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Find your white and striped bass

Knowing where to look for white and stripped bass is a key point to actually catching them.
White and striped bass are warm water fish; they prefer temperatures from the mid 60s to mid 70s. Do not confuse them with largemouth bass these fish are a completely different species of fish. White bass are also known as sand or sliver bass and spend most of their time in fresh water. Striped bass are known as rock-fish and will spend most of their life at sea only coming into fresh water to spawn. White bass thrive in big-river systems including connecting lakes. Striped bass are usually located in large reservoirs with open water forage like shad. Here are some prime locations for finding these fish.

In man-made lakes

Early spring through spawning season:
• Tailwaters of upstream dams
• Creek arms at the upper end of the lake especially those with significant flow.

Late spring through mid-fall:
• Edges of shallow flats
• Mouths of major creek arms
• Suspended over the old river channel and creek channels or in the submerged timber along the edges.
• Edges of shallow man-made lake points
• Narrows between man-made lake basins.

Late fall and winter:
• Coves between main-lakes points
• Junction of creek channel and old river channel
• Deep holes in the new river at the lower end of the lake only in the late fall to early winter.
• Deep holes in the old river channel at the upper end of the lake only in the late winter.
• Deep main lake points, especially those at the upper end of the lake.

In rivers

Early spring through spawning season:
• Large backwaters that warm earlier than the main river
• Tailwaters of upstream dams
• Mouths of large tributaries

Late spring through to mid-fall:
• Sandy flats around the mouths of tributaries
• Pools with rocky feeding riffle just upstream
• Deep riprap banks along outside bends
• Slots and washouts below boulder and other large objects that break the current
• Eddies created by sharp turns in the river
• Eddies created by points projecting into the river

Late fall and winter:
• Deepest pools in the river
• Holes along outside bends
• Deep washouts in the tailwaters of upstream dams.

If you keep this information handy you are going to have an upper edge over every other fisher on the water. Knowing where to look for fish before breaking out the fish finder is the difference between an average fisher and an expert fisher.

Know your white and striped bass

Striped and white bass fall into the temperate bass family and are among some of the most aggressive feeders. Do not get them confused with largemouth or smallmouth bass, these are completely different fish. In fact white and striped bass are more related to perch than they are related to large and smallmouth bass
White and striped bass will offer some of the fastest fishing and will instantly strike any lure cast into their vicinity. These fish are constantly on the move though and will constantly move upriver until some obstruction gets in their way.
White bass are often called silver or sand bass and are generally seen in freshwater. They usually swim in the big rivers and lakes connecting to them as well as in reservoirs. White bass have silvery sides with unbroken black stripes above the lateral line. They also carry irregular and faint stripes below the lateral line that usually stop short at the tail of the fish. They also have a single patch of teeth at the base of the tongue.
Striped bass are often called rock fish or stripers and are native to the Atlantic coastal waters of North America. They spend most of their time at sea and travel into fresh water only to spawn. Stripers have silvery sides with usually about eight horizontal unbroken black stripes that extend from cheek to tail. Their body is longer than the white bass and there are two patches of teeth on the tongue at the base rather than one. Striped bass are generally larger as well.
Hybrids of white and striped bass are produced by crossing a male white bass with a female striper. These hybrids are called wipers and have silvery sides with dark stripes broken above and below the lateral line. They are somewhere in between the white and striped bass in body length and are infertile fish meaning that they have to be stocked rather than spawned.
White and striped bass have similar tolerances and lifestyles. Both are difficult to find and are known for spending a good deal of their lives chasing baitfish in open water. White and striped bass are warm water fish, preferring water temperatures from the mid 60s to the mid 70sm migrating up rivers and streams to spawn when the water temperature reaches about 58º F. Unlike other species of fish, white and striped bass make no attempt to guard the eggs the female drops during spawning season.
White bass thrive in big-water systems and striped bass are well suited to large reservoirs with a lot of open-water foliage. Both prefer open waters with a good supply of gizzard or threadfin which is their primary food source. They rarely go into structured or covered areas opting instead to roam wide expanses of open water following any school of baitfish they come across. They will both spend most of their time in the summer swimming waters 20 to 40 feet deep. In the late summer they will start striking at shad anytime during the day.
White and striped bass feed in packs and watching them feed is one of the most amazing experiences you will see in fresh water fishing. They will herd a school of baitfish to the topwater, attacking them from below and causing gulls to swoop down and feast on those injured in the combat. Anglers lucky enough to be around when this short-lived feeding frenzy occurs will catch a fish on every cast. When boats get too close, the pack will sound but usually resurface at a different location.
Striped bass will grow much larger and faster as well as live longer than white bass. In five years a white bass might only reach 1 and ½ pounds but a striper will reach a weight of about 10 pounds. Stripers may live 20 years or longer while white bass will rarely reach over six years in age. A trophy white bass is about three pounds, while a trophy striper is about 30 pounds. Striped bass grow even larger in salt water, it was recorded that commercial fishermen in the Atlantic once netted a striper that weighted 125 pounds.

