There’s nothing like fishing for striped bass from a pontoon boat. The experience is so much more enjoyable than casting flies on the end of an eight-weight rod while sitting in a wobbly rowboat. But the question I’m asked most often from fly fishers is, “How do you catch stripers in rivers?”
Rivers and streams present their own unique challenges to anglers who are accustomed to targeting fish from saltwater and freshwater lakes. With its current, eddies, fast runs, humps, turns, and pockets; a river can be tricky. This makes it challenging for both newcomers to bait fishing as well as experienced fishers who are less familiar with working aquatic environments different from those they’ve previously.
Rivers can be tricky; this makes them challenging for both newcomers to bait fishing as well as experienced fishers who are less familiar with working aquatic environments different from those they’ve previously.
The best way to learn how to catch stripers on the fly in rivers is by talking with other anglers and reading about their experiences and successes, then putting into practice what you learn. You’ll quickly pick up techniques most helpful in catching fish, along with identifying specific locations where fishing will probably be productive. With a little luck and persistence, your striped bass catch rates should improve over time, making it much more enjoyable for you when out on the water. I know that’s been my experience!
What is the best bait for striped bass?
The stripers’ diet includes many forage species, including the shade of several types (gizzard, threadfin, and hickory), alewife, and other minnows. They also eat a wide variety of crustaceans – squid being a favorite food source. It’s natural that they’ll eat any baitfish that are available in the area where you’re fishing.
To take advantage of this behavior, you will want to offer them what they can naturally find in the water in which you are fishing. For striped bass fishing on-the-fly rods in rivers or streams, I most often use small anchovies with a proven record of success throughout their range along the East Coast of North America, Canada, and even into parts of Europe.
What lures to use for bass in rivers?
You should also consider employing some weight-forward or fast-action fly rods. They will make it easier to cast these small lures and keep them within range of the bass you’re after.
I often use an 8 ft., 3/4-weight rod with a floating line when fishing for striped bass on the fly in rivers, but I’m also convinced that a 9 ft., 5/6-weight rod with a soft leader would help me cast better in many situations. Both styles work fine; it’s just my preference, based on how I like to fish this type of water.
What’s the best way to catch freshwater striped bass?
One of the most popular locations to fish for striped bass on the fly is below dams and other water impoundments in rivers. I’ve found that they often hold large numbers of stripers, especially during the spring spawning season.
When fishing below a dam (or any type of structure), it’s best to begin by drifting lures just above or at the base of these structures. The bass here will usually feed along with various parts of these structures, so there are many places where you can have success casting your lure as long as you’re aware of your surroundings and maintain enough slack in your line so you don’t get hung up on rocks or debris.
What is the best time to fish for striped bass?
Fishing for fish on the fly is best during daylight hours, but I’ve had some outstanding success at night in rivers. Stripers often feed all night long in early spring and late fall.
Fishing at night during the summer months can be very productive as well. The warm days are great for wading through shallow water to get to prime locations where stripers are most active during hot summer weather. The cooler nights help keep your line in motion while you’re waiting to hook up with a bass that’s feeding actively along river channels or deeper pockets of slack water near the edges of fast runs or rapids.
The striper fly-fishing experience is truly unique, and it’s become one of my favorite types of water to fish. I enjoy sharing the knowledge I’ve gained hoping you’ll also give this type of fishing a try.
You might be surprised at how addictive catching these great sport fish on the fly can be! Good luck, and happy fishing!