Category Archives: Striped Bass and Hybrid Bass Fishing

Lake Cumberland Striped Bass

Lake Cumberland Striped Bass Heating Up
By Lee McClellan, Kentucky FWR
from The Fishing Wire

Big Striper

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The higher angle of the sun during the day brings warm breezes as we come into the end of April. The glorious sunny days of late and air temperatures in the 70s make people joyous.

This weather makes the striped bass in Lake Cumberland hungry.

“We caught five keepers over 22 inches and about eight short stripers on our last trip,” said Jeff Bardroff, owner of JBs Guide Service on Lake Cumberland. “The fish had me so busy I couldn’t eat breakfast. By the time I got done with one fish, another rod would go down.”

Bardroff said they also caught some smallmouth and spotted bass, known as Kentucky bass along with the striped bass. His largest fish of the day was a 29-incher. Striped bass of that length usually weigh between 11 and 13 pounds. A friend of his fished Lake Cumberland last Sunday and caught an 18-pound and a 22-pound striped bass.

“Every fish we have been catching is plumb fat, full of shad and alewives,” Bardroff said. “There have been many nice, heavy fish caught in the last few weeks.”

This is good news considering how the year started. Lake Cumberland reached record pool level of elevation 756.2 feet on Feb. 26. Normal winter pool for Lake Cumberland is 705 feet while summer pool is 725 feet. Lake Cumberland’s level is currently about 722 feet.

“When they started pulling less water through Wolf Creek Dam about two weeks ago, the stripers started gorging,” Bardroff said. He’s been catching fish in the major creek arms from the Wolf Creek arm of the lake to the dam.

“About mid to three-quarters of the way back the creeks, where water temperatures get a little warmer, is where I’ve found fish,” Bardroff said. “Surface water temperatures have climbed to 64 to 68 degrees during the day.”

Bardroff, who also is an administrative specialist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, trolls shad or alewives under planer boards. He catches bait from the lake using a cast net, but commercially-bought large shiners also work for these fish.

“The stripers are shallow right now, from 15 feet deep up to the surface,” he said. He prefers to stagger the depth of his lines until he finds the depth the stripers prefer. “I put out five planer boards on each side of the boat at this time of year,” Bardroff said. “I use a light weight of 3/8- to 1/2-ounce on the planer boards, but right now I have no weight on the most outside lines.”

He also puts out two downlines off the front of the boat using 12-foot rods with 3-or 4-ounces of weight. “The longer rods help keep them from tangling with lines in the back,” Bardroff said. “It is a lot of fun catching stripers on those long rods.”

Bardroff also puts out two lines off the back suspending bait under large, striper-sized bobbers. He uses 20-pound test monofilament for the main line with 15-pound fluorocarbon for the leader. He ties a 2/0 circle hook on the business end.

This set up works well for bottom fishing for those who don’t have the equipment to troll. Start at the midway point of a major creek arm and beach the boat near a point. Put out a few lines rigged with shad, alewives or shiners at different depths. Give the spot one-half hour and move. Eventually you’ll find stripers.

April through late May is also the time of year for anglers who want thrilling sport, as stripers rip through spawning schools of threadfin shad and alewives at night.

“They are catching them at night right now on Rapala Slivers,” Bardroff said. The Sliver runs from 9- to 11-feet deep and anglers slice points in the major creek arms and the main lake at night with these lures. The best colors are the venerable red and white or silver.

As the water warms a touch, lures such as a Redfin or Jointed Thunderstick draw vicious strikes. These are floating/diving style lures, but gently rock back and forth on the lake’s surface when retrieved slowly. Hold on tightly to your rod and keep your mind on business when night fishing for striped bass. They hit these lures with a savagery rarely found in nature and can pull the rod from your hands.

“I fish main lake points and the points in the major creek arms for stripers at night,” said Major Shane Carrier, assistant director for law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “I hop point to point and fish the 100 yards before the point and the 100 yards after.”

Carrier’s favorite lure is the Jointed Thunderstick in chrome with a blue back and a green tiger color they no longer make. “I’ve caught so many stripers at night on that lure that it no longer has much paint on it,” he said.

Medium-heavy to heavy baitcasting gear and lines of at least 17-pound test are recommended for Slivers, Redfins and Thundersticks. Light inshore saltwater medium-heavy spinning gear also works for night stripers, but throwing large lures on spinning tackle is taxing to the hands and wrists after a few hours.

Avoid setting the hook until you feel the weight of the fish. These lures attract huge walleye at night as well and they must take the lure a bit before you can land them.

“I caught my biggest walleye, a 7 ½-pounder that was 31 inches long, at night striper fishing,” Carrier said. “You catch more walleye in May at night. May is my favorite time to night fish because you can catch stripers and walleye.”

Spring has sprung, and it is time to fish for striped bass at Lake Cumberland.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

White Bass Time Across Arkansas

White Bass Time Across Arkansas
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
from the Fishing Wire

LITTLE ROCK — Each spring, anglers across The Natural State start getting the fever for some fishing action. Sure, die-hard anglers and veteran bass fishermen have been on the water fishing for big fish for the last month or so, and many crappie anglers never put the boat away in winter, but by and large, the best angling action of the year is just around the corner. If there’s a kickoff to “fishing season,” it’s the fast and furious angling action brought on by the annual migration of white bass from large lakes and rivers upstream to their spawning areas each spring.

“The white bass spawn is fishing’s equivalent of the opening day of dove season,” said Chris Racey, deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “You’ll start hearing people ask, ‘Are the white bass running yet?’ beginning in late February and early March every year.”

White bass typically start concentrating near the mouths of streams feeding lakes and rivers each year as the surface water temperature begins to reach 50 degrees. When the water warms to the mid-50s, the fish will move upstream as far as they are able and spawn on sand or gravel surfaces with flowing water that will aerate their eggs.

“White bass don’t tend and fan a nest like crappie, bream or largemouth bass,” Racey, who was a fisheries biologist for the AGFC for many years, said. “Instead, their eggs settle to the bottom and stick to rocks and gravel where the current keeps them aerated until they hatch.”

