Time to strip the old line off the reels, get your lucky hat on, and get spring fishing!
The last month the striper bite as not been ideal and very inconsistent. The water temps really did not climb or maintain a warmer temperature for the month of March. The water temp at Lake Pleasant is finally staying in the 64-67-degree range.
The females are full of fully developed eggs and the males are leaking.
Lake Pleasant striper catch rate on the rise
The last week the bite has really improved. Whereas last month most anglers reported only catching and average of 3-7 fish daily, that has now increased to 11-30 (or more) fish during a trip.
Last month live shad seemed to be the only consistent method producing fish on a slow bite. Lately anglers are reporting frozen anchovies, silver Kastmasters, plastic swimbaits, and top-water lures as producing good results.
I think the next 2-3 weeks will produce moderate-to-good fishing conditions for striper. Northern coves are still recommended for best results.
Anglers are catching fish in 20-48 feet of total water depth and still having success cast-netting shad in 4-8 feet of water.
Recommended swimbait colors would be sexy shad, white, smoking grey, money shot and baits with some chartreuse color in them. The night bite is slowly picking up and night fishing will become more popular moving into future months. If using anchovies, don’t forget to chum.
Water conditions: Stained (mossy green), light chop Tackle: One-ounce Kastmaster spoon, 16-pound Stren MagnaThin line (green color to match the mossy green water) Water depth: 12-14 feet Moon phase: Waning gibbous (third quarter) Presentation: Trolling at 900 rpms (about 2.5 mph) Boat: Spectrum 19 1/2-foot
The winter season is here and striper anglers want to relive holiday stress by hooking some line-zinging stripers. This can be a tough adjustment for anglers who are used to filling coolers with 40-80 fish on a trip like they do during the summer and fall seasons.
I have solutions!
Where to fish? Somewhere over the rainbow
One solution is called rainbow trout fishing, and this is the time of year to enjoy an awesome winter bite for a beautiful rainbow colored fish. Many anglers are reporting great results with many guys catching their limits within an hour or two.
Anglers can fish around the city in the Community ponds and lakes or the other fisheries that are stocked on a regular schedule. Try using PowerBait or meal worms on 4-6 pound test line or cast small Mepps, Kastmasters, and roostertail spoons.
AZ winter striper fishing tactics: go midday
If you still have the passion to go after the striped bass, try going from midday (noon to 5 p.m.) when the fish seem to be most active.
If you’re able to cast-net live shad, the shad will help cause a bigger bite and more keeper-size fish. Shad can still be found in shallow water near the shores or structure. If you can’t catch shad, use frozen anchovies and don’t forget to chum to attract and hold a school under the boat.
Continue to cover water when casting and try different speeds when bringing the lure back to the boat. It’s somewhat normal to have a school of fish under the boat with no aggressive bites. The key is to be patient and to drop that bait or artificial lure at different depths to trigger a fish to bite.
With the water temperature getting to lower 60-degree water, the striper are not as active and will need more enticing to bite.
This is my recommendation for the “Striper Blues!” Go trout fishing, and wait until the new year for more striper action.
Most people get excited for the month of October for many reasons: a changing season, comfortable weather and also — Oktoberfest.
I say forget that, and focus on OKTOBERFISH.
October can be the best time of year to fish for striper and white bass. The fish are adapting to the weather changes and water cooling down, which results in more aggressive feeding patterns. They are gorging on shad, crawdads, and anything else they can ambush and fill their bellies for the upcoming winter months.
This time of year, the bite gets especially active, leading to more opportunities for top-water action or boils.
The water temperature will slowly get colder, but will average in the mid 70s or high 60s this month. Once we get later in the season, like Dec.- Feb., the water will get much colder, resulting in a slower bite.
This also means air temperatures will be getting very cold at night, making it uncomfortable — and difficult to night fish.
This is another reason why anglers should fish during October: the weather is comfortable during the day and night. Compared to summer, anglers should focus on a little more shallow water. Try fishing for striper at the depth of 40-65 feet.
Get “jiggy” with it — AZ style
Jigging spoons will be effective this time of year. Bounce the spoons off the bottom or try experimenting retrieval speeds when jigging. Anglers should also fish coves and shorelines since striper will be chasing shad towards the shore/structure to ambush them.
This will create boils and great top-water conditions.
Try casting paddletail swimbaits or use top water spooks to increase catch limits.
Fishing stripers in the dark
The night bite will really be on fire this month.
