Jefffahfffah

What am I doing wrong?

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I've been fishing my whole life. But I only really got into fishing for stripers last fall. I caught 5 stripers, and they were all on bunker chunks in the lower Hudson River. In the several outings I've had at the shore, and in the back bays along the shore, I have never seen a striped bass. There was one night in November where I was fishing Shark River and something was slashing through a large school of peanut bunker, but whatever it was wasn't taking my popper. 

 

Now, I've looked up how to read a beach. I hop between a few jetties during my trips. I look for birds and bait. But I just cannot find the fish. I've filled my tackle box with poppers, darters, SPs, swimbaits, bucktails, metals. I just wanna have a successful day (or night) of plugging, and I feel like I'm taking all the right steps.

 

Is there something I'm missing, or do I just need to fish more often and get lucky?

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In many ways I am in the same boat as you. I  not an expert by any means but the reports for consistent plug bites started only a week ago. Yesterday was the first day I saw someone pull one in with a plug. Actually I saw about 3-4 brought in. I have caught 4 fish this season all on bloodworms and I plug while my rods are out. I am thinking things will start to light up in April, at least that is my hope. Bloodworms are definitely the easiest in the early season while the fish are “waking up”.

Edited by Sevendust111

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24 mins ago, MattieG said:

The more you get out the more you will learn your approach. I suggest you maybe take a read at some John Skinner books. “Fishing the bucktail” is a good one.

I have been looking for them, I think I'm going to order one or two on Amazon to read while the season warms up.

6 mins ago, Sevendust111 said:

In many ways I am in the same boat as you. I  not an expert by any means but the reports for consistent plug bites started only a week ago. Yesterday was the first day I saw someone pull one in with a plug. Actually I saw about 3-4 brought in. I have caught 4 fish this season all on bloodworms and I plug while my rods are out. I am thinking things will start to light up in April, at least that is my hope. Bloodworms are definitely the easiest in the early season while the fish are “waking up”.

The one hit I got this season so far was on worms, put a good bend in my rod but I missed the fish. I might go dig up my own worms while the bait shops are closed but I live an hour from the shore as it is.

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Doesnt sound like youre doing anything wrong. Persistence is key. Match the hatch as they say. Find out what the predominant bait is and fish every artificial you can get that matches that profile. Then target every part of the water column. Try various retrieves. Various speeds. Find out what the fish want. Since you're new try fishing an area with more anglers around. If they are catching and you are not then they are doing something right. If you are sharp then maybe you can see what theyre doing from afar and learn from that. Also remember this..you can only catch fish that are there. Talk to people, tackle shops. When the fish are migrating try to get an idea where they are and fish those areas.

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When you figure it out, let me know lol. I am just like you and have fished all my life. I live on the Delaware River and soak bait before and after work, trying different rigs/baits/spots/etc and log everything. Can never really get on a bite at any given time, just show up and pray basically. I still enjoy it and understand it is what it is, mostly skunks and slim pickings but some good days mixed it.

 

Down the shore it's different for guys who live there and can get out a lot, and have been doing it for years. The best guys I've met tell me you have to fish a lot and pay attention. Eventually you kind of know what works and where fish will be throughout the year. I mean, it makes sense to me. I have freshwater spots where I know what to use and when to use it, and where the largemouth bass will be, but I've fished those spots so many times over the years lol. I just don't have that kind of experience in the salt, but if you can get it, you'll be okay. I've fished 11 times this month, and have 5 stripers under 20" to show for it. A guy on here took his yak out and caught like 30 in a night, so I mean I know what you're going through. It will happen in due time.

 

I read the Skinner books (like 3 of his books) and they are awesome books, but they don't make you any better at fishing. It's pretty easy to tell what bait is in the water thanks to the internet and generally what plugs are working, but they are still nice reads. Good luck reading a jersey beach too, flat as hell and I never see much of anything. I think if you can drive on the beach and find things out there you'll be better off, because "structure" changes all the time anyway and a bar there today might not be tomorrow. You'll always hear about the birds too lol. That's just right place, right time usually. But guys who have fished for 15 years just have a good idea about where they bass will be at different times, and it's very real.

Edited by hurricane1091

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47 mins ago, Jefffahfffah said:

Is there something I'm missing, or do I just need to fish more often and get lucky?

The more often you fish, the luckier you will get ;-).

 

The thing you're missing is experience which will only come with time & effort.  Any yes - it can/will be very frustrating in the beginning but there's simply no substitute for time on the water.  The best advice I can give you is to pick a few spots that you can access easily (this usually means close to home) and learn them.  This means fishing them during all different conditions - day/night, wind, tide stage, moon phase, etc.  Eventually you will have success & you will begin to put the pieces together.  Keep a journal to track your progress.  This is the oldest & best method to learn this game.  It's a long journey which requires a lot of patience & determination but in the end will make you a much better fisherman.

 

Good luck & have fun!

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43 mins ago, Jefffahfffah said:

I've been fishing my whole life. But I only really got into fishing for stripers last fall. I caught 5 stripers, and they were all on bunker chunks in the lower Hudson River.

 

Now, I've looked up how to read a beach. I hop between a few jetties during my trips. I look for birds and bait. But I just cannot find the fish. I've filled my tackle box with poppers, darters, SPs, swimbaits, bucktails, metals. I just wanna have a successful day (or night) of plugging, and I feel like I'm taking all the right steps.

 

Is there something I'm missing, or do I just need to fish more often and get lucky?

