MSC Striper Tips & Techniques Page...
This page is dedicated to helping novice striped bass anglers learn more about the techniques involved in pursuing these great game fish. Please use the email button at left or post on the message board your suggestions and topics for consideration. Photos (jpg or gif) are needed to help illustrate techniques.
The Uni Knot, developed by Vic Dunnaway, has long been recognized as one of the best knots to use for multiple applications. It provides 100% knot strength and, with minimal practice, is easy to tie (even by feel in the dark!)
The Uni-Knot is also an excellent knot to use when joining lines of equal and different diameters. The Uni Knot is far superior to the Swivel Knot for joining double line to swivel, such as in offshore fishing.
Bait/Night Fishing Lights...
Handhelds are great for close proximity communications (1-3 miles, maybe more over open water) and for emergencies. By nature of their output wattage (3-5 watts max vs. 25 watts from fixed mount VHFs) and antenna length, they do not reach the maximum line-of-sight transmission capability of a fixed mount 2 meter VHF radio.
If you buy a handheld, buy a 5 watt unit (the maximum output allowed by the FCC). Just be aware, because of line-of-sight transmission, these radios cannot reach out like their fixed counterparts. If possible, buy a handheld that will accept an external antenna. (You can make one from an 8' piece of # 12 copper wire.)
A fixed mount VHF with an 8 foot long antenna will reach as far as 7 miles (the curvature of the earth based on transmission over open water or unobstructed terrain and the 8' antenna height.) Higher antennas of 11 or 14 feet perform better, especially mounted even higher on a mast, but this is impractical for your boat.
A good fixed mount can be had for $100 - $150 and an antenna & mount for $40 - $125 depending upon brand/quality and whether you select plastic antenna mount or stainless steel. Select an 8' antenna with 8 db rating to reach the potential of the radio. The loading coil/stainless whip antennas simply do not work as well as an 8 footer, because 8' functions as a true 1/4 wave folded dipole, whereas the loading coil/whip combo tries to simulate the extra antenna length by coiling wire.
...the antenna is all-important! Almost any brand of VHF today will send & receive...the difference is in ruggedness, seals against dirt & moisture, etc. A radio must pass a 25/1 watt output test to comply with both FCC regs and the truth in advertising laws.
A quality antenna will help you get the best signal to noise ratio and full 25 watts on high power. Generally a 6db 8' VHF antenna works best to get maximum range of 7 miles over open water. (I know...some have you have talked to Alabama & Mexico, too...but that's a skip...VHF is line of sight...so 7 miles is it before two 8' antenna disappear behind the curvature of the earth. Get the antenna higher, get more range.)
It's hard to beat the Shakespeare Galaxy series. Beware the expensive alternatives (8' or less)using loading coils and tuned circuitry to claim effective db's of 9 or 12..."they ain't what they's wired up to be!"
Basic Freeline Rig (unweighted)
Basic Fishfinder Rig (down rod and cut bait fishing)
Bend (2) 48" long rebar pieces around 1/2 bolt to allow room for shackle.
3/4 oz. - 2 oz egg sinker
Leader (usually 18" - 36")
Leader (usually 18" - 36")
Build Your Own Breakaway Anchor...
1 1/2" galvanized pipe or PVC (pipe may be filled with molten lead (careful!). PVC may be filled with mortar.
48" long rebar, 1/4" or 3/8" dia...depending upon boat size.
After bending rebar around 1/2 bolt to allow room for shackle, place the two pieces together and slide into pipe.
Next, bend each rebar up to 30 degree angle to form flukes, keeping each rebar at right angles to each other piece.
Use with or without chain, depending upon whether or not you filled pipe with lead or concrete. If anchor becomes hung, just wrap rode around a cleat and power the anchor free. The rebar flukes will straighten easily, freeing the anchor.
What NOT to do while trailering your boat...#1
What NOT to do while trailering your boat...#2
Safely remove a fishhook...
A fishhook embedded just under the surface of the skin can usually be removed without the aid of a doctor. DO NOT slide the hook up through the skin, cut off the barb, and pull the fish hook back out in reverse.
Instead, loop a length of mono or string around the curve of the hook and grasp the string with one hand. With the other hand, gently press down on the hook's shank to free the barb from surrounding tissue. Once the barb is disengaged, yank quickly on the string to pull the hook from the wound.