Catching white and striped bass

The techniques to catch these hard to find fish are very similar except stripers demand tougher equipment and bigger baits. These fish are easiest to find during spawning season when they school together in the topwaters to feed. After spawning however, the fish scatter over the open waters and become difficult to find. These fish will normally bite early or late in the day except during spawning season where time is not a concern. Be careful though, if you find a school in one spot one day, you might not find them there the next day since these fish are constantly on the move. Here are some tips and tricks on catching these hard to find fish.

Jump fishing
This type of fishing technique is used best when it is later in the summer and the shad have just grown large enough to make a decent meal. When you spot a flock of gulls swooping and diving into the water there is a really good chance that stripers and white bass will not be far. Since the shad will more than likely be centered under the gulls, the stripers and white bass will be attacking them from below.
When you see this type of action, get to that spot as quick as possible but do not motor right up to the school with your outboard or else you will spook the fish. Use an electric motor to edge close to the school of shad, gulls and stripers or white bass and you will have the best time fishing you have ever had. Sometimes these types of feeding frenzies will last over and hour, sometimes they will only last a few minutes.
The best lure to use in this situation is a jig looks even remotely like a shad and you are sure to hook up quickly. Jigs are used because it is easy to unhook the fish and throw in the lure again quickly which is extremely important in this type of feeding frenzy.
Some fishers rig two different rods, one with a topwater lure and one with a diving plug or jig. This way if one fails to produce, they can easily switch to the other rod and not waste time. White bass anglers often rig two or more jigs on the same line. When one white bass grabs one jig, others will try to fight for it but see the other and strike at that. So you end up pulling up a pair (or more) of fish.
There are times when these jigs do not work so you would have to switch to crankbaits, tailspinners or topwaters. Striped bass anglers that are veterans know that a noisy popper that throws water a foot high will attract fish when nothing else seems to be working.

Trolling
White bass trolling is simple, just throw in a small crankbait, jig or vibrating plug behind the boat and troll through an area known to produce these fish. Trolling works best after spawning when the white bass or stripers tend to scatter. The best bait for both white bass and stripers are live shad hooked through the nostrils. Using an electric motor and moving very slowly while watching your depth finder will make this technique much easier. Once you find the fish set your lines right above them.
Striper trolling becomes a bit difficult though. Anglers normally use downriggers and side planers to spread their lines vertically and horizontally to maximize their coverage. When the water is cool in the spring and fall most of the trolling is done in the upper 25 feet. In the summer you may have to get your lines down to 40 to 60 feet of water when downriggers are the best.
No matter what though stripers have to be fished for very slowly so you do not spook the fish. Once you locate a school of fish switch to a technique that will give you more coverage like jigging. Try casting or vertically jigging so you will cover more area and not spook the fish. Continue to work the spot until the school disappears then resume trolling.

Balloon Fishing
Larger stripers have a tendency for heavy cover so they will often hole up in flooded timber or other cover where it is impossible to throw a lure. Southern stripers anglers have devised an innovative method for drawing these fish out of the cover. Hooking a live 12 – 15 inch shad and let it swim over cover using a balloon as a floater.
A balloon works better than a bobber because it will float considerably higher and has less water resistance. A lively shad can tow a balloon around more easily and cover more water than a bobber.
When you see the balloon start to bob violently or break than a striper has taken the bait. Reel up the slack until you can feel the weight of the fish then set the hook hard. Keep as much pressure as you can on the fish to keep it from diving.
The biggest challenge with balloon fishing is gathering the shad since they are not normally sold in bait shops. Serious striper anglers will catch their bait with a cast net and keep it alive in an insulated bait tank.
Use heavy tackle to fish for stripers in timber or very dense cover. Once you hook the fish it will instinctually make a power run for the thickest cover and if you can not turn it immediately you will not land it. Anglers will use a light saltwater rod and a heavy baitcasting reel spooled with a 50 pound mono or superline to fish in these conditions.

Topwater Fishing
The noise and action made by a topwater lure appeal to white bass and stripers feeding instincts. These topwater lures work the best around spawning time when the fish are hungry and chasing down baitfish in the shallows. Even when the fish are not spawning, topwaters work early and late in the day.
The best choice in lure for white bass are small stickbaits and propbaits from two to three inches long. Fish a stickbait with a walking the dog retrieve but fish a propbait with a brisk and steady retrieve.
Stripers will find large noisy plugs hard to resist. These plugs are normally a foot in length because of the sheer size of these fish. Once you see a fish swirl on the surface, cast the plug a few feet away from the swirl and retrieve it with strong swift jerks to maximize splash. A floating minnow plug will work well for topwater fishing for stripers. All you have to do is cast the lure out and retrieve it slowly enough that it makes noticeable waves.

It does not matter where or how you fish. The most important thing to remember is that fish are attracted to the action of the lure rather than color or what technique you are using. Action is especially important to these fish after spawning when they are more difficult to find. They have to be enticed out of the water and the most enticing thing is action of the lure.