The fish actually don’t bite much when they are actively spawning, but feed heavily just before and afterward.

“It’s more a matter of fish being concentrated in an area and being easier to locate that makes the white bass run such a big deal for many anglers,” Racey said. “And this is one of the few times of the year that these fish, which normally spend their time in deep water, will be available for bank anglers.”

Keeping things light is a must for walk-in angling, and Racey has narrowed down his arsenal to some specific lures for people to carry in their pack.

“I have three baits in my white bass tackle box,” Racey said. “My go-to is a white 2-inch curly shad Bass Assassin grub on a 1/16-oz. jighead. Then I’ll bring a ?- or ¼-oz. White spinner with a silver blade and a small, blue over orange belly Rapala suspending jerk bait. You can throw all of them on light spinning tackle.”

Here’s a list of some of the most popular places to try your hand at fishing for white bass this spring, according to the biologists who work and fish on these waters. There’s even one location in this list that has no limit on white bass, so anglers looking to have a family fish fry can load the boat.

Magical Millwood
Typically one of the first locations in the state to start receiving reports about the annual white bass run is Millwood Lake in Little River County. This southwestern Arkansas reservoir is known as one of the best places in the state to chase memorable-sized largemouth bass because of an intense Florida-strain largemouth stocking program that has been in place for decades and its shallow-water habitat that is the key to the strain’s success. The river that feeds this giant reservoir also is home to some incredible action during the white bass spawn if anglers know where to look. According to AGFC Regional Fisheries Biologist Supervisor Eric Brinkman, many anglers enjoy fishing the river section of the lake by boat for fiesty white bass.

“Little River anywhere upstream of Yarborough Landing on Millwood is a good place to fish,” Brinkman said.

According to the AGFC Weekly Fishing Report, Millwood Lake Guide Service points out McGuire Oxbow and the entrance to Cemetery Slough as likely staging areas, but when the fish move upstream of the U.S. Highway 71 bridge, the spawn is in full force.

Other areas on Brinkman’s short list for the white bass spawn include Star of the West Recreation Area and Self Creek on Lake Greeson in Pike County and the Saline River upstream of Dierks Lake in Sevier County, although a boat is required for Self Creek and Dierks.

Bust ‘em at Beaver Lake
In the far northwestern corner of the state, Beaver Lake offers one of the best white bass runs for Arkansans. It also has the distinction of being one of the few places in the state where you may find a trophy-class striper working its way up the same tributaries as the white bass. Fisheries Supervisor Jon Stein says this year has already gotten off to an excellent start, with many anglers reporting 100-fish days. And keeping those white bass is no issue because Beaver Lake and its tributaries have no daily limit for white bass. The prolific nature of the species and relatively light pressure on the resource have made limits on the fish unnecessary in this corner of the state.

“The fish move into the river arms to spawn,” Stein said. “The best locations are out of the Highway 45 Access, called Twin Bridges, on the White River and War Eagle Creek below War Eagle Mill. You don’t have to get too technical with it, either. A Mister Twister Sassy Shad on a jighead works just fine for me to catch whites on the run.”

Find the flow at Lake Conway
White bass also make a spawning run around Lake Conway, but the hot bite may be in different locations depending on water flow. AGFC Regional Fisheries Supervisor Tom Bly and Fisheries Biologist Matt Schroeder both agree that the upstream end of Gold Creek beyond Wilhelmena Cove, a popular crappie-fishing location, in the northwest portion of the lake has a good run of white bass. Another place where anglers can look for some action is below the dam where the lake flows into Palarm Creek.

“We will get reports of white bass and some stripers from the Arkansas River running up to as far as the Conway Dam, but there won’t be much action unless the gates of the dam are open to maintain water levels during rain events,” Bly said. But you can catch them on white or shad-colored curly tailed grubs on jigheads, smaller crankbaits or shad imitations on a fly rod.”

Bly notes the weir on Palarm Creek at Cadron Settlement Park on the Arkansas River sees a similar migration of white bass where the fish moving from the river are concentrated into a small area.

Greers Ferry a good bet
Another good white bass run occurs in the river arms on the northern section of Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs. The lake is known as the site of the former world-record walleye, and that species also is known to make spawning runs within the Devil’s Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork of the Little Red River. Chasing white bass on this lake usually means having a boat, but one of the most popular destinations can be found at the Johnson Hole Access of the South Fork arm north of Clinton. Boaters can access the area from the lake or can launch at this access, but the creek has many shallow areas between the main lake and where the whites run, making it a better prospect for small boats, kayaks and walk-in access. According to Bly, many anglers will catch their limits in this section of the river during the annual spawning run.

Maumelle mainstay
It seems like every year, one location sees more attention than the rest in the state from white bass anglers. Perhaps it is because of its close proximity to Little Rock, or perhaps it is because the white bass run here is just that good. Either way, the upstream end of Lake Maumelle is so popular with white bass anglers and creek fishermen that the AGFC and Central Arkansas Water worked together to enhance access at the west end of the lake. Sleepy Hollow Access was enhanced with a campground, two boat ramps for boats with motors 25 horsepower and less and a courtesy dock. A parking area also was constructed for a special walk-in only area called Bringle Creek Access. Both of these access points can be found with a few miles of where Arkansas Highway 10 crosses the lake’s upstream end. You’d be hard pressed to find either of the parking lots of these areas empty from March through May each year as anglers tote their favorite spinning rod and curly-tailed grubs to fool the fish as they feed along the shoals before spawning. The stream is part of Lake Maumelle, so no wading is allowed, but there is plenty of shoreline to walk and fish.

Spring White Bass Runs

Decoding Spring White Bass Runs
from The Fishing Wire

FRANKFORT, Ky. – With all of the rain we received early this year, many anglers are wondering when the white bass run will begin this spring.

“We are about there, 60 degrees is the magic number for water temperature,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The redbud blooms are as good an indicator as anything.”

Redbud trees began displaying buds in parts of central Kentucky over the past 10 days and will pop out across the South soon. “We haven’t missed anything yet and the run may arrive on time this year,” Hardin said. “Last year was spotty, starts and stops with the fish as confused as the anglers. We had up and down weather and water levels.”

