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Striper Fishing With Live Bait
Submitted by: James Swift
You can catch big stripers up and down the East Coast each year, using a variety of methods and many kinds of tackle. If you wish to take full advantage of your chances for a striped bass longer than 40 inches, then live bait on a 3-way rig is your best option. Standard baits in the New England region are eel, hickory shad, scup and menhaden, also called porgy or bunker. Live baits work well no matter the time of day or day of the week. Start fishing seriously for stripers in May, and you can keep on until ice becomes a problem on the boat?s deck in late November. Big bass over 60 pounds have been caught at night or during broad daylight.
Once you find a location that fish like, the rest is simple. It is the type of fishing that, with some straightforward directions, your grandmother could use to snag a fish, providing she could land it. A 3-way rig was the downfall of one of the heaviest bass ever landed, a 76-pounder caught on a reef by Captain Bob Rochetta at Montauk Point. This is the second-heaviest striper ever recorded, second only to a 78-pounder landed at a New Jersey jetty by Al McReynolds. The three-way rig has been used successfully to catch fish between 55 and 70 pounds in bass-filled waters at Plum Gut, The Sluiceway, Valiant Rock, and Sugar Reef, to name a few.
A 3-way jig is actually very simple. The jig gets its name from its starting point: a 3-way swivel. One swivel goes toward your main line, obviously. The second is designed as a dropper loop (which is exactly what it sounds like: a piece of line with a loop used to attach a heavy enough lead sinker to bounce on the bottom in a running tide). In some cases, a dropper loop needs a sinker that weighs as little as 4 to 6 ounces, while other rips and reefs may call for 16 to 20 ounces to keep your bait in the strike zone during your drift. Swivel three holds a 4 to 5 foot length of fluorocarbon leader material. The measure of the leader is questionable, since some use heavier line when they fish around hazards, like lobster pots. Some prefer 50 lb., as it is a good balance between sneaky and strong. There are days of clear water that make the bass line-shy, and on days like that some use 30 lb fluoro. Terminal tackle is pricey now, and between Seaguar Fluorocarbon, Spro Swivels and Gamakatsu hooks, your rig can get rather expensive. A successful means of avoiding losing countless rigs to the bottom is to employ a lighter line for your dropper loop than the leader. This way, if you get caught, you can snap the dropper loop, losing just your sinker, and still reclaim the rig and your bait. For instance, if your main line is 55, your leader is 50, and that makes your dropper loop around 30 lb.
For the main line, use naught but braided line. Using braided line has a few distinct benefits for this application. One is that its smaller diameter offers less resistance against a moving tide, letting you use less weight to keep the bait in the strike zone. Possibly an even bigger advantage is that braided lines offer minimal line stretch. With monofilament, you can typically expect up to 10% line stretch. With almost no stretch with braid, you can feel everything that is going on, and you get excellent hook sets. You can plainly tell if you are fishing over a sand bottom, mussel bed, or boulders as a result of the line?s sensitivity. There are many effective brands available, such as Fireline, Stren, Daiwa, and Power Pro. The definite advantage that Daiwa has is that the braid is weaved from eight strands, while many others use four. Most braids feel as though you have to break them in before they are useful, but Daiwa is a very limp and smooth line.
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