 

It took me a year -from one fall to the next- to catch a striper in a bay or the ocean.

 

I think what helped me was to simplify my pursuit. My 1st keeper sized stripers were caught in a tidal river. I hit the same spot for months before caught on lures. It took 2 years before i got a good idea when and what fish would be there. 

 

Anyways, i used to hop around from spot to spot throwing all kinds of lures but once i decided to focus on like 3 spots and 5 lures i started catching along the bay and beach. 

 

Being able to find bluefish really helped my confidence

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1 hour ago, Jefffahfffah said:

I've been fishing my whole life. But I only really got into fishing for stripers last fall. I caught 5 stripers, and they were all on bunker chunks in the lower Hudson River. In the several outings I've had at the shore, and in the back bays along the shore, I have never seen a striped bass. There was one night in November where I was fishing Shark River and something was slashing through a large school of peanut bunker, but whatever it was wasn't taking my popper. 

 

Now, I've looked up how to read a beach. I hop between a few jetties during my trips. I look for birds and bait. But I just cannot find the fish. I've filled my tackle box with poppers, darters, SPs, swimbaits, bucktails, metals. I just wanna have a successful day (or night) of plugging, and I feel like I'm taking all the right steps.

 

Is there something I'm missing, or do I just need to fish more often and get lucky?

 

Sounds like you're close. Sometimes you have to get through some skunks, some bad timing, some bad weather than all of a sudden..boom. It happens. Prep is a huge part of fishing. So is timing and effort. Try new spots which you are, put in the casts and you'll break through. I always think that that 1st spring fish is the hardest one to come by. Fish are waking up and we sort of are to as anglers getting the kinks out. But getting that 1st one starts a chain reaction. All of a sudden you feel more in the game and it feels like you are about to roll. I broke through with a good one yest but it was after 3 or 4 brutal skunkings in previous days. Keep going.You have the quality lures and a good approach. 

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37 mins ago, adams54 said:

Doesnt sound like youre doing anything wrong. Persistence is key. Match the hatch as they say. Find out what the predominant bait is and fish every artificial you can get that matches that profile. Then target every part of the water column. Try various retrieves. Various speeds. Find out what the fish want. Since you're new try fishing an area with more anglers around. If they are catching and you are not then they are doing something right. If you are sharp then maybe you can see what theyre doing from afar and learn from that. Also remember this..you can only catch fish that are there. Talk to people, tackle shops. When the fish are migrating try to get an idea where they are and fish those areas.

I agree with all of this. Fish where others are at and be cool about it. I have learned just as much through tackle shops and people around me fishing as on this site probably more. Before the virus really kicked in I must’ve talk to 20 people over the last 2 to 3 weeks and everyone has been cool and given advice. The guy from the Tackle Box in Hazlet literally told me where to go and what to use. He also told me where not to go. 

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Thank you guys for the input. I live in Rutherford so chunking in the Hudson is by far the easiest for me, but I'm trying to pick some spots that I can regularly hit around the shore as plugging in the Hudson just isn't an option. I'm glad I'm on the right track as it's certainly frustrating to get skunked over and over. I guess persistence really is going to be key here. Trying multiple lures, fishing different levels of the water column, etc. Hopefully things heat up in a couple weeks.

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You got to put your time in. I've been doing this for a long time. Fortune enough to live close to a lot of good spots. But at the beginning it took me a few years before I started catch fish consistently and I used to put in 6 to 7 hours an outing. The more you go the more you will put things together. Keep a lot of notes you'll figure out which tides are good and which place is at what time of year and which wind conditions and what tide. It all plays together. Eventually you'll get to the point where you can fish smarter and not harder. Your outings will become significantly shorter and you'll be putting significantly more fish on the beach.

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5 hours ago, Jefffahfffah said:

but I live an hour from the shore as it is.

I can't say I am any form of pro striper fishing God by any means but a huge advantage I have is living two minutes from good access to them. Honestly my best outings are usually the times I "swing down" to the water and take a peek at what's happening, which is usually only the days when the conditions are good in the first place. Cloudy/rainy days are good days for daytime fishing, around where I live anyway, and there have been dozens of times where my wife gets very mad about me taking three hours to bring back Chinese takeout bc I found a huge school of birds working bait and stopped for a "few casts." I keep a few basic plugs and lures in my car and a rod at all times during the fishing season to make sure I don't miss out on a good bite. Sometimes it only lasts an hour and the friends I call already missed out by the time they get there.

 

Opportunity aside, pitch black night fishing is the way to go even in the prime fishing season. If I plan a trip, as opposed to capitalizing on a hot bite as seen from the road, its always going to be a 9 pm to 5 am trip, depending on where the tide is on that day. Some spots may be better during certain tides, there's no way to know until you have tried every stage of the tide. If I had advice to give, I would say spend your efforts on the night trips, and slowwwwwwwww subsurface presentations. If you have to fish during the day use whatever seems like a good profile to what is around for bait. (I would rather fluke fish from shore during the day) We had giant schools of peanut bunker for a few months at the end of last year and I used a lot of 3" soft plastics to catch huge numbers of fish, but at night I could throw a 9" black bomber and catch schoolies and keepers the same.

 

Everyone has doubts, I have spent many days throwing everything I have in the bag without a touch, and some nights I'm pretty sure a beer can with hooks on it will catch fish. It's just about finding a pattern and capitalizing on it. Good luck amigo

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