THE STRIPER MIGRATION: WHERE AND WHEN TO FIND FISH
We all know Striped Bass are migratory fish. This means you have to be ready to move if you want to catch fish consistently, and you have to know the pattern of their movement. This is not only true for the springtime northern migration, you will need to understand the different locations to find Stripers during the different months of the seasons.
During late winter and early spring months, Striped Bass move in from the ocean to the major tributaries of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays as well as the Hudson River. While they can be found in other tributaries too, these three are the source for most of the Stripers. In the Spring,
temperatures rise and fish start to breed (males age 2/3; females 4). Once the breeding process has ended Stripers move out of these areas and begin their migration to their seasonal “homes”. Some fish will remain in these tributary areas. Striped Bass are known to migrate as early as 2 years of age, but most begin migratory behavior at 3.
Striped Bass migration has two stages which begin in the spring and end in the fall. This two-part process creates optimum “windows” to catch Striped Bass consistently. Migratory fish prefer to be active when water temperatures range from 55-65, so you will want to put yourself in areas with water in this range to give yourself the best chance of success- both in spring and fall. This includes, but is not limited to, changing the types of areas your fish during these periods, so
include canals, creeks, and bays, as well as ocean beaches, in your mix. If you are determined to catch, you should even consider trips to fish in different states along the Striper Coast- from the Carolinas to Maine- as the fish migrate north in the spring and south in the fall.
So, where should you concentrate your efforts during early spring migration? For a successful outing, I recommend to start in the back bays and tributaries. These waters have shallow depths and will warm up quicker as the days become longer and air temperatures become warmer. Look for the dropping tides in these areas during late afternoon and early evening, as the sun has warmed these waters all day making the smaller bait fish active for the chase by feeding predators. Try to avoid areas around inlets as cold water will be pumping in from the ocean. In later spring, start to concentrate your efforts in bays, inlets, and ocean areas, as water temperatures will start to rise with the increase in air temperatures, causing fish to show more activity in these deeper waters. Bigger fish will also become more active during this time period.
This brings us to the fall migration. By this time, you’ve hopefully had a great spring and summer
In late fall, concentrate on those outer beaches, especially when we have the typical fall cold snaps. These sudden temperature drops will cause bait fish to leave the shallower areas, and the oceans will come alive as fish start their run south. If blitzes are what you're looking for, get out at sunrise and look for birds diving and bait bubbling on the surface. Don’t forget to put your time in along those outer beaches even when birds and bait aren’t showing. You will definitely be rewarded for your efforts.
The fall run produces a narrow window of opportunity especially when temperatures really crash. You’ll want to get out as much as you can knowing that before too long you will be sitting on the couch looking forward to the spring run again. Always remember, Stripers wait for no one, so be ready to go. You never want to hear a buddy say “You should have been here yesterday”. 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/