Be sure to chum and use a good underwater lights to attract baitfish. I went with friends last weekend to Lake Pleasant and my friends and I averaged a bite — or a fish — every minute using frozen anchovies on a dropshot rig.
It was a blast, and we had many doubleheaders all night long. Take advantage of the aggressive bite and current fishing conditions while they last.
Here’s a game plan for August striper fishing. It’s simple. The water temperature gets hot and the striper go deep.
For two reasons:
No eyelids, and light sensitivity, means they want to escape the bright daytime sunlight. Cooler water is deeper in the water column. The water temperature might be 86 degrees on the surface, but at 100 feet the temperature might only be 76 degrees or less.
2. Deeper water equals more oxygen. Many Arizona lakes are having water pumped out daily. This results in the water levels dropping greatly over a short period of time. So those coves, channels and bays are now a lot more shallow and extremely warm. That might be great for some species of fish, but for striper, it’s a NO GO!
A warmwater feeding pattern
The water temperature at Lake Pleasant is averaging 86 degrees. This can be good because this triggers the metabolism of the striped bass, which then feed even more aggressively. This of course means more boils — a blast when using top-water lures.
Warm water also means that the fish are going to go deeper when they aren’t busting shad on the surface.
August game plan: Xs and Os … and ice
Fish during sunrise and sunset hours for boils. If you can handle the heat and insist on fishing during midday hours, fish deep with a dropshot and anchovies, or jig spoons.
Nighttime fishing gets really good in August with many boats catching anywhere from 50-100 fish a night. Same information applies to night fishing also: fish deeper water and don’t forget to chum and have a great light in the water to attract baitfish.
If possible, use live bait. Live shad is the ultimate bait and will greatly increase your chances. When fishing these lakes at night. be sure to think safety all the time. Have lights, a first aid kit, spotlight, cell phone, and also monitor monsoon activity.
Be sure to have all required life jackets in your boat. It’s the LAW!
Don’t forget the last two important rules of striper fishing: be sure to put your catch on ICE after keeping it — and have fun!
Since we’re in the summer season, and top-water/boil action will become more common, I thought I’d share helpful tips with everybody.
Here we go:
Top-water feeding frenzies
These occur because 50 to 5,000 striped bass roll and porpoise in sync. These “boils” can simmer, or boil over, as striped bass trap shad schools against the surface.
Water attacks and crashing splashes mark the area. Disturbance by fishing boats cause striped bass schools to sound and then reappear a few hundred yards away as feeding resumes in a different direction.
As shad grow in size and develop stronger swimming ability, the surface action gets more intense as striped bass corral shad against the surface or trap them near the shore or structure. The tendency for shad to “ball up” in a tight school when predators approach allows striped bass to round up and trap shad schools.
The trapped shad school is repeatedly probed by striped bass working together to eat, injure and kill as many shad as possible. Shad are often slashed by the jaws and stunned by the powerful caudal fin during such encounters.
Striped bass capture most shad at the surface, creating a highly visible disturbance with water splashes and a boat’s wake-like wave as stripers line up shoulder to shoulder to feed.
When the attack commences, the surface activity is intense and visible for many hundred meters as water is thrown high in the air.
A striper bite window: narrow to wide
Surface feeding boils last from a few seconds to as long as hours. Duration is probably determined by shad abundance. Many shad allow a longer feeding period while few shad may be consumed or lost from sight in a few seconds
Boil etiquette: get some
Once we get father into hotter weather, the fish will go deeper and the boils will be more common and luckily longer with duration.
If you see a great top-water boil, and fellow fisherman fishing that boil, never drive into the boil with your boat.
This can risk the fish moving on and also make it difficult for other fisherman to cast into the boil area. Also try to use your trolling motor, or drift your boat to the outside edge of the boil. The noise from the boat motor can reduce the length of the boil.
Working the striper frenzy
Cast your lure over the boil and work it into the feeding frenzy area. In general, silence is golden and less boat noise will generate more success with a striper boil.
Jerkbaits, Rat L Traps, Kastmasters, swimbaits and Zara Spooks make for great success when fishing boils. I would also recommend having a rod with your favorite lure ready to grab and cast in the boat at all times.
Since these boils are unpredictable in length of time, take advantage of the opportunity as long as you can. Have the equipment ready to go. I hope we all get to fish these exciting boils together.
Some misspell them, “strippers.” True enough, they are just that: strippers of line.