Mr. Ed & Waylon's Guide To...
Need a taxidermist?
Click here or the pictures to review the work of a few...
THE CRAPPIE HOLE
726 AMICKS FERRY RD
CHAPIN, SC 29036
Hours: 8am-8pm M - F
Contact Johnny Loftis
Mobile Trailer Services
Wire a 24 vdc trolling motor
with (12 vdc) on-board charger...
Wire 2 or more batteries with switches...
Rods & Reels
On rods, I like the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Lite in a 7 1/2 ML action for down and cut in Murray. (Bass Pro has them on sale now for $39.) Shakespeare also makes a good lightweight baitcasting reel that will do for stripers, but does not hold up like the Ambassadors or Penns. While Ambassador reels hold more line than the Penn 9, 930 or 940,
I use Penns. I began with the Penn 9s. They cost less than the Ambassadors, will handle big fish and will be part of your estate when you pass on. I use Baitrunners on 7 foot rods for freelining and have a favorite FinNor spinning outfit for casting to schools.
I use Penn GTI 320s and 7 foot Shakespeare Tiger rods for pulling leadcore line and umbrellas, though I have started using Shakespeare Saltwater reels with line counters for my umbrella and downrigger reels this year. My wife will never understand why I have so many different striper outfits.
More On Rods & Reels...
You'll need several casting reels (revolving spool) with bait clickers for fishing live herring. Lots of striper anglers use the tried & true Ambassadeur (Garcia) 6500 C Series-style reels. They're excellent choices, but not built as well as in the "old days." Penn 940 models are rugged, and last a lifetime, but don't cast as well as some others. The old-style Penn #9 and #10 work well...but don't cast well either...but this doesn't stop them from being used in down-rodding with bait or for cut bait. Diawa's Millionaire Series and the Shimanos work well also. Shakespeare makes a 6500 C look alike that's a good starter reel...the SKP 4000 with one ball bearing. There are too many choices, but do get wide spool models holding around 300 yds of 12# test with a bait clicker. You don't need the high-end Calcutta-style machined aluminum reels to catch striped bass...but if you've got the bucks...go for it!
You'll want an open face spinning reel or two for casting light artificials and freelining baits into schools. Any good long cast spool model from the major manufacturers should work well. A good 7' light to medium light action spinning rod such as Shakespeare Ugly Stick Lite, Fenwick, Diawa, Penn or Shimano will be a good rod choice...however there are hundreds out there to choose from. I like a graphite composite fast taper for better "feel" in a spinning combo.
As for casting rods for the above conventional reels, Shakespeare makes a couple of excellent rods:
SPI 1176-1ML Shakespeare Ugly Stick Lite, 7 1/2 ft. for 6-15 # test (Cork Grips)
CAL 1100 Shakespeare Ugly Stick Lite 7 1/2 ft. ML Sigma (Hypalon foam grips)
These rods have light tip actions and good tapers for live bait fishing. Again, there are hundreds of rods from a host of makers to choose from...just look for the actions you want for your type of fishing. We do a lot of live bait/cut bait fishing here on Murray...and these rods fit the bill.
Effects of Weather?
The effects weather, including barometric pressure, have on fishing is a fascinating subject to me.
I have an Airguide "Fishing Barometer" that lists anything below 29.8 as the low pressure zone, designating poor fishing. Above 29.8 is the high pressure zone, designating average fishing. The zone between 29.8 and 30.2 is shown in green as the area for best fishing. This barometer also says that better fishing occurs when the barometer is rising than when it is falling.
A national basspro I know fishes shallow just before a front hits and deeper just after it passes through.
A local striper angler, whose ability to catch fish I greatly respect, says that stripers bite best when the barometer is steady or only slightly changing. My own experience tells me this is true.
One of the toughest times to catch stripers is as a cold front passes. The tournament I dread most is one in which a strong cold front is due just before or at Blastoff, with high winds and clear skies.
A day before, to a few hours before, a front hits, then a day to two days after it passes seem to produce better for me. Seems these two times are just before a strong BP change, and after the BP has rebounded and settled down a bit.
