STAY ON BASS LONGER AS DAYS GET SHORTER
Along the Striper Coast, turning the calendar to November for most surf fishermen is the beginning of the fall run home stretch. The days get short and the air temperatures start to drop more rapidly with each passing day. This decreases the water temperature, and, if you are not ready to hang up your gear, there are some techniques that can keep you on the bite longer and give you consistency in your fishing before the season closes.
When the water temperatures take the dive, catching larger Stripers becomes more difficult.
You need to flip the script and adapt to changing conditions. This is when you want to use some late season tactics to entice the bigger fish to strike. By the time you get into mid-November, you’ll want to concentrate your efforts on the outer beaches since most bait will have left the bays and be present “out front”. There will still be a good amount of bait and small fish consistently running the troughs along the beach, especially if there are sand eels present. However, the larger bass will have scattered and not be as condensed as they were earlier in the fall. You must adapt accordingly if you want to score a big fish. The larger bass will not be feeding as actively in the colder water, but they will still be looking for an easy meal as they start to become lethargic. Larger bass want to exert the least amount of energy to obtain a meal and that needs to be factored into your fishing.
So how do you find big bass in the late season, and how do you get them to strike? Well, it’s like any other part of the season- you need to pay attention to the outer beach structure and focus on locations where bait is likely to concentrate. Once you establish your fishing locations, you will need to put in the time. You also must be willing to try some different tactics that you may not have used earlier in the season, and even go “against the grain” regarding your lure selection. For me, this is even more crucial when water temperatures get below 50 degrees.
As mentioned earlier, in colder conditions, larger fish will become more lethargic and not be willing to go that “extra mile” for a meal. They will tend to stage in the lower part of the water column waiting for the easy meal. You have to give yourself the best shot at “hooking up” and this means keeping that lure down in the strike zone as long as possible. The way to do that is to use lures that sink fast and work along the lower part of the water column. This is best done using bucktails. You can get them down in the water column quickly, and you can keep them in the strike zone by adjusting the retrieve. Bucktails will also mimic a lot of different baits which is crucial during this time of year, as a wide variety of leftover bait options are available along the striper coast.
Choosing the proper weight and retrieve will give you more consistent “hook ups”. The proper weight for your bucktail is one that will keep you close to the bottom without dragging it along. The retrieve should be as slow as possible to keep the bait in the bottom of the water column without dragging it. These fish won’t be as aggressive to strike, so you need to keep that lure down. You may have to adjust the weight of your bucktail throughout the tide as the currents and depth of the water will vary. Be observant so you can make changes timely as these differences occur.
Another lure which can create a nice late fall bite is the needlefish. I prefer the sinking kind to get down deep in the water column. Ironically, the retrieve I use is the same as how I work the bucktail- very slow with a slight lift of the rod- as you don’t want to “twitch” the lure out of the strike zone by moving it too fast. This lure also mimics a lot of slim profile baits that may still be lingering around, such as sand eels, and “matching the hatch” is never a bad thing. Both bucktails and needlefish lures can be productive both day and night so don’t be shy about using them no matter what time you plan on making your late fall outings.
In closing, remember that no matter how late in the season, putting in your time will help you get results, and you have to be willing to try new things. Yes, the days are getting shorter, and the nights longer, making it even colder. However, it will always seem warmer when you are out there catching. So, bundle up, grab a thermos of coffee, and create a “hot” bite with these colder water techniques. Live the Passion! Tightlines!
iBass360.com features a monthly surfcasting blog from Bernie Hoyt , a NYS Certified Fishing Guide with over 30 years of experience fishing the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast. Bernie offers trips along the outer beaches and inlets of Long Island, as well as Cape Cod Canal, Cuttyhunk, and other Northeast Striper locations. He is a pro-team member for S&S Bucktails, ODM RODS, and KastKing, as well as a member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the Montauk Surfcasters Association. You can contact Bernie on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services, on Instagram @Bernie_bass, and through his website at https://www.berniebass.com/