How To Catch Striped Bass
Striped bass are exciting to catch no matter where or how you catch them…from shore, boat, tube or toon. We will also include a discussion of stripers in the salt water section, since they can be found in both fresh and salt water…east coast and west coast. They are readily available to tubers and tooners just about wherever they live. Many stripers are taken on lures being cast for largemouth bass or other species. They can be whupped on light to medium tackle. But, if you want to specifically target bigger fish you should beef up your gear accordingly. Stripers are tough. “Linesides” are fierce predators. They often chase baitfish to the surface and feed on them
with big splashy “boils”. You have to be lucky to get into boils while fishing from a float tube. However, if you have a pontoon, with oars or motor, you have a better chance of chasing down a boil before the fish quit feeding and go back down.
On some lakes, during certain times of the year, the boils become predictable. You can set up along specific stretches of shoreline, on known points or in the backs of frequently used coves, and wait for the stripers to show up on a regular schedule. On some waters striper boils occur during the late spring months when shad are massing to spawn along brushy shorelines. On other waters boils are most common in the fall when water temperatures start falling and shad feed heavily on zooplankton near the surface. The stripers gang up on shad schools and go crazy. If you hit it right you will be talking to yourself for the rest of the year. Like their smaller cousins, the white bass, stripers go deep during the warmest days of summer and the coldest weeks of winter. If you have a toon with a trolling motor you can troll for them in the depths. You can also deep jig for them from floatation craft if you have sonar to help you locate them and determine the right depth.
There are several lakes in the east where you can whack big stripers from boat, tube or toon. There are also some good striper ponds in the south and in the west. The main problem with some of the big western impoundments…like Lake Powell, Lake Mead and Elephant Butte…is that there is limited shoreline access for tubing and tooning. If you want to chase stripers from your floatation system, on the big lakes, you have to get lucky and have them available within easy reach of road access. The only other alternative, if you do not have a motorized pontoon, is to put your craft on a boat and ferry it to another spot on the lake where the fish are active.
A mixed basket of yellow bass and channel cats from Arizona’s Saguaro Lake, near Phoenix on the Salt River. One of the few places in the west where yellow bass can be caught. Notice how they resemble white bass, but with a yellowish tinge.
Like catfish, or any other large spiny fish, stripers can be hazardous to both you and your craft. If you mix it up with stripers you need to be prepared with a large net, gaff, lip grippers, fish gloves, etc. You must prevent them from bouncing off your craft and sticking a spine into an air chamber. It is also a challenge to safely keep stripers while tubing or tooning. Stringers are potentially too dangerous, since the fish can tangle your fins or put holes in you or your craft if they start thrashing on the stringer. A large wire fish basket will easily hold several “schoolie” sized stripers. But, if you are fishing a striper factory, like Lake Powell, and are encouraged to remove stripers
from the lake, you should tow out a large floating live well. It can be done with a tube but a larger pontoon provides much more mobility and power for the towing. Otherwise you need to release more fish or return more often to deposit your catch in a cooler.