How To Fish For Striped Bass

Striped bass, also known as “stripers,” are a popular and sought-after game fish native to the Atlantic coastline of North America. They are easily recognizable by their sleek, silvery body marked with distinctive dark stripes running from their head to tail. Striped bass can grow to a considerable size, often reaching lengths of over 3 feet and weights exceeding 30 pounds, making them a thrilling catch for anglers.

This guide will cover various aspects of striped bass fishing, including the ideal fishing setup, bait choices, effective fishing techniques, the best times to fish for them, their preferred habitats, and tips for beginners, along with recommended fishing gear and tools.

Striped Bass Fishing Setup

To successfully catch Striped Bass, the right fishing setup is crucial. The most common tackle includes a medium to heavy action rod, paired with a suitable reel. For the rod, a length of 7 to 9 feet is ideal, providing a good balance between casting distance and control. This size is versatile enough for both surfcasting and boat fishing. A spinning or baitcasting reel that can handle 20 to 30-pound test line is recommended, as it offers the strength and durability needed to reel in these powerful fish.

The best setup for stripers often involves a braided line, which is preferred for its strength and sensitivity. A 30 to 50-pound test braided line is a great choice, allowing you to feel the slightest bites and providing enough strength to handle larger stripers. For leaders, a 20 to 30-pound test fluorocarbon leader is typically used. This setup ensures a strong, abrasion-resistant line that is less visible in the water, increasing your chances of a strike.

When it comes to the best rig for striper, the fish finder rig is highly effective. This rig involves a sliding sinker on your main line, followed by a swivel, a leader, and finally your hook. The sinker weight will depend on the current and the depth you are fishing in but typically ranges from 2 to 6 ounces. The hook size should be appropriate for the bait used, usually within the range of 5/0 to 8/0, depending on the bait size. This rig is effective as it allows the striper to pick up the bait without feeling the weight of the sinker, leading to more successful hook sets.

Best Bait For Striped Bass

Striped Bass are opportunistic feeders with a diverse diet, making them an exciting species to target with various baits and lures. They commonly feed on smaller fish such as herring, shad, eels, and menhaden, also known as bunker. Additionally, they consume crustaceans like crabs and lobsters, especially when they’re younger.

The best live bait for striper is often what’s naturally abundant in the waters you’re fishing. Live eels and live bunker are top choices. Eels are particularly effective due to their sinuous, swimming motion which entices strikes from stripers. When using eels, hook them through the eyes or lips and allow them to swim freely. For bunker, you can use them whole by hooking through the nostrils or mouth, or as cut bait. Cut bait releases oils and scent into the water, attracting bass from a distance.

When it comes to lures, striper can be caught on a variety of options. Topwater lures like poppers and stickbaits are effective, especially during early morning or late evening when stripers are feeding on the surface. These lures should be worked with a rhythmic, splashing motion to mimic injured prey. Soft plastic lures, such as swimbaits or shad imitations, are also excellent. They can be rigged on jig heads and retrieved with a steady pace, or bounced along the bottom. Additionally, spoons and metal jigs work well, especially when stripers are feeding on smaller baitfish. They should be cast and retrieved at varying speeds or jigged vertically in deeper waters.

In summary, the best bait for stripers include live eels and bunker, and artificial lures like topwater lures, soft plastics, spoons, and metal jigs.

striper lures
striper lures

Striped Bass Fishing Techniques

Here are some of the most common and effective techniques for catching Striped Bass, with details on their setups and ideal conditions for effectiveness.


Trolling is a popular method for targeting stripers, especially in larger water bodies. The setup typically involves a boat moving slowly while dragging one or more lines equipped with lures or baited hooks. The ideal setup includes a medium-heavy trolling rod, a conventional reel spooled with 20-30 pound test line, and a variety of lures such as bunker spoons, swim shads, or umbrella rigs. This technique is most effective when stripers are active in open water, particularly during their migration in the spring and fall. Trolling allows you to cover a large area and present your lures at different depths, making it easier to locate and target schools of fish.