I named my boat Westwind because my Dad always swore that fish bit best on the West wind. "Wind from the West, fish bite best. Wind from the East, fish bite least." However, I recently heard a variation of this that ended, "Wind from the East, fish will Feast." Indeed, I have taken some very good stripers in summer during a strong Northeast wind. Maybe I should have named the boat the Leastwind or the Steady BP.
One thing is certain, the best time to fish is whenever you can get your lines in the water.
I have found a new sunscreen that is guaranteed not to kill live bait. I bought some and took it out to give it a test. Today I put it on my hand and immediately swirled my hand around my bait tank. After about 45 minutes and no lost bait I squirted it directly into my tank. An hour and a half later I had still not lost any bait and never did.
The product is called Smartshield and is available online at Smartshield.com. They have several types, be sure to get the one that says safe for live bait.
Try taking an old knee-high panty hose or some other fine-meshed bag, fill it partially with rice and tie it up or use a twist-tie or rubberband to seal it, then toss it in your tackle box. An alternative for those who store hooks in zip-lock bags, just add a tablespoon of rice to the bag before sealing. The rice absorbs moisture and helps reduce rust.
For larger hooks you've sharpened, especially if you fish in saltwater, try painting the bare metal point where the hooks were sharpened with permanent magic marker. The coating helps stop rust.
Recycling Fishing Line
Discarded, empty 2 liter soft drink bottle w/screw-on plastic cap
Variable-speed electric drill (battery-powered is preferable and safer)
(1) 1/4" x 2" threaded pan head bolt (1/4-20 thread is standard)
(1) 1/4" nut
(2) 1/4" flat washers
(2) 1/4" lock washers
Drill a 1/4" hole in center of bottle cap. Place a lockwasher, followed by a flat washer on the bolt and pass bolt through the hole in bottle cap. The pan head should be on the inside (threaded side) of the bottle cap. Place a flat washer, followed by a lock washer and the 1/4" nut. Tighten securely.
Screw the assembly onto the 2 liter bottle. Chuck the threaded bolt
protruding from the cap into the drill and tighten. Using a piece of tape, attach the fishing line from the reel you wish to empty perpendicular to the center of the bottle. Carefully and slowly wind the slack line around thebottle using your hand to guide the line onto the bottle evenly.
As you become familiar with winding the line, increase the speed of the drill until you reach a comfortable, safe wind speed. You will need to apply very slight drag pressure, using the reel's star drag or lever drag, to prevent the reel spool being emptied from over-running (bird-nesting).
With practice, you can empty 600-1000 yards of 30 pound to 80 pound test line from a large revolving spool offshore reel in a couple of minutes. Spinning and small revolving spool (casting) reels are easily emptied also...if emptying small reels, a 2-liter drink bottle will hold all the line from several reels at once.
Once the reel is emptied, secure the line in place and simply recycle the entire bottle, line and all. The plastic cap is the only weak link, and it's advisable to drill several at one time for spares just in case a cap breaks under pressure of winding line.
I just started striper fishing in Little Saluda about January of 2002. I didn't know then what free lines, down rods, lead core, umbrella rigs, planer boards, bait saver, rock salt, ice, foam kill, etc. had to do with striper fishing. I can't believe how much I've learned in a year. But still, every trip continues to be a learning experience for a rookie like me.
I'll ramble a little and tell you about what an experience Saturday's (November, 2002) MSC Tournament was! Fishing solo in a jon boat without a top in a cold November rain that fills up the back of your boat every couple hours gives you plenty of opportunity to make mistakes. I got to Acapulco at 6:55AM and everyone had already left the landing. It was my first trip to Acapulco, so naturally I didn't put the $2 in the mailbox and ended up getting the dreaded $5 parking ticket on my windshield.
As soon as I backed out from the dock I started seeing lots of fish, so I put out down rods and free lines and started slow trolling out from the landing. To myself I'm saying, "I wonder if those boats out in Rocky Creek are saying look at that dummy trolling way down that creek through all those crappie and perch!" But I felt better when I passed by Catchall trolling toward me down that same creek. Hey! Maybe those really are stripers! I trolled out and turned south on Rocky Creek and soon ended up close to Fogman and T-Bone.
