Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Catching stripers in the surf!
Catching stripers in the surf!

“I want to go surf fishing. Are they catching anything out there?”

Surf fishing is one of the most relaxing kinds of fishing there is. The
angler can stand on the beach, or lounge in a beach chair while the surf
outfit sits snugly in a sand spike, and fish. It’s easy, it’s simple, and
surf anglers have the advantage of having very few snags on the sandy
bottom. Since you lose very little tackle and you don’t need a boat, it’s a
relatively inexpensive past time.

“I want to catch a striper!”

Stripers are in the surf in the spring along with bluefish, sharks, skates,
flounder, kingfish, trout, and blowfish. If you are strictly fishing for
stripers, you want to fish with fairly large hooks and no surf floats.
Anglers fish with chunks of cut bait with bunker being the all time
favorite. Serious striper anglers cast out a whole bunker head.

Anglers set up several different ways for striper fishing in the surf. One
really easy way to make a striper rig is buy a heavy-duty top and bottom rig
and attach two snelled hooks to the stand-offs. Be sure to buy the heavy
rig. Sea Striker makes two of these rigs. One is made with heavy wire
(1040HD) and the other is made with heavy monofilament (1060HD). The
stand-offs on both are made out of heavy twisted wire. If you buy pre-made
snelled hooks, use Octopus style or Circle hooks in the #4/0 to #7/0 range.
(Some anglers tie or crimp on his or her own hooks with Fluorocarbon leader
in the 40 to 80 pound range.) If you buy long leadered hooks, you may have
to shorten them up a bit.

Stripers often pick up a bait and then drop it when they feel the weight of
the sinker. That is why fish finder rigs are extremely popular when striper
fishing. Some people think they are complicated, but actually, fish finder
rigs are the simplest rigs to use!

“ What is a fish finder rig and how do you it?”

A fish finder rig is a simple gizmo made out of a plastic sleeve and a snap
or clip for the sinker. They cost anywhere from 30 cents to a dollar
depending upon the quality and where you buy them. The sleeve may be white,
black, or blue.

Some rigs have a fish finder rig in the package, but you still need to know
how to set it up. First of all, feed your line, directly from your rod and
reel, through the plastic sleeve of the fish finder rig. Next, attach a snap
swivel or a barrel swivel to the very end of your line. Then attach a
leadered hook to the snap swivel or barrel swivel. The last step is to
attach a sinker to the connecting link or snap of the fish finder rig.
(Hint: If you are using a shock leader place a bead just above the fish
finder rig so it doesn’t get hung up on your knot.)

I use fish finder rigs in the surf and the bay all the time to eliminate
line twist. Plus when the fish picks up the bait off the bottom they can run
without feeling the sinker at first. This especially works well with
stripers. Keep in mind that fish finder rigs only work with a single
leadered rig. You can’t hang a top and bottom rig on a fish finder rig!

Some anglers buy a pre-made rig that acts as a fish finder called a Long
Ranger or Breakaway Pulley Rig. These pre-made rigs let the fish pick up
the bait for a few moments before it feels the weight of the sinker. It
also has a little plastic cone called an “impact shield” that holds your
bait and sinker together when you cast out so you can cast 30 per cent
further. These rigs really work and are pre-made so all you have to do is
add a sinker. There’s a video at www.breakawayusa.com/shop/rigs.htm.

If you like to “yank and crank” and set the hook as soon as the rod tip
shakes, a simple 3-way swivel with snap for a sinker will suffice for
striper fishing. If you are fishing for the big stripers buy fairly good
sized 3-way swivels such as a #1/0 or #2/0 size. Attach a sinker slide or a
duel lock clip to one eye of the 3-way for the sinker. Attach a leadered
hook to another eye of the three-way swivel. Use a good snap swivel at the
end of your line to help eliminate line twist. Then attach the last hook of
the three-way swivel to the snap swivel and you have a simple rig! Works
for almost anything!

The whole thing about striper fishing in the surf is this. Stripers bite
best on plain hooks without surf floats attached. BUT, the little spotted
crabs in the surf will eat your bait off if you- 1) don’t use a large bait
such as a whole bunker head—or 2) don’t keep it moving a little.

“How do you cut up a bunker? Do you fillet it or chunk it?”

If you are dealing with a whole bunker fish, whether it is fresh or has been
frozen, it is best to cut the fish into chunks for stripers. Cut out the
belly and guts, and save the belly meat to make strips for flounder or
trout. Take the dark upper portion of the bunker, and cut it all the way
through the bone into chunks. If you leave the belly meat on, the guts will
wash out, and the belly portion will flap around in the current and cause
resistance. If the current is strong it may dislodge your sinker and wash to

“What about baiting a whole head?”

Some anglers cut off the lower jaw and hook the bunker head in the mouth and
out the tough part of its snout. Cutting the lower jaw cuts down on the
weight when casting. Be sure to use a large hook when baiting a whole head.
Anglers use a size #7/0 to #10/0 hook. Be sure that the point of the hook is
clearly outside of the bait. If you try to bury a hook in the bait, you
will miss the “hook up!”

(http://www.hatterasoutfitters.com/faq_baitprep.htm) shows how to cut up and
bait bunker.

If you buy fresh bunker, do not let it lie around in melting ice, or it will
start to deteriorate. And if you have used it for two or three days feed it
to the gulls. Don’t try to refreeze it!

Some bait and tackle stores sell bunker fresh, frozen, or in the
form of salted fillets. Fresh bunker is always good as long as it is really
fresh and not been sitting around too long. Frozen, vacuum-sealed bunker has
been treated as fish bait (not crab bait) and was blast frozen as soon as it
came in off the boat. This stuff is pretty good if you can’t get fresh.
Frozen salted fillets of bunker are also good because it stays on the hook
the best as it has been salted. Cut it up into strips or chunks. (Hint: If
you go into a bait store and ask for frozen bunker, be sure to specify that
you want it for surf fishing as bunker is also used and sold for crab pot

“How about mullet?”

Bunker is still best, but stripers will take mullet. A nice
chunk of mullet or a whole finger mullet on a mullet rig without the surf
float will work. Some anglers keep the float on, but move it away from the
hook. I take a real sharp knife and cut the float right off! Works for
flounder too!


Bloodworms are the more expensive bait to go, but they do work.
Put a good-sized piece or even a whole bloodworm on a #1/0 to size #4/0 hook
on a single or double rig and cast right out there. Often times, especially
in Ocean City, when stripers are close in to shore, they will quickly take
bloodworms. They are more likely to be “short” but it is fun.

(If you can get your hands on fresh herring or fresh spot, that’s also great
striper bait. But don’t go to a fish market and buy any kind of fresh fish
like croaker or sea bass. It’s not oily enough.)

Casting lures in the surf, especially at dusk or dawn, will
catch you stripers. Flip out three to five inch soft-bodied lures in sloughs
close to shore and you’ll likely get some action. And occasionally a
keeper! (Need a 7-9 foot rod and reel spooled with 10-12 pound test.)

The beach? Look for holes, cuts, sloughs, and breaks in the
bar. Or walk out as far as possible at low tide and heave it! The beach
changes all the time, so always look for new holes and sloughs at low tide.

http://www.stripersonline.com/surftalk/showthread.php?t=417339 Reading
the Beach

Tide? Incoming to high is usually best, but time of day is also
very important when striper fishing. Dawn, dusk, and after dark can be the
key. But I have a very big philosophy about surf fishing when anglers ask
when to go. “Go when you can… If the weather is nice and you want to go
fishing…Go! Don’t wait for a certain tide…it might start to rain or blow by
then…. Just Go!

Good fishing…