Its Spring. We made it. The time of year we all wait for. We have been cooped up all winter and the anticipation is over. It’s go time. The resident Striped Bass and the “schoolies” will start to stir in the estuaries and back bays as the air and water temperatures begin to rise. The migratory fish will navigate their way north for the summer months. Taking advantage of early season “schoolie” action is a must for surfcasters who are just happy to get the line wet after a long winter.
When pursuing these early season stripers, paying attention to mother nature is essential. Familiarizing yourself with the impact of winds, tides, and moon cycle and their effect on striper feeding habits and behavior will increase your success. When fishing spring stripers in back backs and estuaries (a.k.a the skinny water), wind can have a big effect on tidal movement. Strong winds will assist with the movement of water, as well as the movement of bait fish present in these shallow areas. During early season fishing, the tides that produce more consistently are tides that are dropping in the late afternoon. The sun has warmed these shallow areas all day, increasing the surface temperature of the water. This slight increase will get the fish active. The dropping tide also allows bait to be pushed out of the back bays and estuaries. When it comes to moon cycles I prefer to fish around the new moon as this increases feeding activity. I prefer two days before the new moon, the new moon, and two days after for achieving the most success.
When selecting tackle for the early spring run, reliable choices for success are soft plastics, small bucktails, and other small profile lures such as Yozuri Mag-Darters. These lures tend to imitate bait that appear near these shallow areas. For soft plastics, I prefer Tsunami Swim Shads and soft plastics from Hogy. The minute I decide Bucktails are needed, S&S Bucktails’ Rockhoppers are my absolute go to. When it comes to color I stay basic by either throwing white, bone, blue/white or red/white during the day. If I’m fishing at night, I switch to wine, black, or similar dark color combinations. However, if the water has a tinge, which can occur often when fishing shallow waters with muddy and silty bottoms, I will switch over to chartreuse, bright green, or yellow patterns. I have witnessed a notable difference in hook-ups using these colors in these various situations.
Always remember to be flexible when going to “school” in the spring, and never stop learning. Do not hesitate to try new things to increase your success. Focus on adapting to the conditions of the different areas you fish. Following these recommendations, particularly paying attention to the tides and weather factors, will help you carry a successful spring over to a successful full year of fishing. Live the Passion! Tightlines!