The Hunt for Big Stripers Part 1

After giving a seminar on how to target big bass I got thinking because of something that was mentioned to me by Charlie M from Choopy Lures. He said that info in my book The Art of Surfcasting with Lures, was right on, BUT certain things do not apply to where he fishes. For example, head on winds are different direction on LI than they are in NJ. As such they create very different conditions. Talk about a white water fishing to guys from CT and you’ll get a lot of yawns in the audience. Not, not because I suck at speaking, but because they only see white water during extreme weather and even then its choppy little waves, not exactly what i have in mind when i talk about it. And then you talk to guys in Massachusetts and they are looking at you like you have three heads when you mention putting on a wetsuit because all you ever need at canal are white boots, bunch of plugs or bucket with eels.

What is different when it comes to targeting big fish from the stuff from that I wrote in my book? Just about everything. To be honest with you, when it comes to big fish I see the success rate go like this, from best to least, live/rigged eels, bait, plugs…. yeah, I’ll get a lot of hollering from purist who insist that they can do just as well on plugs as the guys with eels but I don’t buy it. I’ve seen it way too many times where eels took big fish when no one was doing squat to believe that. Trying to pull a cow from blitz of schoolies almost never works either. Yup. staying behind the blitz after the schooling fish have passed and using big metal lip and even a pencil popper (big edge here to Atom 40 or big Danny plug) has worked forever. But even then, the size of your “cow” is generally big in comparison to blitzing fish but in reality, rarely a 40 or 50 pound fish is even in the area. Big fish ignore plugs most of the time, they did not get that big by eating everything in sight. You’ll never see big fish in numbers feeding on white bait or spearing. It would take too much effort to fill their bellies. You’ll never see a Sumo wrestler on the line for salad bar either.

Where will you find a big fish?
Here is my opinion. You’ll find them in places not so different in structure along the Northeast coast. Generally, you want to be in the  place where deep water is in the close proximity in case they need to bolt out of there. Giant bass rarely are seen on mud or sand flats in inches of water. You want availability of big bait in the close proximity. One blackfish, fluke, sea bass or similar species will make a fine dinner for Ms. Bass. You want to find out where big fish are being landed and you want to find out when. Because in my opinion, big fish feed only during specific periods each day and then they are inactive or just schooling. ..and reading SJ on their waterproof IPad’s.

After you do all this, you still need moon and tides to come together to create optimal conditions for success. You can catch smaller fish from the surf under any conditions, even fishing the “wrong” tide for specific places, catching a big fish is in my opinion a little more challenging
In Part 2, I’ll look at tide and current influence on feeding habits of big fish.
For all you FB junkies i suggest you visit Magical Bucktail  FB page today. Dante Soriente is giving away a crapload of his signature ducktails

here is the link


7 comments on “The Hunt for Big Stripers Part 1

  1. Steven MacDonald

    Hey Big Z, great stuff as usual. Still, I gotta say, with all due respect, there’s MUCH more to Mass surfcasting than just bringing a pail of eels down to the Canal. We have miles of prime beaches, backwaters, estuaries etc etc up here to cast into. We just don’t have the continuous rocky outcroppings ala Montauk that you do. If we did, we’d be rock-hopping and wetsuiting with the best of them. Places like that do exist, but for the most part, they are small stretches suitable for 1 or 2 guys, and they don’t extend for miles. Therefor, we are forced to fish sand bars, troughs, cuts etc. We look for rips, holes etc. river mouths, flats during a falling tide, anything we can get. I guess the opposite end of the spectrum would be Maine, where there is literally hundreds of miles of rocky coast. It looks like Montauk on steroids, but the resident striper population there is at the northernmost, and they’re just not as populous. Hope I didnt piss off any Mainers, but man, if Maine and Mass swapped places? You’d make millions selling Korkers!

    Tight lines always


    1. zhromin Post author

      no disrespect meant..I was only trying to illustrate a point. You have to admit that there are few eyebrows raised when wetsuits are talked about by older surfcasters (everywhere, not just in MA)
      I fish with a lot of MA guys in Cutty and they are not only in wetsuits but outswimm me any day of the week. My point was that my book really dealt with how I fish on LI and although info is relevant not necceseraly a 100% useful every place you fish

      1. Steve MacDonald

        No disrespect taken, Z. I voraciously consume anything about stripers, because even though there are “location specific” tactics, the species is still Moronae Saxitilis, whether its off NC Outer Banks, or up in Nova Scotia, it still has the same basic instincts and tendencies. There is something to be learned from any fish story, great and small.

  2. Bruce Bjork

    Maine’r here formally from CT, and you’re right stripers are not as populous up here and I sure miss the Albies and bluefish. Hoping the new “uniform” regs will allow more fish to make it past NJ, NY, MA and NH because the structure up here is fantastic. Only been up here for four years but have had decent luck once I got the Southern Coast wired even though the numbers were terrible in 2014, you got to put your time in. Looking forward to the 2015 season once the 90″ of snow melt in my front yard.

  3. jimmy z

    I fish the Ct. shore from Milford all the way up into RI, where I fish the rocks to Beavertail. I really don’t target the bigger schoolies, but larger bass. Much of what you said is reality. One thing I do know, large bass will not be in the schools and will be where the bait is.
    I like the sweatshirt Z! Nice going!

  4. mark d

    your writings are useful where i fish although a completely different area and species. not everything applies but it is my job to figure out what does and use it accordingly. thks for your contributions. great way to start the day

  5. Joe GaNun

    Great read, looking forward to the next SCJ. Regarding Maine, having made my first tourist vist last May. We stayed in Kennebunkport and loved it. Driving along that coast was off the charts. I do not think there is a shoreline as rough and tumble as that anywhere on the east coast. Absolutely beautiful. Great looking striper habitat.


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