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For me, the turn of the calendar to September is always a time to reflect. I look back at last fall’s fishing and use the lessons from those experiences to begin planning the new “fall run”. Of course I focus on winds, tides, moon cycles, structure- the factors that will put me in the best position to catch fish on any given outing. What I find particularly interesting is bait patterns. I focus a lot of attention on bait patterns that will present themselves in the fall. Understanding and planning for bait patterns is essential to catching fish. To be successful finding fish you need to be successful finding a bait source that will attract them. If there’s no food for the eating, predators will move somewhere else to find it.

So what baits am I looking for? I am looking for baits that tend to spend large amounts of time in the same area. When baits are “consistently” in a particular area, the fish will eventually find them, and you will have consistent action. This summer there were a lot of bunker pods up and down the Striper Coast. These are a great source of food for Striped Bass, and anglers who spent any time at their local beaches most likely saw them- along with an abundance of sharks, whales, dolphins, and other aquatic life- feeding on them. The problem with bunker is that they are “here today, gone tomorrow” and when they leave, the predatory marine life goes with it. The inconsistency in the presence of

bunker will result in a lack of consistency in your catches. Sure, bunker can create epic blitzes in the fall, but how many times have you heard fellow anglers say “you should have been here yesterday”? The problem is the bait was and you weren’t. That saying is one of the worst things you can say to someone, and the last thing you want to hear when you walk up to a fishing spot.

For me there are two baits I want to see in the fall that, due to their staying power, will give me confidence that I am going to have some consistent days of fall catching on both day and night tides. Those baits are sand eels and spearing. When you have these baits in areas you are fishing, the pattern will be for them to stay around for prolonged periods of time. As a result, the fish you are seeking are likely to stick around for the easy meals- especially the larger Stripers that tend to want to expend the least amount of effort necessary to stuff themselves. Hey, that’s why we have door dash and drive-thru lanes.

Once you have found that consistent bait pattern, choosing the right lures is essential for your success. What are some good lures to fish during these patterns? During the day tides, I like slim-profile soft plastics, bucktails and diamond jigs. These lures match the profile of the baits present which is essential. My brands of choice are Hogy plastics and S&S Bucktails. I like them for their action and durability. On the night tides, I again prefer soft plastics with a thin profile, but I also will throw a needlefish. Super Strike and Poombah Plugs’ needles have been “lights out” for me over the years, and are staples in my surf bag. I usually work my lures very slow hoping to attract bigger, lazy fish. When there is a large concentration of bait, and the fish are there but difficult to hook, I slow my retrieve down even more to give my bait the appearance of “lagging behind”, making it an even easier target for a hungry Striper.

The fall can bring great catching, but it can also bring frustration. What can alleviate the

frustration is putting your time in day and night to find the right bait. When you find the bait that sticks around, it makes your season more consistent, and your window of catching longer. This is exactly what you want in the fall because before you know it, we’ll be on the couch longing for spring. Here’s hoping everyone has a great and safe fall run with many Tight Lines. Live the Passion! features a monthly surfcasting blog from Bernie Hoyt , a NYS Certified Fishing Guide with 35 years of experience fishing the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast, and now he has a podcast HOOKED ON SURF FISHING WITH BERNIE BASS where he offers listeners the latest in gear reviews and techniques for the surf fishing scene. You can also follow Bernie on the radio Saturday morning and Sunday evening on 1390WRIV AM. Contact Bernie for details on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services.

1 Comment

Al Scardino
Al Scardino
Sep 24, 2022

Impactuful planning and execution guidance. Thanks for your insight..

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