Reports surfaced last week of a few white bass making a headwater run in the Salt River above Taylorsville Lake, but nighttime temperatures in the 20s this week blunted that movement a bit.

“This week, the night temperatures are increasing, so you won’t get those big cool downs as much now,” Hardin said. “It will be warmer compared to what it was.”

Lakes are dropping dramatically, allaying concerns expressed by anglers about the impact on the white bass runs from the record or near record water levels in some of our major reservoirs in February. Nolin River Lake is now just below summer pool, while Taylorsville Lake is still just above summer pool, but dropping rapidly.

“Knowing when to fish is always a mystery, especially for white bass,” Hardin said. “It’s temperature, light and flow with temperature being the main thing. All you need is that trigger. If you have everything right and you get that flow, it is time to go. If you have the correct water temperature, but no flow, you still should go. You can’t catch them at home.”

Hardin explained white bass runs can occur anywhere from 54 to 68 degrees. Water temperatures in major reservoirs now hover just below 50 degrees. The sunny days and huge warm up expected over the coming weekend and into next week should push water temperatures into the 50s.

“It can happen over the course of one day,” Hardin said. “Someone is going to discover they are running soon.”

The headwaters of Taylorsville Lake and up into the Salt River make one of the best bank fishing spots for white bass in central Kentucky. The best access is via a parking lot on Palmer Road.

It is a matter of walking, casting and then walking a bit more until you find fish. A 1/16-ounce in-line spinner in combinations of silver, white, chartreuse or pink are hard to beat for the Salt River. A pink or chartuese 1/32-ounce feather jig suspended under a bobber and allowed to gently float in the current also scores white bass.

The Nolin River above Bacon Creek boat ramp and upstream to Wheeler’s Mill Road (KY 694) is arguably the best white bass run in the state. The white bass in the Nolin River Lake earned an “excellent” rating in the Fishery Division’s 2019 Kentucky Fishing Forecast.

A white 2 1/2-inch boot-tailed grub or 3-inch swimbait is a deadly lure for Nolin River white bass. Rig them on a 1/8-ounce head for good casting distance. Broad Ford offers good bank access at the bridge over the Nolin River on KY 1214. Boaters using Bacon Creek Ramp to travel upstream must watch the rocky shoals to prevent motor damage.

The headwaters of Green River Lake produce good numbers of white bass up to 14 inches long as does the headwaters of Herrington Lake. Bank anglers may access the Dix River just above the lake at Dix River Voluntary Public Access Area, off Rankin Road via KY 52 between Danville and Lancaster. This area drips with fishing history as Herrington Lake was a white bass mecca in the era after World War II. These waters still produce trophy white bass 14 inches and longer.

Small shad-colored topwater propeller baits make great choices for fishing both Green River Lake headwaters and Dix River.

The Kentucky River below locks and dams produces surprising white bass action. A 3-inch white curly tailed grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead makes a great lure choice for the Kentucky River. Keep probing the water column until you find fish. Lock and Dam 2 at Lockport in Henry County grants excellent bank fishing access for white bass.

All of the ingredients are now here for the white bass runs to commence. Running white bass, once located, provide as much action as any form of fishing.

Remember to buy your fishing license if you have not already. The new license year began March 1.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas
Places To Go
from the Fishing Wire

Some of the best white bass fishing in the spring can be done from the bank and while wading in the upper reaches of tributaries. County road maps available from the Texas Department of Transportation, or “The Roads of Texas” (Shearer Publishing, Fredericksburg, Texas (800)458-3808) are invaluable for locating some of the access points described. Always get permission from the landowner if you cross private land to enter a river or stream. Topographical reservoir maps are often available from controlling authorities or at retail fishing stores. White bass in Texas are currently managed with a statewide 10-inch minimum length and 25-fish daily bag limit.

Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake, an 8,308-acre reservoir located just north of San Antonio, has a strong spring white bass run in the Guadalupe River above the reservoir. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is located in the river, and anglers with small boats can easily access the area without crossing open water. Off State Highway (SH) 306 (past the lake) turn south on Eagle Rock Drive which becomes Tanglewood Trail. Go 2.3 miles, and take the first road on the right past “Chapel in the Cove”. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is at the end of this road. Most anglers head upstream to an area called “the rapids” but other areas can be good and less crowded. Look for high spots in the river channel that concentrate fish as they move upstream. The area around Cranes Mill Park is legendary in the winter and early spring as white bass school up, staged for the spawning run up the river. In late spring check the mouth of major creeks. Main lake fishing can also be quite good. The island near Comal Park and humps near the dam are good during the summer. There are many good boat ramps available. For those without a boat, a fishing pier at Crane’s Mill Park is a good option. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (830)964-3341 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Georgetown
Lake Georgetown is a 1,297-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just west of Georgetown. White bass fishing in the spring can be excellent if water conditions are right at Tejas Camp, which is located on County Road (CR) 258 between Farm to Market (FM) 305 and SH 183. In addition, anglers can access the entire southern and most of the northern shoreline of Lake Georgetown from Tejas Camp via marked trails. Three public boat ramps are available on the main lake as well. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)863-3016 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Granger Lake
Granger Lake is a 4,009-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just east of Granger. A good place to access the upper river for spawning white bass in the spring is Parking Lot 7. From SH 95, go east about 1.5 miles on county road 347 until it T’s, then turn right. No ramp is provided, but small portable boats can be launched. Shore anglers can also access the river at a pull-off on county road 347 about ¾ mile east of SH 95. Be careful, because the bank is steep. Willis Creek is another option for anglers and can be accessed at two locations. Head east on FM 971 from SH 95 at the town of Granger. Take CR 348 south, to Parking Lot 4, which is by the bridge over Willis Creek. The second location is Willis Creek Park, which provides full-service camping, shore angling, and a boat ramp year-round. Take CR 346 east from SH 95 at the sign for the park and follow the signs. Four other public boat ramps are available on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)859-2668 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Limestone
Lake Limestone, located 50 miles east of Waco between SH 164 and SH 7, is a 13,860-acre impoundment of the Navasota River. It provides cooling water for the Houston Power and Light generating plant. In addition to opportunities for schooling white bass throughout most of the year, white bass migrating up the Navasota River to spawn are especially vulnerable in the spring. There are four public boat ramps on the main lake. For more information, contact the Brazos River Authority at (903)529-2141 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Lyndon B. Johnson
Lake LBJ, located near the town of Granite Shoals, is a 6,449-acre impoundment of the Llano and Colorado Rivers. Both rivers can be accessed from two fee boat ramps in the city of Kingsland. Riverbend Marine and Storage ramp is accessed via Harris Loop, directly across from the Llanorado Lodge just west of the CR 1431 bridge crossing. The Kingsland Lions Club also maintains a ramp. Take Euel Moore Drive off of CR 1431 (there is a sign advertising the ramp at the turn-off). Go about ½ mile and take a left on Williams street. This road ends at the ramp. The Llano River directly above Kingsland is popular with fly anglers targeting white bass. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Somerville
Lake Somerville is an 11,456-acre impoundment of Yegua Creek located about 25 miles southwest of Bryan/College Station. It provides outstanding white and hybrid striped bass action, particularly in the spring. Beginning in early to mid-February, both species migrate up reservoir tributaries, primarily Yegua Creek. The lower reaches of Yegua Creek can be accessed by boat from the main lake, but two public areas provide access for the shore angler. Newman Bottom is reached from SH 21 at Dime Box by taking FM 141 south. Turn left on FM 1697, then left on CR 125 to CR 140. Follow the signs on CR 140 to a self-pay, day use only, parking area. Irvin Bridge can be accessed by following the same directions to get on FM 1697, and then turn left on CR 124 to a primitive parking area on Yegua Creek. During the summer months, numerous “humps” and main-lake structure provide hot-spots for white and hybrid striped bass anglers. For those limited to fishing from shore, Welch Park on the main lake provides good opportunities for bank and wade fishing. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (979)596-1622 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (979)822-5067.

