Striped bass that migrate to fresh water to spawn are called spawning stripers, and they spend part of their lives in freshwater rivers and then migrate to the ocean. Spawning stripers spend the winters off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia, and begin to migrate north toward the Chesapeake Bay area and New England Coast when the water starts to warm in April, May and June.
Items you will need
- 17- to 20-pound-test line
- Sharp circle hooks
- Lures or live bait
Fish for spawning stripers in areas where they rest during migration, such as shallow areas of the rivers and near rocky banks. Cast your bait where there is a shallow area surrounded by very deep water. Look for spawning stripers resting in holes that contain fallen branches and other wood cover.
Locate the fish as they migrate from ocean to freshwater systems to spawn by monitoring the water temperatures. Catch spawning stripers moving toward the headwaters of the river when the water temperature begins to warm to around 55 to 60 degrees F.
Fish during the evening and night, if possible. Go downriver as the tide is going out, and fish toward the head of the river as the tide is coming in.
Use at least 17-pound-test line and very sharp circle hooks to catch and reel in the stripers. For live bait, use worms, eels and mackerel; for hard bait, fish with torpedo sinkers, surge tubes and spoons. Choose artificial lures that resemble what spawning stripers feed on, such as poppers, flies and swimmers. Vary the speed at which you troll, making the lures mimic the natural movements of small fish.
Tips & Warnings
- Spawning stripers are plentiful in the Piscataqua River in New Hampshire starting in early May.
- Minimum size requirements vary from state to state. Check your local regulations before keeping the fish you catch.
- Check with your local government about fishing licensing requirements.
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