the line.
Fall to Winter
Once the water cools down most anglers hang it up for the year to hunt. This is one of our favorite times due to decreased boat traffic and the fact that you can really catch some monsters. Schools of bait fish are harder to find, but look for birds since they usually will stay with the schools. This time of year you can find stripers about anywhere from shallow creeks to deep points. They will hit but you need to slow it down. This is the time of year we like to throw large buck tails with grub trailers. This gives the fish a larger profile to hit. Another good bait is a suspending jerk bait. Being able to pause the bait for 10 or 20 seconds can really come in handy when the fish are being fickle.
If you live on a lake that pulls water, a great time to fish is when they are generating. This will get things moving and make the shad more active which in turn will get the stripers going. Using these tips with the Fish and Game Forecaster should help you increase your chances of more hookups per outing. As always, please feel free to ask any questions you might have.
– George Hoover