Lake Travis
Lake Travis is an 18,622-acre impoundment of the Colorado and Pedernales Rivers located just west of Austin. Traditionally, strong white bass runs have occurred on the Pedernales River. Travis County Milton Reimer’s Park provides bank, boat, and wade fishing opportunities to the public. The park is located on Hamilton Pool Road (CR 3238), about 11.5 miles west of the intersection of Hamilton Pool road and SH 71 and 1.3 miles east of the low-water bridge over the Pedernales River. Anglers should contact Travis County Parks for more information on this park (512-854-7275). The area near Pace Bend Park, where the Pedernales River enters the lake, is always a good bet for early season deep water jigging spoon fishing. The area upstream from The Narrows boat ramp, located on the upper reaches of the reservoir, as well as the area directly below the Lake Marble Falls dam can be very good during the spring, if there is adequate water. This area should be boated with caution especially if the reservoir is below normal pool. The Narrows boat ramp is located west of Austin, near the town of Spicewood on County Road 411. Some of the bigger creeks in the lake also have good white bass fishing. These include Sandy, Cypress and Cow creeks. The main body of Lake Travis is good during the winter for fishing lighted boat docks. At least nine public boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Waco
Lake Waco is a 7,173-acre impoundment of the Bosque River located in the city of Waco. White bass migrate up the North, South, and Middle Bosque Rivers in the spring, resulting in dense concentrations and excellent opportunities for anglers. Six boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)756-5359, or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Whitney
Lake Whitney is a 22,180-acre impoundment of the Brazos River located approximately midway between the cities of Fort Worth and Waco. White bass run up the Brazos and Nolan rivers, with best angler catches below sand and gravel bars and along sandy shorelines. Sixteen public ramps provide access on the main lake. A popular spot for white bass anglers is Kimbell Bend Park, which has a 2-lane boat ramp and is located just off of SH 174. For more information, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)694-3189 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254) 666-5190.

Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is a 22,211 acre reservoir located in Burnet and Llano Counties near the town of Burnet. It is the uppermost reservoir in the Highland Lakes Chain and has excellent white bass and striped bass populations. The Colorado River above the lake has one of the strongest white bass runs in Central Texas. For wade or bank fishing Colorado Bend State Park, near the town of Bend, is a great place to try your luck when water conditions are right. This portion of the Colorado River is popular with fly anglers. Bend is located about 20 miles out of Lampasas on SH 580. Call the park (325-628-3240) to check on conditions before going. Several private fishing camps in the Bend area also have bank access. Signs in the town of Bend will direct you to the camps. The area from Silver Creek (also called Beaver Creek) to the town of Tow is an excellent choice from winter to late spring. Buchanan has lots of main lake structure to try during the summer months. Public and private boat ramps are located on the lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

The authors wish to thank Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries employees Floyd Teat and Mark Webb for contributing to this report.

Striped Bass

The Scoop on Striped Bass

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn, U.S.C.G.
from the Fishing Wire

Fishing a bridge

Fishing a bridge

John Miller of Farmville, Va., tries his luck at striped bass fishing in the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Va., under the Hampton Boulevard Bridge. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn)

A cluster of small boats gather toward the end of an ebb tide on a dreary November evening in Norfolk, Virginia. Fishermen, clad in rain slickers, cast their lines toward pilings and retrieve them in silence. There’s no chatter among them – an entire day spent on the water exhausted their conversations. They’re focused on one thing – their target species, the Atlantic striped bass, though nobody’s landed one today. Suddenly, the song of a reel zings out over the rushing water as a striper is hooked and begins what might be the fight for its life. “Hooked up!” exclaims an angler, finally breaking the silence with words they all yearn to shout. The fish peels just enough line to make a beeline for a piling, wrapping the monofilament against the barnacles plastered to it like living razor blades. The line snaps, leaving the fisherman to grieve in the gloomy dusk.

For anglers across the U.S., the challenge of locating and landing stripers is what keeps them coming back for more.

