SATURDAY NIGHT STRIPER FEVER
Submitted - 2005-08-11
By Brian Smith, fisheries biologist, Region 3/Durham
How did you spend your last Saturday night? At the movies or at home in front of the tube? Maybe you were out on a dance floor somewhere or at the local pub. If you're reading this, you're likely an angler, so I hardly need to remind you that Saturday night is a perfect time to head out fishing. This past weekend, I spoke with some striper fishermen who spent their Saturday night on the beach, fishing rods in hand, looking for big stripers. My equipment consisted of a measuring board, survey sheets, and a good attitude. Jessica Fisher from N.H. Fish and Game's Marine Division office and I were interviewing anglers as part of the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey. The next time you're faced with the tough decision of what to do with your Saturday night, go fishing! It is one of the most effective methods out there for catching huge stripers.
I think the anticipation of catching fish at night may be enhanced because, after all, it's dark. You just don't know what's out there or when a hit will happen. For years, I've heard stories about catching big stripers at night, and this year I am finally going to try it. This method takes advantage of the increased activity of stripers that occurs under the cover of darkness, when the sun is not beating down on the water and when they move more freely into shallow water. Midsummer can be a tough time for most striper anglers. Live bait can become scarce when blues and dogfish are around. In August, the fish have set up shop, as opposed to the roving schools of hungry migrants we all got spoiled catching in June. Different conditions call for a new approach, so go fishing in the dark!
NIGHTTIME IS THE RIGHT TIME
If you are new to the sport or this technique, as I am, there are volumes of information out there to get you started. A quick Internet search for night fishing stripers yielded several informative articles and a great list of books. I'll list some of the basics here, but, as I've said in the past, don't discount the tried-and-true information you can get from local bait and tackle shops.
New Hampshire offers a great coastline for shore fishing day or night. There are several beaches to explore for nighttime striper fishermen -- such as Jenness State Beach, North Hampton State Beach, Wallis Sands State Beach and neighboring rocks, Foss Beach, and North Beach in Hampton, to name a few. There are many turnouts along Route 1A between Portsmouth and Hampton that offer access to fishing opportunities as well.
Some of these areas will be very hard to fish at low tide, so be sure to consult a tide chart prior to fishing. Most of the sand beach sites will be fishable at any tide. As far as the fish are concerned, I've had anglers swear up and down that they only catch fish on a rising tide, and others that only fish on falling tides and so forth. Some people just fish when they have the time and don't even worry about it. I think the best advice I can give here is to experiment. I would use caution with blanket statements where tides are concerned. This is often a site- and technique-specific issue that only time and experience will give you a true appreciation for.
In terms of tackle, you'll want to have a surfcasting outfit of some description. There are many rods and reels that fit this bill, but in general you're looking at a rod somewhere between 7 and 10 feet long, with a reel that can hold about 200 yards of 20-lb. test line. This is a generic description that can be refined at a tackle shop based on any other fishing you may want to do. One rig to try consists of a lead slip sinker (1 to 4 oz depending on situation) rigged above a barrel swivel. On the other end of the swivel, tie a leader to a circle hook. Circle hooks are easy to use, because the fish usually hook themselves and they prevent gut-hooking, so they drastically reduce mortality of released fish. Let the fish run freely with your bait before you set the hook. With a circle hook, even when the fish swallows the bait, the hook will not catch in the gullet; it pulls out and catches in the lip and by design does not require a hard hook set. Finally, pick up some frozen
mackerel or herring to cut into chunks for bait. Replace your bait every twenty minutes or so to keep it fresh.
The best time of year for night fishing striped bass is right around the corner. Those big stripers will be gorging themselves on their way back south. What a perfect time to head out and enjoy a night of fishing! I hope to see you out there, good luck and good fishing.
This report was provided by NH Fish and Game Department in Concord, NH. Follow this link for more specific information on the reports or the area - http://wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/fishing.htm