Striper fishing 101

Discussion in 'Mac Byrum's Catfish University' started by Mac-b, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. Mac-b

    Mac-b Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    North Caro
    I started striper fishing back in the early 80's and have been doing it ever since. On my home lake, Lake Norman, our season is normally from the later part of September to the mid part of May. During the 80's and 90's we had some nice size stripers within the range of 10 to 30+ pounds. The limit back then was 8 per person, with a minimum size of 15 inches. LKN is stocked with fingerling's every year and about 165,000 dispersed around the lake. A fingerling is about as long as one joint on your finger. Now we have a limit of four stripers per person per day with a size limit minimum size length of 16 inches and the average size striper in around 4.25 pounds. How did we go from such large stripers to such small ones, you might ask? The answer is simple and not so simple. Some say it was from overfishing, some say that the droughts over the years have been the villain, some say that the hot water from the two power plants has affected the oxygen supply, mouth maggots, etc. I believe it is a combination from all of the foregoing.

    Above, I stated that our season is from Sept. thru May, but there are some that fish for them year round. Most of us do not do this, the reason being is that when you catch a striper in the deepest part of the water column and then you bring it up thru the warm water you have stressed it out and it is suffering from a lack of good oxygen. Then when you release it back into the top of the water column it does not have time to get sufficient oxygen before it can get back to the cooler water and a high percentage die. Most fishermen do not know this because it takes awhile for the striper to surface and by them the fisherman has moved on to another location. The most popular time and way to catch them is during the summer under a light and this so happens to be quite damaging to the striper fisheries.

    Now I will talk about what I know about catching stripers on my home lake, which most likely, you can apply to a striper lake near you. To catch stripers you need a boat with a good sonar, a population of sea gulls, Loons and Cormorants, but not necessarily all of them.

    There is nothing special about fishing gear for stripers on Lake Norman, but if you have large stripers on your lake, you will need to up size all equipment that I discuss. In the recent past, all of my reels were Abu Garcia's 6500 and my rods were Ugly Sticks made for stripers. I currently use the Guide Series reels by Gander Mtn., which are 6500 bait casters and they lite weigh rods. These rod are furnish to me by Gander Mtn. because I am currently on their Pro Staff. My fishing line varies in color and size. I am currently using 10 to 15 pound test fishing line. My hooks range from size 4 circles to 1/0 J hooks. Some people use different size treble hooks. The only important line that I use is for my shock leader, it has to be fluorocarbon.

    There are several ways you can fish for stripers, you can chase the birds (sea gulls) and cast lures (buck tails, road runners, flukes on a jig head, hard baits, etc.). Or, you can troll with your outboard (750 RPM's) pulling hard baits that can go down to 5 feet to 19+ feet. Or, you can slow troll with your trolling motor at a speed of 1/2 to 1 MPH. Or, late in the evening of early in the morning you can work points with a combination of your big motor and trolling motor and cast to the shore line or points with top water lures or buck tails.

    Most striper fishermen drift with the assistance of their trolling motor. Our techniques are simple in nature, but effective. It is suggested that your have rod holders on your boat, four to six on the rear and three or four along each side. A trolling motor with auto-pilot is a plus feature and lets you fish rather than controlling the trolling motor.

    If you are fishing for suspended fish close to the bottom then you would use down lines. To develop a down line, you place as egg sinker on your fishing line, then a bead, then your swivel and then make you a shock leader out of fluorocarbon fishing line and attach your hook of choice. If you are marking arches at 20', then you want to place your bait at 17 or 18'. You have to keep the bait above the striper, because they can not look down, only up. You can gauge the proper depth of your line by pullng the line off the reel to the first guide, which is usually two feet (measure it to be sure). Then place your rod in the rod holder and when the striper takes your bait, let it pull the rod tip down to the water. Set the hook if using J hook or if using Circle hooks, crank that baby in.

    If you have stripers at the top or close to the top of the water column, then I would suggest you use free lines or side planer board or both at the same time. To rig for this type of fishing, put a bead on your fishing line, then your swivel and then your shock leader as I have described before. You can attach a split shot to your shock leader to get the bait down to an area of 5 to 8 feet. To free line, just cast your live bait out the back of the boat until it is in the strike zone and then place the rod in your rod holder. If you are using side planer boards, make your bait cast and then attach your planer board and then let out 25 to 75 feet of additional line and the planer board will them run beside the boat, but away from the boat. When a fish hits the planer board, do not grab the rod, let the fish pull the board to the rear and then pick the rod up and bring the fish in. I have discussed the use of planer board elsewhere on 'Mac Byrum's Catfish University' and you might want to read it.

    There are some lakes where anchoring down is effective using cut baits and a rig like we use for catfish. So this does not need a lot of coverage.

    As with all my articles, if you have a question, you can PM me or direct your question to the Carolina Catfish Club section and I will try to get back to you as quick as possible.