The striper/striped bass/rockfish as it is called in Maryland, is one of the most popular fish in the country. It is literally the state fish of eight different states. It was high time that I caught one.
The striped bass is an extremely wide ranging fish, that through both their natural habitat as well as being introduced by fish and game organizations, are found practically everywhere down the Eastern Seaboard and Canada to the West Coast of the US and Canada. In Florida.
While Florida does have striped bass, they are quite rare and mainly found in the St. John’s River and its tributaries. Much more common is the sunshine bass, a hybrid of striper and white bass. FWC stocks certain areas of the state with these fish, including my area of Tampa, but I can count on one hand how many people that I have even heard of actually catching one.
Because of the wide ranging nature of these fish, you can target them in a variety of ways. I was fishing the Chesapeake Bay, as such, I was able to catch them in a number of different ways.
- Structure: Striped bass can be very structure oriented. I was able to target them on shallow rockpiles with vertical jigs, plugs and heavy, sinking fly gear in the 5-10 foot range
- Shorelines: As the sun sets, bet on a crazy topwater bite in the shallows near spoil islands and rocky shorelines
- Under Birds: Similar to a school or tunas, mackerel or jacks, stripers will bust baits at the surface under diving birds making for a super cool visual bite
Spin, plug, fly, bait; all of these presentations can be very successful when targeting this fish.
I was in Virginia to visit my friend Emil, and we decided to book a charter with Captain Brandon Wingate of Salttalecharters, it did not disappoint. We drove two hours from Falls Church, Virginia to Madison, Maryland to meet the captain. Brandon was extremely prepared for the trip, he had a full fly box and rigged fly rod for me as well as numerous spinning rods with jigs, poppers and plugs.
We visited more than a dozen spots during the course of our trip and we caught fish at nearly every stop in a variety of ways (as I mentioned in the tactics section). Our fish weren’t particularly big, however, having six at a time chase your fly was extremely cool. From topwater blowups to schools of rabidly feeding fish to rips, structure and points, there were fish everywhere.
Another thing that makes these fish so cool, aside from their looks, is that they absolutely hammer your offering. They are an angry fish in the mold of jack crevalle – super aggressive. Again, just like jacks, they can grow to massive sizes, tipping the scales at over 70 pounds, making for a formidable adversary.
Honestly, some of the landscapes here reminded me of Florida’s Nature Coast or Big Bend area.
More Striper Tips
If you want to learn more about stripers, then I recommend checking out this great article from Sport Fishing Magazine. Another great resource is the NOAA fisheries website, it is a great science-based resource. The food quality on these fish is excellent, however, I recommend catch and release. Because of environmental degradation and overfishing throughout the years, it is best to release your catch.
I had an awesome trip where and crossed off another bucket list fly species and saw some super cool stuff. I recommend Brandon at Salttailcharters for your striper trip in the Chesapeake Bay, he’s a great guide! If you enjoyed this post, then I highly recommend you check out my write up on my tarpon trip in the Everglades, another super exciting fishing adventure!
Until next time, tight lines.