Today, though, we’ll be talking about stripers.
Just northwest of Phoenix, the striped bass fishery is buzzing. Lake Pleasantis a haven for these linesiders, known for their line-stripping potential, excellent table fare (their mild, white meat is great for fish tacos) and, under special regulations at this 9,500-lake, no bag limit.
Great to eat. No bag limit.
Yep, and this type of fishing is suitable for men and women, great-grandparents and children.
So during the next month or so, here’s one way to catch these feisty fighters.
Summer and early fall striper fishing at Lake Pleasant, Arizona
Fishing at night is usually the best option during the summer and early fall. The process can be simple: submersible lights below the boat at Lake Pleasant (above) attract tiny shad, and the shad attract the predatory striped bass. The green-tinted surface shows juvenile stripers chasing and flashing and dicing balls of one-inch shad. Nature’s aquarium.
A key is to find darkness. Again, fish at night. And away from full moons and removed from other boaters who are dropping submersible lights. Check asolunar calendar before heading out.
On Friday, Sept. 18, multiple boats — 13 in an 80-yard radius — flashed their green submersible lights. Coupled with red-and-yellow lights streaking off the dam, the scene hinted at Christmas:
It also meant the lights weren’t as effective because, in this scenario, the shad disperse among the additional light. Anglers want them congregated. Find a lonely cove on a new-to-quarter moon. Corner the shad market.
Boat anglers can head out with medium-action spinning rods filled with 12-pound fluorocarbon line (or monofilament to save some money.) Rig up a dropshot with No. 2 baitholder or circle hooks and 1/2-ounce weights. Do not set the hook with circle hooks; baitholder hooks, on the other hand, will allow the angler to set the hook, an advantage with light, bait-thieving bites.
Also pick up some anchovies (the north Phoenix Sportsman’s Warehouse and most WalMarts have them) and keep them frozen in an ice chest. Head out to 50 to 100 feet of water and lower the submersible lights, chum the waters with bits of anchovies, kick back, and tell your fishing buddy a couple old line-soaking stories (true or not) as the food chain under the boat forms like bubbles into foam.
In general, quality stripers tend to suspend right off the bottom, and aggressive, smaller fish around the middle of the water column.
Monitor the fish finder for the indications of fish. If you’re fishing from a kayak/canoe, cover a lot of water until you find the bite.
Cut one-inch sections of anchovies (frozen anchovies stay on the hook much longer). Hook a piece anchovy through one side of the skin, rotate the hook 180 degrees, and hook it back through the anchovy. If your fish finder is marking fish at, say, 30 feet, or on the bottom, drop the rig into the water, counting the seconds it takes for the bait to get into the target area. Keep that count in your mind — once you’ve found the depth of the fish, it’ll be time to figure out the next number on the fish-finding combination: the bite and hook-set.
“One is the ‘dink, dink dink,’ really weak bites: these guys are master thieves at getting anchovies off. The second is where you get two feet of slack (in your line). They’re coming up, so you’ve got to reel in the slack and whack them. The third bite is your rods just bends.”
Arizona fishing offers more than just striper action at Lake Pleasant, so see our www.azgfd.gov fishing page for a mixed bag of resources, such as stocking schedules, maps of our top fisheries (including access points to Lake Pleasant), and details of where to fish.
Mmm … fish tacos
Stripers make for great fish tacos because of their mild, flaky, white meat, and medium texture. Also, the average-sized striper (10-12 inches) naturally fits into taco shells. If anything were meant to be …
And here’s why: once an angler fillets a striper, he or she should cut out the blood line along the center. With average stripers, that leaves two strips tailor-made to relax in those crunchy or soft, curved-corn delicacies.
Here one way to prepare them: dip the fillets in an egg wash and roll ‘em a bed of white corn meal and either Panko bread crumbs or your favorite spices (I used a creole seasoning). Heat vegetable oil (enough in the pan so the fillets float) to the point that a pinch of corn meal flicked into the oil will sizzle. Fry for 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets.
Fish tacos can be as simple as adding your favorite salsa and greens. Simple can be delicious.
As head we deeper into fall, expect successful striper techniques to involve jigs and swimbaits. Stay tuned to this blog for updates. Also, the Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page has a helpful article on jigging for stripers.
In the end, whether you’re catching stripers or “strippers,” the result is the same: lots of action, unlimited bag limits, and local, organic fish.