When is the best time of year to fish for stripers? Should I troll or cast? What baits should I use when casting? These are all questions I receive quiet often in regards to striped bass fishing in Pennsylvania. When a potential client calls and would like to book a striped bass trip with me the first question I ask is, “would you prefer to cast or troll”. Both methods work and the specific time of year will dictate which method I use at a given time. There are some myths out there about catching and releasing striped bass in warm water they are just that ” a myth.” If the correct precautions are taken fish caught in surface water temperatures under 80 degrees will release fine and survive to fight again.

FAQ’s

The question most frequently asked is, when is the best time of year for striped bass fishing? That is a really hard question to answer. In order to answer that question correctly, I have looked back and tracked success rates over the years during various times of the year. Early spring can be good if conditions are favorable. Late spring through early fall including summer can also be very productive and is usually more consistent. Night trips in spring while casting plugs can be rewarding if you prefer to cast. Another prime time for casting is late Spring and early Summer in the day. As you can see it is a bit complicated. What makes it complicated is the pelagic bait. So as I break all this down and analyze it, It really depends on your prefered method. Versatility is the key to consistency! In Lake Wallenpaupack as well as other impoundments, the bait movements will dictate your best approach at a given time.

fish where the bait are

The majority of bait will gravitate toward warmer water in early spring toward the banks, but a cold snap with wind with effect this pattern. Once the surface water reaches about 60-65 degrees in spring, the bite becomes more consistent. The bait will start to commit to the shallows. This temperature is also the beginning of the spawning temperature for the herring. (alewife) It is also a prime night fishing time. As the water warms, the majority of the bait will move back out into open water. That’s when trolling is generally the best option. The key is to always fish where the majority of the bait are. When bait are shallow fish shallow and cast. If the baitfish are out over open water the most efficient method is trolling. Sometimes the striped bass and the bait will remain in perimeter areas. This is a good casting situation in deeper water in Spring or early Summer.

When trolling in Summer always use heavier line such as 20 lbs fluorocarbon and 17 lb leader. The heavier line is necessary with the hardware used for trolling and will help to get the fish in the boat a bit quicker. Get a quick photo and then quickly release by holding the tail and gently swaying the fish back and forth to get some oxygen into the gills. Always handle with wet hands.

Lures and Baits

Swimbaits, bucktails, and Rapala stick baits are generally my go to lures for casting. But at times topwater baits , glide baits and flutter spoons are better options. Trolling baits are really pretty basic. Stickbaits and spoons earlier in the year followed by mainly cranks and swimbaits later in the summer. I have also caught them trolling worm harnesses. The key is the right speed for the lure you are utilizing. Using live Alewife is also productive trolled or positioned over fish holding areas in open water.

In conclusion

Striped bass fishing in Pennsylvania can be rewarding regardless of your preference in style. Follow the bait and plan your strategy accordingly. Keep your bait in the strike zone wherever it may be and use heavier lines as the water warms to minimize delayed mortality and help prevent entanglement in underwater obstructions. Pennsylvania stocks Striped bass into several impoundments including Beltzville Lake, Raystown Lake , and Lake Wallenpaupack. I encourage and practice catch and release on this species as the demand on our fisheries is ever increasing. Pennsylvania state budgets as well as the availability of fingerling striped bass play a part in the management of these lakes. As a guide, I feel it is my responsibility to educate and practice catch and release!!

In Dedication To Jim

This blog post is dedicated to a client and dear friend that passed too early. In mid November Jim Vasta a good fishermen and even better person passed. My condolences to his entire family and to his dear friends Mike, Fred and the rest of the crew! Jim would book every year with a couple groups of gentlemen. We were out together in rainstorms, bitter cold, as well as bluebird skies. Jim you will truly be missed!!!