“Striped bass are an elusive fish,” said Dwight Ocheltree, a striper fishing enthusiast and employee at Greg’s Bait Shack in Portsmouth, Virginia. His statement applies in more ways than one.

Striper fishermen know finding these fish isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s a patience game of waiting for them to show up or to start feeding. Then there’s the challenge of landing one after it’s been hooked.

“Stripers love structure,” said Ocheltree. “Bridges, pilings – places they can stay out of sight and ambush their prey. Fishing around structure takes skill that comes with experience. The first thing a hooked striper will do is try to retreat behind structure, and that means breaking the line if you aren’t prepared.”

Talking about fishing

Talking about fishing

According to Ocheltree, once a fisherman lands a striper for the first time, it’s then he or she who will be hooked.

“Once you land one, you’ll be back for more,” he said. “If you’ve been trying but aren’t catching any, keep at it. Keep plugging. You’re one cast away from the best day of your life!” Anglers hoping to catch “the big one” are drawn to waters off the Mid-Atlantic coast, where laws aimed at protecting the species are different that those close to shore.

Coast Guardsmen, charged with protecting living marine resources, enforce an important federal law designed to protect the Atlantic striped bass population.

“The Atlantic striped bass is managed through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, an interstate organization designed to ensure states along the eastern seaboard manage their shared fishery resources through cooperative stewardship,” said Patricia Bennett, deputy enforcement chief for the 5th Coast Guard District in Portsmouth. “It is illegal to possess or target the Atlantic striped bass in federal waters, which begin three miles from shore. In state waters – waters less than three miles from the coast – each state has its own laws designed to protect stripers. Even though the Coast Guard does not enforce those state laws, if we find a violation at the state level, we may notify state authorities.”

“The three-mile line is clearly marked on nautical charts,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Stephen Atchley, captain aboard Coast Guard Cutter Cochito out of Portsmouth. “With all the modern navigation equipment, it is every mariners responsibility to know where they are when they are on the water. That means knowing if you’re fishing in state or federal waters.”

“I’m a fisherman myself,” said Atchley. “I’ve fished my entire life. I want there to be fish for my family and for future generations.”

While striped bass fishermen are responsible for understanding and following both state and federal regulations, the majority of these anglers will never venture near the three mile mark, fishing closer to shore in rivers and bays.

“Some people think you need a boat to catch stripers,” said Ocheltree. “You don’t. You can catch striped bass from shore. In fact, that’s how many people prefer to fish them.”

One particular characteristic of the species helps make it the preferred target for so many. Stripers are anadromous – they’re born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to spawn. This means anglers can catch them in rivers that run through cities – they’re a popular urban game fish. Their ability to acclimate and survive in entirely freshwater ecosystems led humans to introduce the species to completely landlocked lakes and ponds. Striped bass can be found throughout the country and are among the most targeted of all game fish.

November usually means striper season arrived here in the Mid-Atlantic. As water temperatures begin to decline, the action should increase. “If you want to catch a striper, you just have to go out and do it,” said Ocheltree. “Put in your time. Talk to other fishermen. Listen to the people at bait shops and at the boat ramps. Every year I learn something new from someone different.”

Catching Hybrids While Trying To Catch Bass At West Point

If someone told me the fishing would be worse at West Point for the Flint River tournament last Sunday than it had been two weeks before in the Sportsman Club tournament I would not have believed them. I could not believe it would get harder to catch a bass, but it was.

In eight hot hours of casting 13 members and guests of the club brought in nine keeper bass weighing about 15 pounds. There were no limits and eight people didn’t catch a keeper. Only four of the bass were largemouth.

Niles Murray had two nice largemouth weighing 7.32 pounds for first and the one that weighed 5.82 pounds was big fish. My four, three spots and one largemouth, weighing 4.47 pounds was second, Jack Ridgeway, Niles partner, had one largemouth weighing 3.46 pounds for third and Chuck Croft had a spot weighing 1.43 pounds for fourth. My partner Jordan McDonald had a spot weighing .95 pounds for fifth and that was it!

Jordan and I started on a bank where I have caught fish before, hoping a bass would be feeding at daylight. We tried a variety of baits and Jordan got one hit on a topwater plug but missed it. After about 45 minutes as we worked out to a hump off that bank Jordan spotted schooling fish hitting on top across the creek.

I told him they looked like hybrids and, based on where they were feeding over deep water, I was sure they were. But we went over there and sure enough Jordan caught several hybrids on a jerkbait and I missed a few on a topwater plug that was too big for them to eat. Then Jordan hooked a strong fish that fought for a long time before pulling off.

We tried some more humps near deep water without a bite. Then we went to the point where I had caught two good largemouth two weeks before. The baitfish were still there and fish were under them, just like before, and we got some bites, but all we caught was a six inch spot and a warmouth.

About 9:30 we went to a roadbed and fished it hard and caught a couple of short spots on jig head worms.
Right at 11:00 I caught a 13 inch spot and then landed a second one the same size in the very next cast. Although we stayed there for over an hour we didn’t get another bite.

Just after noon we went to another point where I had caught a spot two weeks before and I saw baitfish with fish holding under them in 18 feet of water. I got a hit on my drop shot worm under them and landed a keeper largemouth. As soon as I put it in the livewell I dropped my bait to the bottom, felt a fish start swimming with it, set the hook and broke my line.

I have no idea why it broke. Although I was using only eight pound test line the first fish had pulled drag without breaking it. On the second fish my line popped with almost no pressure. I may have nicked it while unhooking the first fish.

At 1:00, with an hour left to fish, we ran to a brush pile in deep water where we had seen fish two weeks before but had not been able to catch anything. We rode over it and saw a lot of fish holding on it on the depthfinder.

I put out a marker and as soon as Jordan’s dropshot hit bottom he caught his keeper. While he was putting it in the livewell I dropped my bait down and caught my fourth keeper. Although we stayed there until we had to go in at 2:00 we did not get another bite. That was frustrating because we could see the fish holding around the brush but they would not bite.

I can’t recommend a bass fishing trip to West Point right now, but if you want to catch some hybrids it would be a good choice. The big school we saw was in the mouth of Turner Creek, just behind the island in the mouth of it.