It wasn't long until I had a free line hook up while trolling along the shore. I turned off my trolling motor and started fighting the fish on the lake side. I landed the fish and noticed the water was real shallow...about the same time my jon boat beached between two big ole root balls from two blown over trees. Fogman and T-Bone were instantly on the radio wanting to know what kind of tree fishing tactics I was using over there on the bank. I was hoping they would not notice my other three rods had gotten tangled up in those stumps. I thought I'd have to cut them free but finally got them untangled.
LESSON 1 FOR ROOKIES...especially if you're solo and near the shore, just keep trolling out toward open water while you fight a fish. And don't turn your back on the shore when the wind is blowing you that way!
By now the rain is coming pretty hard, so I decide to anchor up and use two down rods and a couple of cut bait rods. After another hour or so, Fog Man and T-Bone say they are moving on and will see me later. I have about 4 or 5 inches of rain water in the back of the boat, so I figure it's time to run up the lake, pull the plug, and drain it. I pull up, store all four rods and take off. I can't get but 9 mph out of that 15 hp Johnsonusually I get 19 or 20 mph. I thought, "Well I brought an extra battery and I got all this water in the boat, maybe it just won't plane out."
At any rate, I finally got it drained while running big circles out in the mouth of Rocky Creek. But my boat still won't run but 9 or 10 mph. I check the prop: no line, turns OK. It still won't run fast so I say, "Uh Oh! Better head back to the landing before this thang strands me out here." Heading out into Acapulco Creek, it finally dawned on me. I was dragging my 10 lb mushroom anchor all over the lake! So again, I am pulling up my anchor wondering what kind of idiot does this kind of thing and betting those guys on a nearby pontoon boat were getting a good laugh.
LESSON 2 FOR ROOKIES...if your boat will not run at peak speed...check and see if you are dragging an anchor around the lake.
I made other mistakes...stopping my trolling motor with free lines out while the wind was blowing...two times I wrapped lines around the trolling motor shaft when I started the motor back up! Please refer to LESSON 1 above.
I was glad to have an umbrella just so I could smoke occasional cigars underneath it. Fogman and T-Bone wanted to know if that was what I called an umbrella rig. Har, har, har! Later that day, I stuffed my umbrella handle in my jacket while I quickly grabbed a rod a fish was pulling down. A gust of wind snatched the umbrella out of my coat. I look over to see it's sitting upright on the lake like a tea cup and moving down river toward a cove at the same speed as the wind. I quickly roll up rods and leave them in their holders and take off after the umbrella with my gasoline motor. I use long leaders and see that they have bounced up off the water and tangled all my lines on both sides of the boat by the time I catch up with my umbrella. But still, an umbrella is a "must have" item for smoking a cigar in the rain in a jon boat!
LESSON 3 FOR ROOKIES...don't think stuffing the handle in your jacket will hold an umbrella in a rain storm.
Also, I was fishing the day before in Bear Creek. As I made a quick run up the left side of the creek near Isle of Pines, I ran aground way on out in what I thought was the channel! I had to push with my paddle for a while to get off of the bottom, scared I was going to have to call for Jon Boy's Sea Tow service.
FINAL LESSON LEARNED...set depth alarms and/or pay attention to depth on fish finders!
I hung in there and caught four fish in the tournament, but I kinda noticed at the weigh-in that all the points leaders were weighing in a lot bigger fish than mine. I guess that's why they are in the running for Angler of the Year. Knowing how to fish is one important step, but knowing where to fish apparently makes a real difference. I'm looking forward to one day having a self-bailing center console with a T-top or bimini, so y'all don't forget just how good you have it! All in all, it was a day to remember... Looking forward to the next tournament, too!
"Hooked on Striper Fishing Waylon"
Short Striking Stripers...
When stripers are short-striking your baits, try clipping this stinger rig to the line and embed the treble near the tail. Generally, the smaller the line and treble, the better. (I use 2 - 4 lb. test.)
Larry Thompson (Squall Line)
Cut Bait & Wait
To rig for cut bait, just use the same fishfinder rig as terminal tackle that is pictured above. Some anglers size up their hooks a notch, but that's not critical. What is critical is to anchor the boat front AND back and cinch the anchor rodes down tight to keep the boat as stationary as possible, even in wind and wakes. That way you can cast out as many rods as you dare fish without getting them hung on the bottom as the boat swings.
