The Hunt For Big Bass

By: Steve George / Nightstrikes Surfcasting Guide Service

The late May into mid-June period has to be one of my favorite times to
fish for Big Striped Bass. It is also the time that I do not get a lot of sleep
and my days and nights get mixed up. Don’t ask me what day is because I will most likely get it wrong.


My late spring reading consist of tide charts, moon phases and wind forecast all for good reason. As these major factors go into my planning to target these post spawn migratory striped bass heading northward up the NJ coastline.

The personal log books that I have kept for as long as I can remember are my starting point. But Mother Nature has a way to make my work even harder when it comes to finding the feeding patterns that can change from year to year. I know where to be on certain dates and it always seems to fall under the full and new moons consistently but the weather can really make such a difference as to how to target these fish.

I love to make reports. They say you shouldn’t follow reports but to
tell you the truth I don’t know one fishermen that doesn’t check the
fishing reports on a daily basis. This is very vital information knowing
what is happening and where. With today’s technology it doesn’t get any easier! For example right here at FishingLBI.com. Don’t leave home without checking it out.

The Equipment

You want to handle and turn that 30/40lb+ Big Striped Bass in the surf and heavy current? You better have a fishing rod and solid fishing reel to get the job done. Personally I use nothing under 11’ in length with a moderate/fast action and a 2-5oz lure rating. There are so many great options available today for surfcasters as today’s rods are made lighter and stronger than ever. Lamiglas, ODM, Tsunami among others offer great options in a variety of price points to fit any surfcaster’s needs.

Reels also are lighter and strong. A powerful drag is a must! They don’t necessarily have to be waterproof but it does help under some conditions. The Penn SSVI is a great reel that is affordable and durable. For those who demand the best, Van Staal!

One of my best investments made was a very good pair of pliers. Van Staal Pliers and Danco Premio Pliers are two great options. When you are talking about Big Striped Bass, trying to get hooks out of a fish in a timely manner is a must. Gotta have a quality pair of pliers on your surf belt.

The Tackle

Your hook is the first thing between you and the fish. Whether on your lures/plugs or your bait rigs. Buy the best ones available and keep them sharp! Mustad and VMC offer great treble hooks. Gamakatsu offers some of the best chunking and live bait hooks.

Next is your leader. Both nylon monofilament and fluorocarbon line are good. I use 40# fluoro but you can get by with 30lb. If you are fishing around rocks go heavier, 50-60#.

This brings us to your main line. Braided fishing line is the way to go for both casting distance and rock solid hook sets on the slightest hit you feel. It’s a must have when fishing lures but there are still some occasions where monofilament line comes into play. Some still use it for bait fishing.

The Lures

I am a big fan of fishing darters and bottle plugs especially Super Strike Lures. I have confidence in them for big bass which feed under the cover of darkness. Their action is irresistible when worked the right way in the right conditions. Moving water is preferred during moderate and calm seas as long as you can stay in contact with the lure. Swimming stick bait plugs also have their moments and I never head out on a trip without a Daiwa SP Minnow or Yo-Zuri Mag Darter as they flat out catch.

This night a big hungry striped bass went for a Yo-Zuri Mag Darter.

The Catch

So you made you plan of action by studying your tides. The weather is favorable and you are all set to go. Gear is ready and you made
your way to the water’s edge. It’s time to make that first cast. Confidence in yourself to get the job done is the number one thing is you need. This comes from everything you did up to this point. On each and every cast stay focused on your retrieving and presentation… Then BAM!!!

Do not hesitate to set the hook hard and be sure to never let a big bass get the upper hand. Your gear will do the work – keep that rod tip high and your line tight the entire fight. Allow the fish to run if it wants to. If the fish is taking too much line tighten the reel drag a little but this should have been set before hand. Eventually the fish will tire and turn. Keep the momentum to bring it in.

Keep in mind and be ready for that one last gasp power run. Allow it but don’t let up. Stay in control. At this point, start to back up and use the waves coming into the beach as leverage to ride the fish in. Don’t ever horse it. Keep the line as tight as possible until it’s on the beach and close enough to grab the leader. From there using the leader or lip the fish to officially land it. Now’s the time to rejoice but also act fast with a photo and release.

There is no better feeling of accomplishment at this point as you put in the work and conquered. Now it’s time to do it all over again!

NightStrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC
Steve George – Call: 609-276-6983

Any anglers looking to advance their fishing and learn from an experienced and accomplished saltwater guide is encouraged to contact Steve at Night Strikes Surfcasting Guide Service to set up a guided fishing trip.

NightStrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC

Author: NightStrikes Surfcasting Guide Service LLC

My Name is Steve George (a.k.a.Nightstrikes) and even though I cut my teeth growing up along the banks of the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek in Pennsylvania fishing as a child I quickly realized my real passion for fishing when I moved to New Jersey. The saltwater got into my veins very quickly and even today after over 40 years of fishing the Surf, Back Bays & Inlets of NJ the passion is still there stronger than ever. I’ve had a very important mentor back then just starting out and I have always vowed to give back to the sport that was given to me from him and others over the years. My journey really got interesting the last 20yrs or so as I started writing/reporting along with helping others during the infant age of the internet and the birth of the fishing websites/message boards like the BassBarn and StripersOnline to name a couple making many great friends over this time and lead me to become a member and officer of the Berkeley Striper Club – Seaside Park NJ. Currently I have been writing a monthly column for On-The-Water Magazine called “From the Surf” for the last three fishing seasons and it has been a great experience sharing my adventures and providing some tips and techniques to my fellow fishermen. It’s time to take to the next level of giving back as I would like to offer a variety of guided surfcasting fishing trips and private lessons to surfcasters of all ages and skill levels during the entire fishing season. Trips will be customized to every aspect of surf fishing that I do starting in April and continuing into December. Day and Night Trips will be offered from Sandy Hook NJ to Cape May NJ. Early spring trips will target resident Striped Bass and the arrival of Big Bluefish invading our waters. These trips will include safe handling Catch & Release practices and tagging these young Striped Bass for research. Come May will mean searching and catching maybe the fish of a lifetime as we will hunt Big Post Spawn Striped Bass migrating up the coastline fishing with some of today’s most sought after custom fishing lures that these Big Bass can’t resist during their journey. If you don’t have the tackle and equipment to handle and land these fish it will be provided for you. Once summer rolls around its time to fish for Summer Flounder/Fluke along the beaches daily during the open season. Again if you don’t have the tackle and equipment to catch keeper fluke I will have you covered including my favorite baits and rigs along with access to the best locations I have found over the years. And finally “The Fall Run” which is a special time that starts off looking for False Albacore in September and then looking for the migration of Striped Bass and Bluefish Blitzing our beaches shortly after during October and November into December. Again what I really want to do here is to make you a better surfcaster going forward by teaching the techniques, how to read the water, understanding the tides and moon phases and strategies that you can use year after year. I hope you come along with me on this next journey of my life and maybe someday you can pass on what you have learned to the next generation of fishermen with a passion for Surfcasting the Jersey Shore. Contact me via Email _ nightstrikes@comcast.net to book your dates for the 2020 Fishing Season or Call 609-276-6983 Thank You, Steve George

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