During the summer months in New England the striped bass fishing can slow down. As the water warms the fish change their ways and become a little harder to find. Most people move on to other species of fish like bluefish, summer flounder, and scup because it seems as if the stripers have disappeared.
I was once one of the fishermen who would switch to other species because the bass fishing was too tough during the summer doldrums. Even though I love my bluefish and my share of bottom fishing I was missing catching striped bass and I didn’t want to wait until the fall to catch them again.
I started to research fishing them in the summer months. I knew that not only were people getting fish throughout the summer, there were also quality fish caught. I started out by reading any articles I could find on the subject in our local fishing magazines like The Fisherman Magazine. I found tons of useful information. One of the most notable things that I kept coming across was the time of day that fish were taken.
From the look of things Night Time Is The Right Time!
I discovered that networking with surf fishermen was very valuable. If they were doing well from the shore that meant fishing spots nearby would be effective from the kayak. I was also blessed to meet some local kayak guys who were doing very well with big bass at night and were willing to show me the ropes.
The biggest issue was safety. I needed all the equipment. That included a life vest (of course), VHF radio, Visipole 360 light, and a whistle.
Next it was time to get on the water and start learning the spots. At first it’s good to fish with people who are knowledgeable about the areas. Currents, tides, moon phases, and wind direction needed to be factored into my trips. Most of the targeted spots had strong currents and hidden rocks everywhere. It was important to have good electronics to help keep me out of trouble. I use a Lowrance Chirp 7 with a Hot Maps chip. This helps me find the structure that holds the fish and also allows me to navigate the spots I’m fishing with the built in GPS.
For night fishing the best bait is live eels. We call them stripes candy for good reason. Bass love them. Nine out of ten times if you get one in a striper’s face it will inhale it. Then it’s “Fish On!” Eels are awesome baits because they are easy to keep alive and you can catch multiple fish on one bait.
When fishing with eels I like to use a three-way rig with a 4-ounce sinker and an 8/0 circle hook. I fish with a conventional setup with 60-pound braided line topped with a 10-foot section of 50-pound test mono shock leader. The trick is to find a good rock pile and drift the eel about a foot off the bottom. Keeping the eels as close to the rocks as possible is the key to catching good fish. Big striped bass like to stay real tight to the structure. It’s important that the bait is properly presented to hook up with a trophy fish.
There are many different ways to target striped bass and I think that’s the beauty of the fishery. I fish for bass year round but fishing summer nights is the time when I know I have a chance at a true trophy. The key is to keep learning the areas I’m fishing and keeping a log so I can capitalize when the trophy fish are around. There’s nothing better than getting a sleigh ride from a cow striped bass in the middle of the night.
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