The next critical aspect is to chum...then chum some more. Picture a circle around your boat...and cast your rods a comfortable cast distance to the edge of this imaginary circle. Next, cut your chum up pretty small and chunk it out just inside this circle and even right under the boat. That way, the fish have to swim past your baited hooks to get to the chum...encouraging them to eat your baits.
Stripers are gluttons, so don't worry about chumming too heavy...but be reasonable. Don't chum as much as the 300 pounder eats at Shealy's BBQ.
Billy Flatbottom and others have even devised chum throwers...either a tennis or badmitton raquet or, my favorite, a large child's plastic bat with the end cut off at a slant a lot like a Hai Alai racquet. That way you can toss without so much spatter. Not a good idea to hit the wife or girl friend in the face with chum. Or your bigger fishing partner either!
The next critical step is to find the fish...and that takes practice. And give a cut bait spot more time than a live bait area. Some sit for hours waiting on that one bite from a lunker.
Tips...drop a live bait on a down rod under the boat...all that chum can make for some lively action right under the boat. Also a good idea to toss out a cork with a live bait if you can keep it from swimming into your cut bait lines.
Like Big John says...Cut Bait & Wait for the bigguns!
Figuring your transducer bottom coverage using your cone angle.
To figure out which cone would best suit your needs, use this formula to determine the area that a certain cone angle will cover.
1/2 of the cone angle x 3.14 divided by 180 = tangent. Tangent x depth x 2 = Diameter of cone in feet.
For example if you are in 60 feet of water, a 20 degree transducer will be viewing a section of the bottom approximately 19.8 feet in diameter. A 45 degree transducer in 60 feet of water will be viewing a section of the bottom approximately 47 feet in diameter.
Bad Fuel Gauge?
1. Most fuel gauges quit due to corroded wiring or wire terminals at the sending unit on the tank. Most of the time, the problem is corrosion on the wiring terminals that push or screw/bolt onto the sending unit's posts. Check that first. Just locate where the boat manufacturer allows access to the top of the tank and look for two wires, usually pink and black,
that attach to the circular sending unit assembly that fits into the tank with approximately 8 screws. Once located, check for corrosion and replace both of the terminals on the end of the wire with appropriate replacements if corrosion is noted. Don't forget to use a small wire brush or fine sandpaper to polish off any corrosion on the sending unit terminals also.
If that does not take care of it, you could have a bad sending unit or gauge or the power to the gauge could be bad (unlikely.)
2. To see if the gauge is ok, turn on the ignition switch, carefully watching the fuel meter pointer and you should notice a very slight pointer deflection. If you do, the wiring and meter are ok. If not...go to the sending unit, remove the wiring and short the two terminals together while watching the fuel gauge. You should see a deflection. If so, the sending unit is bad. If not, you have to trace out the wire to the gauge that applies power when the ignition is turned on to make sure the gauge has power applied properly. (Takes some knowlege here).
3. If the gauge seems ok, then the sending unit could be defective. Each of those 8 screws must be removed, very carefully to avoid stripping. Once they are out, scribe a reference point on the sending unit with a sharp nail, etc., scoring the sending unit plate and the tank so you can replace it in the exact same place so the screw holes line up. The screws have slight differences, and it can be a bear to realign if you have not done it before. Then lift or pry up the sending unit and remove it from the tank. Holding it upright, swing the float arm up and down to check it for sticking. You can try reattaching the wires after you work it a few times to see if it causes the meter to swing. If so, work it several more times & replace it in the hole. If not, and you've determined the gauge is bad, you can buy a replacement sending unit at Boaters World or West Marine. Take the existing unit, but a Tempo universal replacement should work. It helps to use a measuring stick or rule to determine tank depth to check that the replacement will fit. Replace and the gauge should work.
Blue Back Bait Co.
David Clyburn: 532-2725
George Preston: 5938 Macedonia Church Rd, Hwy 26, Prosperity;
Home: (803) 364-3534
Bait House: (803) 364-2004
Richard & Donna Hall
(803) 957-6548, 1757 N. Lake Drive, Lexington
Spinners Resort & Marina
101 Sandalwood Rd
More Knots . . .
(submitted by Sarah from New England)