The Striped Bass fishery along the east coast has rebounded
over the years. Pollution and commercial
fishing once caused a dramatic decrease in the total number of spawning fish
entering the fresh water river systems up and down the eastern seaboard.
Conservation efforts have allowed this fishery to explode.
Our local Delaware River is listed as one of the largest
spawning grounds on the east coast.
Every spring, cow females must enter fresh water river systems to
spawn. Stripers have been known to
release eggs as far north as Easton, Pennsylvania. However, much of the spawning process occurs
in the tidal sections of Trenton and Philadelphia. Female Stripers will release eggs into the
current. As the eggs flow freely
downriver, the males finish the process.
It is essential for stripers to reproduce in a clean, freshwater
environment. Pollution, high water and
muddy water can decrease chances for a successful reproduction.
The peak of the Striper run normally occurs during late
April and early May. However, good
numbers of large fish can be caught earlier as buck shad and herring run the
river to spawn. These alternate fish
runs provide the Striped Bass with an abundant food source. The Striper's aggressive nature drives them
to constantly eat. Plus, they need
nutrients, as they will expend energy during the spawning process..................
During the spring Striper run, anglers need to understand
that a portion of the river has a closed season. Until June 1, any striper caught below the
Trenton Falls must be released. Stripers
caught above Trenton Falls may be kept if they are over 28 inches. These laws are subject to change over the
winter so please check for any updated information.
Anglers need to be aware that fish in the twenty and thirty
pound class are commonly boated. For
this very reason, proper equipment is essential. Below, you will find a helpful breakdown of
equipment and gear.
Stripers are very aggressive and powerful. They are known for making long hard runs that
can push fishing gear to their limits. I
firmly believe that big fish will find defects in your equipment. Choosing the proper equipment will keep you
fishing rather than fixing.
First, start with a Shimano Baitrunner 3500. This reel offers adequate space for 17 pound
test line. This becomes critical when
fish need to be chased downriver. If you
choose a bait-casting reel, look for one with a clicker drag system such as a
Tekota 500 or Torium 14. Second, look at
either a muskie style rod such as a Compre or a Trevala 7'ML jigging rod by
Shimano. Since circle hooks are required
by law, the parabolic action of the Trevala allows the rod to load evenly,
setting the hook everytime.
Live bait seems to be the most preferred tactic for
stripers. Eels can be purchased at local
tackle shops. Look for 6-9" eels and
hook the eels through the eyes. This
will alleviate eels from diving into the rocks.
Handling eels can be a pain. I
like to chill several eels on ice. Once their metabolism drops, I place them in
sand or saw dust. This allows for easy
handling. Bloodworms prove to be good
baits in March and April as well.
Anglers should ball the worms on the hook. Drop the worms to the bottom on a standard
top and bottom rig used for flounder fishing.
Herring is another choice and can be caught rather easily. Herring fishermen like to anchor along current
seams and in the channel. Outfit a bass
rod with 1-3 oz weight according to river conditions. Above the weight, attach 3-5 small gold hooks
in size 10 or 12. Drop the rig to the
bottom and jig until you feel them hit.
Simply, reel the herring to the surface and place them in your live
well. Be certain to keep fresh water
flowing into the live well as Herring die very quickly.
Trolling the river for Stripers is
rarely seen. Dipsy divers, planer boards and downriggers
aid in keeping lures in the strike zone.
I will troll lures behind these devices at speeds of 1.8 mph to
3mph. Target flats and narrow channels
that provide steep drop-offs. Stripers
relate to these forms of structure and are easily trolled. I run the
same lures that I cast. Vary your depths and length behind each
device till a fish hits. Then you will
begin to key in on what they are looking for and at which depth.
Stripers feed heavily on blue back herring as they migrate
upriver. This means that Stripers will
be close to the Herring. Select fishing
spots where schools of herring stack.
Eddy currents, flats, drop-offs, bridge pilings and boulders are prime
hotspots. However, everyone else knows
that as well. Look for alternative spots
such as long deep pools, gravel areas, shade during heat waves and
whitewater. Lately, Tinicum Island,
Raccoon Creek, Rancocas Creek and Trenton have been hotspots for big fish.
Striped Bass will remain in the Delaware all summer. The Easton, Pennsylvania region continually
sees large fish in the 40-pound class caught every summer. Boating large stripers during the summer heat
can be dangerous to the fish. Extra time
is needed to revive these babies. As
anglers head north towards the New York border, Striped Bass can be
caught. However, numbers of fish and
size of fish are reduced.
Try these techniques this spring and I assure you that more
Stripers will land in your boat. Keep
your bait fresh and always in the strike zone for maximum success. Release the big females for future success
and good luck!
Read The Discussion here on Delaware River Stiped Bass Fishing