Warm summer temps and warm water force striped bass to cooler deep waters. If you take advantage of this period, you can put a lot of fish in the boat with little effort. In order to do that, you need a down rod set-up and a good school of fish.
Striped bass, also known as striper or rockfish, have the unique ability to thrive in both freshwater and saltwater environments. For this post, we're focusing on the freshwater land locked striped bass. Many lakes are stocked with stripers and have seen the species thrive.
Striped Bass are a schooling fish that move as the water temperature changes. In the cooler months, top water action can be found and you can catch larger stripers in as little as a foot of water. As the water temperatures begin to rise, they begin to move to the deeper cooler waters of the lakes. This is the time to use a down-rod set-up.
Using down-rods is just as it sounds. You're fishing weighted live bait at specific depths below the boat. This is a targeted way of catching striper where trolling is covering water to catch striper. If you can find the fish packed in a school, the action will bring you back for more.
Finding the Fish
Before you can catch them, you've got to find them. In the summer months, stripers will group into schools and look for bait fish. In most lakes, they feed on herring and shad. Using your depth finder and a chart, set out over humps, points and channels. Start in the 50-60 ft range and work your way down. If you see a school suspended at a certain depth, make note. They're not likely to feed suspended, but it tells you where to look on your chart. Find a hump or flat at that depth and you'll soon find a school of feeding striper.
You'll know when you've found stripers. In the summer, they're pretty much the only fish that will be deeper than 50 feet. Your depth finder will show multiple streaks crossing the screen. The more the better.
Rod and Bait Set-up
Rod Choice: Medium-light action, 7 foot
Weight: 1-2 oz egg sinker
Terminal Tackle: 3-4 feet of fluorocarbon leader, circle or snell hook (size 1-2)
Bait: Herring or Shad hooked through the nose
Set-up: glass bead - sinker - glass bead - 2-way swivel - leader - hook
Time to Catch
Holding the rod or using a rod holder, hook the bait through the nose and send it down to the bottom. Once you feel the weight hit the bottom, take out the slack and reel back 3-4 feet of line. This suspends the bait and allows it to swim more naturally. If you're over the fish, then you should get a bite pretty immediately. Striper attack the bait, so do not be surprised. When you feel a good bite, reel out the slack and depending on the hook, set it. For a snell hook, a good tug and for a circle hook, keep cranking the reel.
Keep the School Below the Boat
Setting out multiple baits or chumming can keep the school below the boat. As long as the fish are feeding, they'll stick around. It's recommended that you put out 4-6 lines to help keep the fish below the boat and up your chances. Take a couple of buddies to help you man the extra lines.
Rules and Regulations
Check your local regulations on rod limits per person and fish limits. Striper have been over fished in the past and most stocked lakes will have limits set by Game and Wildlife. Be sure you're fishing within the rules.
Striped Bass are a great species of fish to catch and eat. With a group, the action can be fast and intense. Striper will run and dive and when they are feeding in a school, you can meet your limit in a matter of minutes.