Surfcasting is a shore-based technique that’s highly effective for stripers, especially along coastal beaches and estuaries. This technique requires a long, heavy-duty surf rod, typically 9-12 feet in length, paired with a high-capacity spinning or baitcasting reel. Anglers use heavy lines, usually 20-30 pound test, to cast large lures or bait rigs far into the surf. The best times for surfcasting are early morning or late evening, coinciding with high tides when stripers come closer to shore to feed. Popular baits include chunks of bunker or clams, while effective lures are plugs, jigs, and soft plastics. Surfcasting’s appeal lies in its accessibility and the thrill of landing a large striper from the shore.


Jigging is an active technique that works well in both shallow and deep waters. The setup involves a short, medium-heavy rod with a fast action, paired with a spinning or conventional reel spooled with 20-30 pound test braided line. Anglers use metal jigs or bucktail jigs, which are cast and then retrieved in a series of hops and pauses, mimicking injured baitfish. This technique is highly effective in areas with significant structure, like reefs or shipwrecks, and during times when stripers are actively feeding on smaller fish. Jigging requires a bit of skill to master the retrieval technique, but it’s incredibly rewarding, often triggering aggressive strikes from stripers.

Live Lining

Live lining involves using live bait to attract stripers, and it’s particularly effective in estuaries, rivers, and near underwater structures. The setup includes a medium-heavy rod and reel combo, with a line in the 20-30 pound range. Live baits like eels, bunker, or herring are hooked through the lips or back and allowed to swim freely. This technique is most effective when you know stripers are in the area, feeding on specific baitfish. Live lining is a more passive approach but can be extremely effective as it presents the most natural bait presentation to the fish.

Best Time To Catch Striped Bass

Catching Striped Bass involves understanding their behavioral patterns and adapting your fishing techniques accordingly. Here’s a detailed guide on the best times to catch Striped Bass:

  • Striped Bass spawn in the spring, typically from April to early June, in fresh or brackish waters.
  • Early morning and late evening are the best times to catch Striped Bass. These periods, known as the “golden hours,” offer low light conditions which make bass more active and less cautious.
  • Fall (September to November) is the prime time for Striped Bass fishing. The fish are actively feeding in preparation for their migration and winter, making them more aggressive and likely to bite.


During the spring, stripers move to freshwater or brackish rivers to spawn. Post-spawn, they are hungry and active, making late spring an excellent time to fish. The best technique during this season is live lining with baitfish like herring or shad, which are natural prey for stripers in these areas. Casting soft plastics or swimbaits near spawning grounds in the early morning or late evening can also be very effective.


In the summer, stripers typically move to deeper, cooler waters. Early morning and late evening remain the best times to fish, as the bass are more likely to venture into shallower waters to feed. Trolling with deep-diving plugs or jigging in deeper waters near underwater structures can be highly effective techniques. Additionally, fishing near ocean fronts where cooler, nutrient-rich water attracts baitfish can yield good results.


Fall is arguably the best season for striper fishing. As the water cools, stripers become more aggressive in feeding. Surfcasting with lures like poppers or using live eels can be highly effective, especially during the early morning and late evening hours. Trolling along migratory routes with bunker spoons or umbrella rigs can also yield impressive catches.


During the colder months, striper fishing can be challenging as fish become less active. However, in areas where stripers overwinter, slow-trolling with jigs or working deep-diving lures near the bottom can still produce catches, especially on milder winter days.

Night Fishing

Stripers are opportunistic feeders and can be caught at night. Using lures that create vibration and sound, like rattling plugs or vibrating swimbaits, can be effective as they rely on their lateral line to detect prey in the dark. Fishing with live eels or chunk baits near light sources such as docks or piers can also be successful, as these lights attract baitfish and, in turn, stripers.

Where To Find Striped Bass

Striped Bass thrive in a variety of water bodies including coastal oceans, bays, estuaries, and rivers.
They can be found at various depths depending on the season and water conditions, typically between 10 and 30 feet. However, they can also be caught in shallower or deeper waters.

A fish finder is crucial for locating stripers, especially in deeper waters. It helps identify underwater structures, depth changes, and schools of fish, which are potential hotspots for striper.

Coastal Oceans

In coastal oceans, stripers are often found near structures like rocky outcrops, ledges, and wrecks. Trolling with bunker spoons or umbrella rigs is a highly effective technique in these areas. Depth is key, so adjusting your trolling depth based on where you find fish with your fish finder is crucial. During migrations, stripers travel along the coastline, making them accessible to both boat and shore anglers.

