I can see alot of folks have questions about bait tactics for Stripers.
And for good reason, as there is hardly a better way to consistently dupe stripers, IME. Combine a properly presented live bait and a savvy kayak angler, chances are, there are going to be some stripers hitting the decks.
Store bought bait may work in a pinch, but stripers can be selective when not feeding in a competitive mode. IME, when available native baits will get the nod from me 9 times out of 10. Gathering, care and presentaion of native baits is a artform in itself and this is where many anglers good intentions, remain just that.
Non-gamefish destined for the hook, can be taken by several legal methods such as rod and reel or castnet. Baits obtained in this manner can be fished live, whole fresh dead or cut sections depending on conditions and the bite.
Top fin fish choices for Southern striper chasers can include the following where legal-
1. Gizzard shad
2. Threadfin shad
3. All sunfishes
4. Blueback herring
5. Rainbow trout
6. Freshwater drum
7. Barfish (yellow bass)
All of these baits will have a time and place depending on the fisheries, conditions and time of year. Some baits will require more care than others to be fished live. Gizzards, threadfins are notorious for going belly up without the use of a large round or oval tank with pump and filtration system. Even with the use of a tank, care has to be made with partial water changes and sudden temperature increases or decreases of more than 8-10 degrees. I also use Sure Life chemicals in my insulated shad and herring tanks to insure the very best water quality. So, how big should a shad tank be? I like 1 gallon of water per bait in most situations
for larger baits. I also use custom made bait tubes for my herring, since they will tend to kill themselves by slamming into the tank walls unless I add a fish calmer like Tranquil. Anywhere native or stocked trout and or bluebacks co-exist with stripers, you will have potential for HUGE stripers to be lurking.
Once bait is obtained, now the game begins. How should the angler go about presenting it to the fish? Post cold front Winter/Spring bluebird days and sweltering Summer draw downs may require soaking fresh cut center sections or whole cut off heads on the bottom in known striper haunts. While active or selectively feeding fish can be tempted with live baits presented on a freeline (no weight) ,wind drifted under a balloon rig or via planer board. All of these methods have produced plenty of stripers from the kayak for me and my customers, including some real nice Trophies and Personal bests.
Here is a quality Canadian River striped bass that fell for a herring head soaked on the bottom during a low water, late Summer drought -
RiverViking and YaknYota demonstrate what kind of stripers a motivated and skilled live bait angler can produce on the Brazos River, Tx -
Tailrace areas immediately below major impoundments are great draws for stripers and will hold fish year around for both the plug/jig tosser and bait soaker to take adavantage of. While access to these areas may be somewhat limited by kayak, enterprising anglers on foot with a long rod can put some of the largest fish in the river within striking distance -
As always, keep what you will eat as the law allows, and let the rest be CPR'd. Here is a shot of RiverViking putting one back in the drink.
If a 8 year old can CPR, so can you