Be there at first light and they will hit small topwater plugs, jerk baits, spoons and crankbaits. After the sun gets up and they quit schooling on top they will suspend over the channel and you can jig for them with spoons or bucktails, or catch them on live bait. You should be able to spot them on a depthfinder holding about 20 feet deep.

Hybrids fight hard and most of them will be fairly small, around two pounds. But the one Jordan lost was much bigger and you will have some of them, too. I don’t eat many hybrids since they taste so strong, but some folks like them fried.

When I do cook them I put filets from a three or four pounder in a pan, cover them with bacon strips and onion rings and bake them for about 45 minutes. I do like them cooked that way. The bacon and onions give them a good flavor and takes the strong fishy taste out of them.

How Can I Catch White Bass?

A Cast to the Other Bass white bass

Overlooked and underappreciated, white bass are a blast

By Mitch Eeagan

You’d be hard-pressed to find an avid angler who doesn’t recognize bass as the most sought-after sport fish in North America. We all have our favorite fish, but statistics prove that bass are #1.

Overlooked and underappreciated, however, is a bass of a different color. Its DNA differs from the most popular, yet the species roams a majority of waterways throughout the lands. I’m talkin’ white bass…. And they are a blast to catch.

Mae Edlund and White Bass

Mae Edlund and White Bass

Eight-year-old Mae Edlund is all smiles during the Mississippi River white bass blitz! An H20 Precision Jig and minnow or B Fish N Tackle Pulse-R is like candy to these voracious pelagics!

White bass fans look forward to massive spring spawning runs in rivers that connect to the large natural lakes and reservoirs the fish call home during the rest of the year. But after the run, most anglers set their sights on other species.

So why are they summer’s Rodney Dangerfield, earning such little respect?

It can’t be their unwillingness to whack a vibrating or flashing lure. The fact is, white bass have voracious appetites, and once schools are located, the catching comes quite easy.

It’s certainly not what they lack during battle. White bass zig-zag and power-dive straight for the fathoms. And, by far, it’s not their poor table fare. On the contrary, white bass make for good eats if you ice ‘em right away or keep them in a well-aerated livewell – and then remove all the red-colored flesh when filleted.

More than likely, it’s simply because they aren’t easy to find come summertime. Just like their saltwater cousins, the striped bass, white bass turn pelagic. They don’t dwell near bottom or hug shoreline structure, making them more difficult to find. Instead, white bass rove high in the water column and create havoc with pods of nomadic baitfish.

Or maybe they’re simply not trendy enough to target. But that’s about to change.

When the lovin’ is over

Enter ardent angler Jim Edlund, who is far from troubled to speak in favor of targeting white bass. The Minnesota-based outdoor writer says he fishes white bass every chance he gets, and now coaches his daughters on how to catch them year-round; even well after the massive spawning migrations have ended.

“Springtime is primetime, typically when water temps are in that 50 to 60 degree range. Fish a day or two before, on, or immediate after a full moon and you’re really rocking. That’s when the spawn is in full-swing. It’s the perfect bite to get kids really excited about fishing. Not surprising, my kids are big fans of white bass,” says Edlund

Although spring can be easy pickings, Edlund says good electronics can help you find white bass the rest of the year.

“Despite all the pretty pictures of bridges and sunken boats you see in the advertising, what Side Imaging really does is minimize the amount of time it takes to find fish,” says Edlund. “I simply idle around river points, sandbars, feeder creeks and watch for white splotches of bait and fish on my SI screen. Once I see life, I scroll the cursor over the spot and boom, there’s the waypoint on my LakeMaster map. This lets me back off and idle into the spot from upwind with my Minn Kota and get the kids casting without spooking them.”

A fan of river fishing from a small, aluminum Lund that’s taken years of abuse, Edlund calls his system “high-tech, old-school.”

“To think that a guy can get Side Imaging, Down Imaging, mapping and 2D sonar for under $500 is awesome. Fishing with the Humminbird Helix SI GPS is like drinking Don Perignon on a Boone’s Farm budget.”

As Edlund nears the waypoints he marked on Side Imaging, he switches to split-screen view of 2D sonar and LakeMaster map, noting the depth marks start appearing, more than likely the same depth white bass will move into if the wind kicks up and waves roll over sunken islands or points adjacent to the deeper water.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped jigging walleyes on the Mississippi River to chase a school of white bass. I have buddies who just shake their heads. Then out comes the casting stick for as long as the whities will play along.

“Same goes for North Dakota’s Devils Lake. Take a break from walleyes and survey a few windswept shorelines with Side Imaging until we find fish; doesn’t take long. And they’re giants out there. They’re just too much fun to be ignored, especially with kids in the boat. My new plan is throwing Clousers at ‘em with a 4 or 5 weight fly rod. That should be a hoot!”

Overall, once white bass have spawned, they move out into the main lake and can be found in areas with a turbid layer over ultra-clear water. In reservoirs, both bait and bass are often found along the old river and creek channels. In natural lakes, white bass tend to hover over main-lake flats. It’s in these areas you may see baitfish leaping for their lives, indicating there are white bass below attacking the clan.

“Although electronics are great, always pay attention to what’s going on around you, like busting bait and surfacing fish. And watch where the birds are feeding on the water,” says Edlund.

Once it’s determined the bass are at the surface or just below, it’s time to cast into the chaos.

Fin-Wing Lure

Fin-Wing Lure

Fluttered deep or burned across the surface, the Fin-Wing is a nemesis to white bass

Gearing up

Lures and gear should be beefed up from what one might expect when catching fish that range from 1-4 pounds. Because white bass feed on shad and shiners, lures that match the size of the baitfish are best. Vibration and flash are key as well.

Soft jerkbaits with large paddle tails, such as 3.5-inch Castaic Jerky J Swim Series and Custom Jigs & Spins 3.25-inch Pulse-R Paddle Tail, rigged onto a jig head with a narrow shape like an H20 Precision Jig, or the Rapala Ultra-Light Rippin’ Rap are some of Edlund’s favorite baits to cast. He throws them with 10-pound-test superline and an 8-pound-test fluorocarbon leader on a fast-action medium-power St. Croix AVID-X spinning rod.

