Hybrid striped bass go by many nicknames (rockets, wipers, sunshines bass), but what anglers love most about this white bass/striped bass mixed breed are the pounding strikes and line-ripping runs. Hybrids will mercilessly punish herring and shiner schools and most times you can find them easily by watching for this near-surface feeding activity.
Once you find feeding fish, give one of these tried-and-true tactics a try:
1. Troll Herring
Striper guru Chris Lido employs a four-rod trolling spread in his home waters of Spruce Run Reservoir, New Jersey.
“Start with 20-pound braided line for your main line,” he says. “Then, tie on a small 40-pound Spro barrel swivel, a 24-inch piece of 15-pound fluorocarbon leader and a size #2 to #4 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. I flat line two rods off the stern using no weight. I fish two other rods mid-ship out of rocket launchers. They are rigged similarly except for a 1-ounce bank sinker attached ahead of the swivels.”
Lido hooks herring through the nose and slow trolls the flat lines about 20 yards behind the boat. The two midship rods are trolled roughly 10 to 15 feet down.
2. Take Them on Top
If fish are feeding aggressively and pushing herring schools to the surface, try tossing topwaters like Zara Spooks or Heddon Top Dogs to ignite a strike.
“Cast to the outskirts of the bait schools and pop the lure back with an erratic action,” says Lido. ”If you mark fish down deep 15 to 20 feet on the fishfinder screen, poppers will bring them to the surface.”
3. Slip Them a Float
Sometimes, sitting and waiting is the way to go. Rig a slip bobber set roughly 5 to 10 feet up from the hook and bait with a live herring or a clump of chicken livers.
“The key to bringing them in is to chum the area heavily with chicken livers,” says Lido. “Watch the float dunk under the surface, give him a 3 count then set the hook.” Keep your drags loose enough to let them run but tight enough to stick it to get a firm hook set.