Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: There's a reason striped bass are called 'rockfish'

By DICK PINNEY August 18. 2018 10:36PM

This is the time of year when the Dickster likes to concentrate his fishing on big stripers in the Great Bay tidal system.

We say this as we usually do not fish Great Bay itself but find that Little Bay and the upper Piscataqua River are where the largest concentrations of the larger stripers are to be found.

Why? Striped bass in a lot of areas are also called "rockfish," and that is for a good reason. The larger stripers usually do not form in big schools but spread out over the tidal water bottom, most often seeking some kind of cover to both hide in and to buffer the strength of the tide so as to not require burning up calories to stay in usually rocky coves to diffuse the tide.

Big stripers are mostly not in schools but in singles, pairs and small groups. Unless there are schools of baitfish that attract the larger stripers to come out of their hiding places, they will set up an "ambush" place where the tides or currents will allow them to let their prey come to them, saving a lot of the feeding striper's vitality and aggressiveness.

So if you want to catch some of those big stripers, you need to build a list of places in your mind where you have found these fish in the past, and put your fishing efforts into hitting these places along with trying to add new striper-holding spots to your list.

We (almost) never just go our and fish aimlessly for them. We target our drifts or short trolling lanes over places that in the past have produced some fish or that appear to be spots that a big striper would hold in.

We're going to reveal one of our most productive spots because it's large enough to support quite bit of fishing pressure and it is almost always swept by tides, both coming in and going out. That place is Fox Point in the Little Bay, upper Piscataqua River in the towns of Newington and Durham.

In those Fox Point tidal rips we've caught some monster stripers by just about any techniques we've used - trolling or drifting with either live or dead bait or trolling with artificials, of which we favor the pliable plastic, squid types of lures.

We fish them on leadcore line to keep them down into the striper zone and troll at a fairly fast speed, often working our rods with short jerks. We do not troll with our rods in rod holders in the Great Bay tidal waters because of the amount of debris in the water that needs to be removed from lures almost constantly. You're wasting your time if you don't tend to those lures and keep them clean! The same goes when trolling live or dead baitfish.

When you think of catching large stripers, you want to picture them as hiding behind some kind of structure or tidal cover. Fish for them as if you are deer hunting! And use short trolls or casts to cover suspected striper holding water and keep a memory of what tides and conditions you have found stripers, and fish those hard. But don't keep pounding the same location if you don't get action. Keep moving from suspected striper holding cover to others. If you don't get any action on a couple of good sweeps of your lure or bait, move to other locations. Don't waste your time by pounding on unproductive water!

Drop use an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and get out there and get you some!

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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Dick Pinney

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