Pro Talk: Sight Casting Lower Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass
15 Minutes With Capt. Kevin Josenhans
What We Learned…
Location: Chesapeake Bay Virginia
Tides: Ebb tide is best as stripers are moving off the shallow flats. This concentrates the schools into very specific fish “highways,” making them easier to locate.
Approach: Sight-casting to fast moving schools of jumbo stripers in skinny, clear water requires a keen eye and deft boat handling skills. Once a school is sighted, anticipate the direction of travel and attempt to intercept the school so as not to spook them. While we find that slowly motoring a large four-stroke outboard toward the stripers will not usually scare the fish, it will push the school making it difficult to get off a productive cast. It’s best to get ahead of the fish and lob an unweighted Hogy 10″ Original toward the head of the pack. Oftentimes, strikes are instantaneous, as the smack of the bait hitting the water causes a massive blow-up!
Rigging Selection: These are big, post spawn striped bass of 40″ to 50″. They can take an inferior hook and bend it like a pretzel. The Hogy® Barbarian Swimbait Hook 3X in 10/0 Unweighted is the rigging of choice. The screw-in bait keeper allows the Hogy® Original 10″ to lie in a natural position allowing for a more lifelike retrieve. The unweighted hook allows for the soft plastic to hover in front of the cruising stripers instead of dropping out of the strike zone. Try the 6/0 Swimbait Hooks with the Skinny for times when a lighter presentation is needed. The Hogy® Barbarian Weighted Swimbait Hook might be necessary in times of high winds or fast current to allow you to keep the lure down in front of the moving stripers.
Bait Selection: The Hogy® 10″ Original Series Soft Bait
Why this bait? The walk-the-dog action of the Hogy® Original and Skinny triggers a predatory strike reaction in the sometimes finicky stripers. These big post spawn striped bass are on their way north to their summer homes along the New England coast and are sometimes in too much of a rush to feed. The tantalizing action of the Hogy® Original and Skinny will trigger a strike response like nothing else can.
Colors: Bone is by far the top producer as the lighter color best imitates the color of local bunker. In addition, we are often casting in bright sunlight and the lighter color will usually outperform the darker shades. Black would be a fallback color should the water become riled from strong current or wind, and in low light conditions.
Retrieve: Cast the Hogy® Original 10″ in front of the moving school of stripers and allow it to settle a second or two. It will usually sink just below the surface on the unweighted Barbarian Hook, which should place it right in the line of sight of the approaching stripers. Give the soft bait several short, sharp twitches with a slight pause in between each jerk of the rod tip. If this doesn’t draw an immediate strike commence with a walk-the-dog retrieve, using the same twitch-pause-twitch motion of the rod tip. The eel-like action of the Original is often irresistible to a huge striper.
On occasion, the Hogy® Original will pop out of the water if the retrieve speed is increased and this will sometimes result in a huge top water explosion. If a fish is observed following, try speeding up the retrieve. This often triggers a predatory response in the striper, thus resulting in an immediate hookup.
There are many times when casting the Hogy® Original or Skinny smack dab in the middle of the school is the best way to draw a rapid and aggressive strike. Regardless of the presentation, a firm hook set, consisting of several short, sideways jabs of the rod are necessary to firmly embed the point of the hook into the tough mouth of a big striper.
Rod: 7′ Fast Action G. Loomis Pro Blue Series Med-Heavy spinning rod
Reel: Shimano Stradic FG 4000 or 5000
Line: 30-pound test Power Pro Slick
Leader: 40-pound test mono leader, tied to braid with a double uni knot. Use a non-slip loop knot tying your leader to the hook.