“I could use lighter gear, but I don’t like to baby ‘em. Plus, it’s a numbers thing; I want to boat the fish without any unnecessary ballet and get right back out to hot fish. Plus, these same river spots can produce some big ‘eyes, smallies, cats … when there’s a lot of bait getting slashed, your next fish could be anything,” says Edlund

Spinners are also a great choice for whities, with number-3 and -4 Mepps Aglia in-line spinners mainstays. Spoons with a wide wobble that can be fished both fast and slow and can be stopped and fluttered on the fall, such as a size-1 Fin-Wing or Custom Jigs & Spins Pro Series Slender Spoon, work wonders, too.

Cast, retrieve, repeat

Overlooked and underappreciated? That’s the white bass. Once located high in the water column, catching them is straightforward – just cast, retrieve and repeat. Once you land a few you’ll realize just why white bass should rank right up there with black and brown bass.

Jason Halfen with White Bass

Jason Halfen with White Bass

Jason Halfen with a chunky and spunky white bass snared on a Fin-Wing

Mitch Eeagan is a writer that lives off the land and water, who resides in the heart of the mosquito-filled cedar swamps of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

How Can I Get Ready for Spring Stripers?

Yamaha Tips: Get Ready for Spring Stripers
from The Fishing Wire

Use soft  natural baits

Use soft natural baits

Big stripers like this one may prefer soft natural baits early in the season, especially in murky water.

It’s been a brutal winter for most of the Mid-Atlantic States, with record low temperatures and an amazing amount of precipitation in the form of snow, sleet and freezing rain. Just what does that mean for spring striper fishing? If past experience is any indicator, fishing might get off to a slightly later start. The water will be a bit colder due to the spring snow melt, resulting in a rush of cold water pouring into the bays where the first bass of the year are usually encountered. All that extra fresh water will probably be carrying more silt, which could hinder water clarity and affect feeding preferences, but that can be accounted for with the right techniques.

A look back in our fishing log books reveals that striped bass fishing after cold winters has been as good if not better than during mild years. So if you haven’t gotten to it already, you better start getting the boat and tackle ready.

Extreme cold water temperatures in rivers and estuaries where small-to-midsize stripers reside can put them in near hibernation throughout much of the winter. When the first hints of spring make an appearance—the sun gets a little higher in the sky, the days get a little longer, air temperatures start to rise—the bass stir and start to get hungry. If you’re willing to brave the weather and get on the water, chances are you’ll be rewarded with some decent fishing action. But are you prepared? Have you gone through the spring commissioning process with your boat, outboard and trailer? Have you serviced your reels and filled them with fresh line? Do you have the gear you’ll need for early season tactics in your tackle box? If not, you have some catching up to do.

The following two techniques can be effective under the spring conditions you will probably encounter when fishing for stripers in the coming weeks, and we will follow those up with some tips on where you should look for them.

Use clams for spring stripers

Use clams for spring stripers

Clams and other natural offerings fished on a circle hook can be just the ticket to turn early spring stripers on.

One of the best ways to coax bass out of cold water is fishing with soft, natural baits like sandworms and fresh clams. This is especially true when the run-off from winter snows and spring rains keep bay temperatures cold and hamper water clarity. When this happens, bass will rely more on scavenging by using their sense of smell rather than on their ability to seek out baitfish visually. When striper metabolism is sluggish, soft baits are easier to digest, making them preferable when the water is colder. If the water temps are below 50 degrees or water clarity is poor, break out the clams, sandworms or bloodworms and go fishing.

These baits are fished on or very near the bottom, and light spinning or baitcasting outfits filled with 10- to 15-pound test line are more than ample tackle. The preferred bottom rig is a simple fish finder type, with a light bank sinker mated to a 24-inch fluorocarbon leader armed with a 4/0 or larger circle hook. Using circle hooks is important because stripers feeding on soft baits are likely to swallow the hook in the time it takes for you to realize they are mouthing the bait. Circle hooks almost always set in the corner of a fish’s mouth, making unhooking and releasing them easier for you with less potential to harm the fish. That reduces release mortality of young fish or any fish you catch over the bag limit. If you’re using worms, the addition of a small float between the hook and the sinker will help keep the bait off the bottom and attract more bites. Clams give off more scent and are easier for bass to locate and gulp down lying on the bottom. When clam fishing, bring along a chum basket and fill it with crushed clams, then suspend it on the bottom under the boat to disperse even more scent to attract bass from further away.

Once water temperatures have risen above 50 degrees and river herring and alewives start their move from the ocean into bays (and eventually into rivers and streams to spawn), try switching over to trolling with diving plugs. Several lure companies offer swimming plugs with long diving lips rated to run from 15 to 30 feet down. They are excellent lures for early season stripers and a lot of fun to use because they do not require heavy rods and reels with special line to get them deep and make them work.

Trolling these plugs can be done on a variety of light conventional rod and reel combinations, but be sure they are loaded with 30- to 50-pound test braided line. The thin braid allows these plugs to dive to their rated depth. Add a six-foot fluorocarbon leader and a snap for quick changing lures, and fish them from outrodder-type rod holders to keep them spread apart behind the boat. Be sure to keep your eyes on the depthfinder to locate schools of baitfish, and to watch for stripers. That way you can be sure you’re fishing in the right places and using plugs that are running at the depth the fish are holding. You should have plugs in a range of colors that run at a variety of depths.

Use light tackle

Use light tackle

Light tackle is adequate to handle even big stripers like this one when fishing natural bait.

If you are not familiar with where to hunt for early season stripers, here are a few tips that might help. Review charts of the estuary you’re planning to fish, and look for areas adjacent to where feeder streams and rivers enter the bay. Then look for areas of flats along channel edges, especially flats that get exposed to the most sun during the days as they will warm faster, and warmer is better this time of year. In a lot of cases, flats along shorelines with southern exposure will fit the bill because the sun is still in the southern sky and will strike those flats with the most direct light. You can find stripers in water depths from a few feet out to edges of channel drop offs in 20 to 30 feet.

