Big schools of bunker (menhaden) have made a comeback and fuel big-bass bites from the Jersey Shore to Long Island and from Mass Bay to Maine.
One lure that seems to have found a unique foothold in the New Jersey fishing scene is the Nichols Ben Parker Magnum Flutter Spoon. This supersized metal was adapted from freshwater use by Mike Gleason of TAK Waterman and put to work on Raritan Bay stripers.
The Drifter Tackle Doc is a must-have lure for anywhere, but it is especially essential anywhere large stripers are locked in on eating big bunker.
A large, deep-diving metal-lip swimmer, like the Big Water Lures Giant Pikie, is popular from both the surf and the boat as a match for big bunker. Swimming one through the middle of the water column or dropping it back into current rips puts it right in the path of prowling bass.
Some days, it’s tough to beat a classic paddle tail shad, like the Tsunami Swim Shad. When bass are hanging deep below bunker, vertically jigging one of these shads can catch huge numbers of bass. While the 5-inch size will put up numbers, anglers hoping to weed out the schoolies should have better luck with the 9-inch model.
In deeper waters off northern New Jersey and Long Island, anglers willing to troll for their bass will have a tough time beating the Mojo Rig. This heavy leadhead and big shad combo has become a popular striper-trolling tactic over the past five years.
There’s always a place for a large soft plastic stickbait, such as the Z-Man HeroZ. Rig it on a jighead and fish it with a “snap-jigging” presentation, in which the rod is violently snapped upward and then lowered, allowing the lure to drop without resistance.
For fly-fishermen who want to best a true trophy, there’s no better time to do it then when bass are feeding on balled-up menhaden. You’ll need a big fly that you can actually cast, and that’s exactly the inspiration behind the Sedotti Slammer.
1) The Snell
With circle hooks mandatory for all striper fishing with bait, anglers will benefit from learning how to snell a hook onto the leader. A snell provides a super-strong connection and a straight pull, which can help a circle hook lock into the corner of the fish’s jaw.
2) The Albright Knot
When surfcasting for stripers, an extralong “shock leader” can be helpful for providing added abrasion resistance in rocky areas and for cushioning knots when casting heavy bait rigs. The connection between leader and braided main line must be strong and low-profile enough to fly through the guides. This makes the Albright knot an excellent selection. It’s fairly easy to tie (even while out in the surf or on a boat), very secure, and slides through the guides with ease.
3) The Double Improved Clinch Knot
When connecting braided line to a barrel swivel, doubling the line before tying an improved clinch knot will result in a stronger connection since the braid has a greater opportunity to “bite” into itself and lock off the knot. The resulting tag end may look like a daddy longlegs spider, but it’s easily trimmed.
4) The Non-Slip Mono Loop
Most striper anglers use a clip or a snap to attach a larger lure or jig, but for smaller flies, lures, and teasers, a clip can be too conspicuous and negatively affect the action. To attach these smaller offerings,
the Non-Slip Mono Loop knot allows the lure or fly to swim freely.
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