Spring striped bass season in Nor Cal is heating up! Here’s a list of my must-have lures to catch them with this spring…
Of course may favorite way to catch stripers is up top on the surface with topwater plugs. The blowups are so fun…and I actually get some of my biggest fish of the season this way.
I think the easiest way to get started with throwing topwater is with pencil popper style plugs. They have a great wounded fish sputtering, splashing action that doesn’t take a whole lot of time to learn.
The Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper is a great topwater plug (I usually go with the 6″, 1-oz size) that won’t break the bank (about $9). I like the Bone and Silver/Black patterns best.
The only real drawback to these is they don’t feature wire-through construction so there’s a chance the plug can snap in half on a really big fish. It’s never happened to me before but I know some guys who have had it happen.
Another really sweet option (that’s reinforced on the inside) is the Duo Realis Pencil Popper (148 size) in Neo Pearl or Sardine. It’s a few bucks more, but you get that piece of mind that it will hold together if you hook the fish of a lifetime.
The glide bait revolution started several years ago and now it’s hard for me to get out on the water and not throw these things at least part of the day. The lazy “s-turn” action of these baits really turns stripers (and big bass) on!
Grind these things slow with just the reel (not the rod tip) and then do a few really fast cranks and then pause. Mix up the action — the fish will tell you what the want on a given day.
There are some crazy expensive glide baits out there in the $200+ range but I don’t like throwing a lure like that at fish that can possibly take them away from me. 🙂
So to that end, I fish a lot of River2Sea S-Wavers in the 168 and larger 200 sizes. The bone and rainbow trout are my two favorites.
Another good affordable bait for our local waters is the Savage Gear 3D Shine Glide Bait
The Chartreuse Shad is my top getter but I also like the Threadfin pattern. Generally I’ll go with the 5 1/4″ size when I’m looking for the most action. The jumbo 7 1/4-incher is the one if you want to maybe miss out on some smaller fish and just go hunting for the big bite.
Tossing rubber swimbaits towards rocks, tules, sand bars and wood is a great way to search for spring stripers. There are lots of models out there and most work well enough. I’m a fan of softer baits with a square shaped tail on them such as the Big Hammer Swimbait Tails The 4″ and 5″ models are nice because they have enough profile to entice big stripers but are also not so big that the smaller fish won’t eat them. You can, however, size up if you are targeting only big fish. Great White is my top producer and sometimes, when the water’s off color, I’ll dip the tails into Chartreuse Spike It Dip-N-Glo Worm Dye (unscented).
Most days, I run 1/2-oz lead heads but 1/4-ouncers are nice when the water is really shallow. The Big Hammer Jig Heads work well with these (and other brands of swimbait tails). Normally, I’ll use white heads with white swimbaits but you can also go with chartreuse heads in conjunction with white tails.
When stripers are spread out and you need to cover the water quickly — or you have a nice windy day that’s blowing bait against the points — jerkbaits are very effective.
Probably the most effective (and pricy) is the MegaBass Ito Vision 110. At roughly $25, these puppies aren’t cheap, but man do they work! I like the Elegy Bone, French Pearl and Sexy Shad color patterns for the Delta and rivers.
A step down but still deadly is the Luckycraft Pointer 110 in American Shad finish. Retailing from $12-13 you can buy a couple of these for every Vision 110.
The issue with jerkbaits for stripers is they usually come with light wire bass hooks that quickly get destroyed by stripers. So, I replace all mine with either No. 2 or No. 4 KVD Triple Grips.
The trick here is find a hook that is stronger but won’t affect the action of the lure. I’d like to go with 3X or 4X strong models, but the neutral buoyancy of the lure would be compromised. The KVD hook seems to be a happy medium. They will still get beaten up by stripers eventually but they definitely last longer than the stock models do.