Winter striped bass fishing can be some of the most exciting fishing you can do. The hunt for the stripers in cold water, then, the presentation of the bait and the art of balancing to catch the stripers is fun!
When the water turns cold and the metabolism of the fish slow down is my favorite time to catch big fish. My preference of bait is threadfin shad. This is the time when I will use the biggest shad I can get or the biggest I have frozen all year. The rod may move up and the bait move forward or the rod moves down, which will tell you whether the fish is moving toward you or away. This movement proves that there is fish here and you never know what size it might be. It could be that prize fish you’ve been waiting to catch all your life.
The days of just snatching up big stripers each time you go out are over. Today, you must hunt, present, and act, to be successful at catching big fish. You will find that this can all be part of the fun of the catch. The thrill of the line screaming off the reel and then you set the hook and your rod doubles over with the weight of a big fish. This is what fishing is all about.
The choice of rod, reel, and line can be half the battle. I specialize in light tackle. This means having a rod and reel as light as possible but you are still able to set the hook. The line must be light enough but strong enough to do the job. You don’t want to pay the price of having a good rod and reel and then put on cheap line. I use Fenwick HMG Steelhead rods and Abu Garcia 6600CL levelwind reels which hold at least 165 yards of 15 pound test line. The line I use is P-Line CXX-X-strong which does the job. By using smaller line size you can use less weight in the current to keep your bait on the bottom.
The tide plays a big roll in fishing stripers in the delta. In the fast part of the tide you want to fish shallow water and in the slower water you can go deeper for fish. In the slack water you want to fly line. By fly line I mean to cast out your bait with no weight and as the boat turns your bait moves on the bottom. Boy, is it fun when you catch a fish at this time.