Choosing artificial baits for catching striped or hybrid striped bass is not difficult. The harder choice is choosing when to use them. If they don’t work, you may lose confidence in the bait. The best advice is to learn certain feeding patterns different times of the year and put your best foot forward. Many times, the finicky bite of the striped bass can best be satisfied with live bait. Other times live bait may slow you down.
I generally will have live bait on board my boat most of the year. Once the water temperatures fall below 60 degrees, the artificial presentations generally out fish live bait on most days.
Selection of baits depends on the size of the fish and the size of the baitfish and the time of the year. You may have to downsize in the winter or during a finicky bite. Remember to use light colors on sunny days and darker colors on overcast days. Chartreuse is probably the favorite color used in soft plastics, hard baits and on jigging spoons/slabs on our local reservoirs.
So when can you use artificials and when are they the most effective? The easiest choice is probably when the fish are feeding on top. Tossing a spook, redfin, chug-bug, pop-rs, sassy shad or a bucktail jig through the feeding fish can bring some exciting strikes. Spinner type baits can be deadly as well. You might have to experiment with size and color at times. Shad or chartreuse colors as I mentioned early are good choices. Striped bass top water action is generally best known as a fall and spring type event, but it can happen any time of the year.
If you locate a school of fish feeding on the bottom with your electronics, a heavy jig or slab may be a good choice. I like to use heavy slabs jigged vertically off the bottom. In the warmer months, violent jigging may entice the bite, in the winter a small bounce off the bottom with a smaller slab is deadly. My favorite colors for slabs or spoons are chrome, white, chartreuse or the combination of the three. If you find this bottom feeding scenario in the winter, which is common, use a soft plastic jerk bait on a heavy jig and hold it at the desired depth. Experiment with movement depending on the water temperature. At real cold temperatures (around 50 degrees) don’t move the bait at all. This is called “dead sticking” and it is an extremely effective method for catching striped bass, sandbass and crappie.
Deep diving potbellied crankbaits can be an excellent choice for black bass or striped bass. In summer, an effective pattern is to drag these baits allowing them to bump bottom or structure on or near a feeding area. The bottom bumping draws the active fish in. My favorite crankbaits include the Fat Free Shad, Norman DD22s, Rapalas and Long As. I like a shad or chartreuse color again on these baits as well, with a little red on the belly.
Downrigging bucktail jigs with worm trailers in the summer are an effective way to cover a lot of water to find active fish. Umbrella rigs with many different jigs are another effective way to mimic a school of bait. A Hellbender with a petspoon trailer is also effective for sandbass and striped bass suspended in the summer.
The best advice for using artificial baits is to try to find active fish. The birds will be returning this fall to our area lakes and should help you locate active fish. Don’t forget that live bait is a proven choice among striped bass anglers across the nation and can be hard to beat when the artificial patterns seem a little slow.
HOOD COUNTY FISHING REPORT
Water temperatures are in the middle to upper 80s. Granbury water levels continue to fall slowly and are about 2 feet down. Thermocline is still present and is around 20 feet down. Granbury striped bass fishing continues to be good to excellent to 10 lbs. on live shad and downrigged jigs and crankbaits. The best striped bass action is near Decordova subdivision to Blue Water Shores. Crappie action on brush piles and submerged timber are good on small minnows and jigs worked about 15 feet down. Sandbass action near the Shores and Indian Harbor are good on spinners and slabs. Look for surface schooling activity. Largemouth bass continues to be good on crankbaits early and soft plastics later on. Best largemouth action is near creek entrances and near deeper docks. Catfish action continues to be good as well with the best action in the evening on cut bait. Some large blue cats to 15 lbs. are being taken.
On other reservoirs, Whitney striped bass limits continue on live bait fished in 30 feet of water from Mccown Valley to the Island. Striped bass are schooling on top near the Whitney State Park on occasion. Possum Kingdom striped bass to 13 lbs. are excellent on live bait and downrigged presentations from Hells Gate to the dam. Benbrook big crappie limits are common on small minnows and jigs.
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