Bays and Estuaries

Bays and estuaries are prime locations for stripers, especially during their spawning season in the spring. In these brackish waters, live lining with baitfish such as herring or using soft plastics can be very effective. Focus on areas with moving water, like channels and inlets, as stripers often hunt in currents where baitfish are swept along.


In rivers, stripers can be found in deeper pools, around structures like bridge pilings, and in bends where the current creates deeper areas. Jigging with soft plastics or using live baits like eels can be very effective. Pay attention to the tidal movements as the changing water levels can significantly affect the positioning and activity of stripers.


Shore fishing for stripers is particularly popular along beaches, piers, and jetties. Surfcasting with heavy-duty rods and reels, using lures like poppers, swimbaits, or jigs, can be highly effective, especially during early mornings and late evenings. Fishing close to structures such as rock groynes or piers, where baitfish tend to congregate, increases the chances of a successful catch.

Tips To Catch Striped Bass For Beginners

here are some straightforward tips for beginners looking to catch Striped Bass:

  • Start with a simple rod and reel. A medium-heavy spinning rod around 7 feet in length, paired with a spinning reel, is a versatile and easy-to-use option.
  • Use a monofilament or braided line in the 15-30 pound test range. It’s strong enough to handle the size and fight of a striper.
  • Start with a few basic lures such as swim shads, bucktail jigs, and topwater poppers. These mimic the natural prey of striper and are easy to use.
  • Live eels are an excellent bait for beginners. They’re irresistible to striper and don’t require complex techniques. Alternatively, fresh cut bait like bunker or herring is also effective.
  • Use a circle or J-hook in a size appropriate for your bait (around 5/0 is a good starting point). For live bait, hook the eel through the lips or the back near the tail. For cut bait, ensure the hook is securely through the bait and the point is exposed.
  • A fish-finder rig is simple and effective. Slide an egg sinker onto your main line, attach a barrel swivel, and then a 2-3 foot leader to your hook. This setup allows live bait to swim naturally.
  • When using bait, whether live or cut, allow it to move with the current. The more natural the presentation, the more likely a Striped Bass will bite.
  • Focus on prime times and locations. Fish during early morning or late evening, and in areas where Striped Bass are known to feed, such as near structures or where currents bring in baitfish.
  • Striper fishing often requires patience. Pay attention to the environment, such as bird activity or baitfish movements, for signs of Striped Bass.
  • Learn to Read the Water. Look for ripples, changes in water color, or areas where waves break differently, indicating underwater structures where fish might be hiding.

Best Striped Bass Fishing Gear And Tools

The best fishing gear for Striped Bass includes a well-selected combination of fishing rod, line, reel, and electronics like fish finder. Here are the recommendations for each.

Fishing Rod

The ideal striper fishing rod is a medium-heavy to heavy action rod, about 7 to 9 feet in length. This range offers the necessary backbone to handle the size and strength of Striped Bass while providing enough sensitivity to detect bites. A longer rod also aids in casting distance, which is particularly beneficial for surf fishing or when trying to cover more water from a boat.

Fishing Line

Braided line is often the best fishing line for Striped Bass due to its high sensitivity and strength. A 20 to 30-pound test line is typically ideal, balancing durability and the ability to handle larger fish with the finesse needed for effective lure presentation. Braided line also has a smaller diameter compared to monofilament, allowing for longer casts and better handling in currents.

Fishing Reel

A high-quality spinning or baitcasting reel that can handle the strength of Striped Bass is essential. For spinning reels, look for a model that can hold at least 150 yards of the chosen line strength. It should have a smooth, reliable drag system to handle the powerful runs of a Striped Bass. Baitcasting reels are excellent for precision casting and control, especially when using heavier lures or bait setups.

Fish Finder

A fish finder is a crucial tool for locating Striped Bass, particularly in deeper or larger water bodies. The ideal fish finder for striper should have a good depth range, GPS functionality for marking productive spots, and clear imaging technology to identify underwater structures and schools of fish. Side Imaging and Down Imaging sonars are highly beneficial for getting a detailed view of what’s beneath and around the boat.