Over the past two decades the Striped Bass (Rockfish) fishery has become one of the largest and most economically important in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. What once used to be a rare species can now be found up and down the seaboard from back bay sod banks and rivers, to open bays, to hoarding large schools of baitfish out off the shoreline. Any of us that has been lucky enough to be on a good feed of big bass in the Atlantic with little to no boats around knows that it really doesn’t get much better for an avid fisherman.
Popularity will naturally attract new anglers who, with a quick Google or YouTube search, will be inundated by thousands of hits on how to fish for Striped Bass. With that in mind we decided to keep it simple and have a quick Q and A with a proven charter captain about some simple rigging techniques for big bass that work day in and day out. Since we are targeting a fishery that gets incredible recreational pressure we would like to remind all anglers that big girls need to swim away. Please practice catch and release of large striped bass so they can continue to keep the fishery viable for many generations to come.
- What is your go to rigging technique when trolling bunker spoons?
- What is your go to rigging technique when live bait fishing and how do you like to hook your baits?
- What is your go to rigging technique when trolling Mojo rigs?
- Do you have preferred times of day you like to fish for bass in the ocean?
- Do you have preferred tidal patterns, moon phase, or other factors you like to look out for when fishing ocean striped bass?
Captain Joe DeGruttola – Chasin’ Tail Sportfishing. Port Monmouth New Jersey
- Captain Joe has been fishing and running boats in the Raritan Bay for 18 years. He specializes in Striped Bass but also targets many other species along the inshore and offshore waters of New Jersey. Captain Joe has affiliations with Avet Reels, TN Tackle, Seaguar, Noreast’r, and Rogue Offshore.
- When fishing bunker spoons I still like to fish wire. My setups are Avet JX reels spooled with 50# backing and 300ft of wire on top. 300ft is sufficient to get your spoons down 20-30ft. From the wire I use a 15ft length of 60lb Seaguar Flourocarbon leader connected by a small Spro swivel. My rods are 7’6” Tsunami Power Trophy medium heavy with great action. I know my spoons are running correctly with a good pump back and forth on the rod a troll speed.
- Live bait fishing for trophy bass we use nice, light setups – Avet SX and MXL do the trick. I like to fish a top shot of 30# Hi Vis monofilament so I can see where the bait is and also it provides the stretch I find necessary to generate good hook sets when live bait fishing. I set up all my rigs with slip sinkers that give us the option to fish weight or not then add a short section of Seaguar 30-50# Flourocarbon leader to a 9/0 Octopus Hook. I always stagger my baits to start – some with weight and some without – then adjust accordingly. As far as hooking my live baits I like nostrils for a free-swimming bait, next to the anal fin if I want the bait to swim down, and in the back behind the dorsal fin if I want it to swim out away from the boat.
- When fishing Tandem Mojo I like a 3 way swivel with a 4ft section of 80lb Seaguar Flourocarbon leader to the heavier (12oz) bottom Mojo and a 6ft section of leader running to the lighter (6oz) top Mojo. I tend to stick to the 12oz/6oz and 16oz/6oz combinations. I will adjust color and size of the Mojo depending on conditions.
- My preferred time of day to fish the ocean for Striped Bass are the obvious times for most fishermen – early morning and late afternoon. Early morning as the sun is rising and late afternoon as the sun is setting are prime feeding times for bass! Using different techniques and adjusting your fishing to the conditions will lead to putting a quality catch together throughout the day.
- Oceanside Striped Bass fishing is primarily about moving water for me. I am not saying I don’t pay attention to what I am seeing during each tide but I want to see moving water. Is there a big temperature change? Is the bait around on one tide more than the other? Are the fish only feeding on one tide over the other? Will it be wind against tide? Sometime one or a combination of these factors comes into play when looking for a bite. As for moon phases – I tend to like to fish the days prior to and just after a full moon or new moon. With the full or new moon comes stronger currents and higher/lower tides than normal. Fishing a full moon in a nutshell is sometimes hot and sometimes not!
Editor’s Note: The purpose of “Ask a Pro” is not to confuse but to provide legitimate opinions from a variety of professionals that test their equipment and techniques on a regular basis. While there may be quite a lot of information to filter through – remember – this is not a “forum” with “armchair fishermen” commenting on the latest and greatest gear. We want you to TRUST our information!!! As a result, our mission is to be professional angler driven and provide you with the best information possible. We are confident that any of the gear or techniques discussed in our “Ask a Pro” series will increase success the next time you fish. Fish the Front!!!