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Trying to catch my first striped bass - need help

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Steve Gungino

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Been lurking on here for a couple weeks now, trying to learn everything I can about catching stripers before the season's over. I'm completely new to surf fishing and saltwater fishing in general but I've been freshwater fishing for 4 years now. As of me writing this I've been out 6 times with no luck  throwing mainly white bucktails along with some paddletails and sp minnows. The only time I've seen any activity is when what I think were striped bass going after a school of peanut bunker, however they weren't interested in anything I was throwing. I went to a local bait shop the other day and they said they've been having good luck throwing paddletails in the rivers. Fished there pretty much all day and caught nothing, everyone else I saw there also said they had no luck. I don't care about catching the most fish or the biggest fish I just want to catch any fish. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Located in Western Connecticut.


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Do you feel like you have a good feel for working different parts of the water column? These fish can be caught from top to bottom. But once you find the zone, it’s best to stay there. 
Also, unless you’re talking very recent, it’s possible the fish you saw breaking but couldn’t catch were something other than stripers. While they can get finicky, more often than not, if there on a feed, they’ll eat the fake stuff too

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39 mins ago, Steve Gungino said:

Yeah, the probably weren't stripers. But other than that I haven't seen any fish at all, every time I've gone out it's been dead. I think I'm fine at working different depths.

Not sure where you were fishing…but could have been anything from bonito right down to hickory shad. 

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Try a 1 or 1.5 oz Kastmaster with a bucktail on it. They cast a country mile and if there are any stripers around they'll hit it. 


Don't get discouraged, the fall run is coming to a close, if you don;t catch a striper this year they'll be back next spring. And the smaller schoolies stay on as holdovers. If you're in W CT, the Housatonic (sp?) is the place to be. As the water cools, fish it slow and deep. Take a couple cause if you're fishing it right you'll snag bottom on occasion and lose some. 


I was fishing a Kastmaster in the Thames some 20 years ago, at Eastern Point Beach. Caught a small schoolie striper. I was tickled! But a guy came up to me and said he'd been watching people fish there for years, never saw anybody catch anything until that day. Made my day! 


One other suggestion, get some jigs of different sizes (1 oz with 3/0 hook), and some Hogies (soft plastic in white, pink and black), fish em slow and low. 


Good luck and tight lines! Let us know when you connect! 

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I've had extremely good success in the Fall with a KastMaster but try a 1/2oz without added hair.  Varry your retrieve fast slow jerk stop start the more erratic the better. If you find a spot with current movement revert to your fresh water heritage drift a sandworm off a float, Stripers love worms.

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You are doing the right things, sometimes when fish are keyed into bunker they can be hard to convert....and then sometimes easy to convert.  It is all part of the game.


I was flyfishing over bass on peanuts and they would not touch the fly. The peanuts so thick I was occasionally snagging them as I stripped in the fly.  On the fifth snagged peanut, instead of pulling it in, I paused it. A beat later, I was hooked up. Sometime they just want the real thing.


Technically fishing bait on anything but a circle hook is illegal. So if you fish bait use the right hook.


Try to resist buying a ton of lures. I carch 80% of my fish on bucktails.  Read john skinners book "Fishing the Bucktail". The only thing i would suggest is on occasion  fishing a redgill rascal teaser in tandem with your bucktail. Teaser/bucktail and Teaser/plug combos can be deadly and are great when there is smaller bait around, which is most of the time.


The fall can be good for daylight fishing, but the general rule of thumb is to fish at night. Target places you know bait to be.  I like fishing the dark into dawn this time of year because it can be a favorable window and allows me to visually scout other spots on my way home. Be prepared to connect with a larger fish as they are moving through the area.


It is late in the season so your opportunities are shrinking.  Good luck.  Every year is a stepping stone.  You will dial it in.

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