Bottom fishing with soft baits will often be best on flats near drop offs. Anchor the boat up current of the drop, and set out a chum pot with clams or just cast your bait behind the boat and let the fish come to you. Time your fishing to coincide with the top of the incoming and first few hours of the outgoing tide, when bass will be most active. This way the current carries the scent of your baits to deeper water, and the fish will be working into the current for just that reason. Pay attention to tides when trolling with plugs, too. High tide stages will produce the most bites.

With spring upon us (even if it might not feel like it quite yet), it’s time to put down the winter projects, get the boat and gear loaded, and go fishing. The stripers are hungry and waiting, and fishing for them is a great way to shake off the bad case of cabin fever you’ve been suffering from this winter.

March Madness and Fishing

March Madness is here, but that means something totally different for fishermen. To us it means crappie are in the shallows spawning, bass are moving shallow and are much more active and being on the water can be downright comfortable after the miserable cold winter. And catching will be good for at least the next two months.

You can fill your limit of 30 crappie quickly most days by dabbling a minnow or jig around shoreline bushes or other wood cover. They can also be caught by trolling shallow stump flats and drop-offs. This is a great time to fill your freezer with these good tasting fish.

Bass are about as easy to catch as they get. You can catch them on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, worms and jigs. Go about half way back in a cove or small creek and start casting to any wood or rock cover in fairly shallow water and you will catch fish.

Stripers and hybrids are feeding better, too. They start running up rivers in area lakes and also congregate near the dam. They can be caught by trolling or jigging spoons or jigs over deep water, and you can often find gulls diving on fish feeding on or near the surface.

The fishing reports from Georgia lakes I post on my site each week reflect this good fishing. All say fishing is good right now, and they offer a variety of tips on what to fish on that specific lake, where to fish and what to expect. They will say the fishing is good until at least early June.

And my favorite way to fish is about to get right. I love to cast a topwater plug, and as soon as the water temperature hits 55 degrees I will start using a popper or buzzbait. It will be even better when the temperature goes above 60 degrees, but you may be surprised at the strikes you can get when it is still a little colder.

Yesterday the Flint River and Spalding County clubs had our youth/buddy tournament at Jackson and today the Sportsman Club is fishing our March tournament at Oconee. Then on Thursday I go to West Point for three days of practice and the FLW Top Six on the following Monday and Tuesday. I will miss fishing only three days out of 11 so I will get in almost enough time on the water.

Both the Flint River Bass Club and the Spalding County Sportsman Club are sending six man teams to the tournament so 12 of us will be there competing for individual and team prizes. I really enjoy fishing the Top Six each year and hope this is a good one.

Can I Catch Stripers In Cold Water?

Stripers–Cold Water Angling Option

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

If you’re brave enough to get out on the water anywhere north of Florida this month, you may have a bit of Inuit in your ancestry–or perhaps you fished from an ice shanty.

Stripers in cold water

Stripers in cold water

These landlocked stripers were caught next to bridge pilings in Lewis Smith Lake, an impoundment in North Alabama, an swimbaits. (Frank Sargeant photo)

Cold weather not only makes it almost impossible to endure sitting in a bass boat, it shocks the fish into a state that resembles suspended animation; they simply hang in the water near bottom, nose down, moving only enough to stay upright. They’ll come back to some semblance of normalcy after a few days of more temperate weather–but it will be the end of February before bassing returns to normal, even in Mid-South states like Tennessee and the Carolinas.

However, there are some species less affected by the cold. Top among them is striped bass, which actually thrive on cold water, and these may be the best target for the next month in many lakes around the country.

Stripers feed almost entirely on shad in open water and can be tough to find, but fortunately many lakes in winter have some “bird dogs” that make it easier. Sea gulls that winter from the Mason-Dixon Line southward keep a sharp eye out for shad being driven to the surface by stripers, and anywhere you see a flock of gulls diving–or even sitting on the water–it’s likely there are stripers below.

Striped bass are native to the TVA lakes that stretch across Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky, but numbers were strongest when they were heavily stocked years ago. Now, most found here are native-spawned; the long flow-way of the TVA rivers allows the eggs to hatch in years when there’s good rain. Tennessee is also continuing to stock upstream TVA lakes, and some of these fish, as well as their eggs, arrive in North Alabama’s TVA lakes as a result.

Striper caught in cold water

Striper caught in cold water

Stripers can sometimes be located on sonar in winter hanging close to bait schools: Lower a heavy jig down to them and this can be the result. (Frank Sargeant photo)

Stripers, as distinguished from white bass, have a longer and more streamlined body shape, and grow to much larger sizes–over 50 pounds on occasion, and the world record for the landlocked strain, caught from the Black Warrior River last February, is a stunning 69 pounds, 9 ounces! Caught by James Bramlett, that 45.5 inch fish is unlikely ever to be bested; it appears to have lived in the warm water outflow of the Gorgas Steam Plant where it was able to stuff itself on swarms of shad and other baitfish prowling there to keep warm. It was built like a basketball with fins.

Stripers of 15 to 20 pounds are not that uncommon, and the average size is 7 to 10 pounds, big enough to give most freshwater anglers the fight of their lives.

Fishing live shad or shad-type lures under the sea gulls is one of the best ways to locate these fish in winter. You may have to visit several gull flocks before you find one with active stripers below, but running main channels near dams or in larger bays will eventually put you on the fish. A check of the sonar can confirm bait and stripers below–these large fish have a very obvious signature on the screen.

Stripers are great eating if cleaned properly, far better than largemouths, which most conservation-minded anglers release anyway these days.

Stripers have snow-white flesh that’s much like that of a saltwater grouper–just peel away the skin, cut out the red line and the rib cage and the boneless fillet is ready to be grilled, baked or broiled.

(A side-note–the largest stripers have higher concentrations of mercury than recommended for consumption, as with most long-lived fish. Those under 10 pounds have no issues in most lakes, however.)