Live Bait and Bait Rigs To Use When Fishing For Striped Bass
Live bait fishing for Stripers in Arkansas is the most accepted way to
continuously catch Stripers.
The methods used vary according to the way the fish are feeding and time of year.
are the predominant live bait used for striper fishing in Arkansas. They have gained a reputation as the most reliable live baits for trophy striped
bass. Golden Shiners and
and Bream are also used
at certain times during the year.
You must have a good boat bait tank.
Below are some of the live bait fishing methods used.
The size of shad used is 3 to 15 inches depending on time of year and conditions.
I will use
12 inch and above shad during February, March and April looking for that once in a life time 40 - 60 pound
Of course the easiest way to obtain your shad is to buy them, Unfortunately places that sell them are few to none, which leaves you the choice of catching your own or going
Striped Bass Guide.
(the easiest of all choices and a great way to start Striper Fishing ).
If you decide to try and catch your own shad, mouth of creeks, back pockets,
shallows along side main channels in lakes and below below dams in rivers
are likely areas
to locate schools of baitfish. Watch for the tell tale sign of flipping
shad to locate schools.
Use a cast net to catch enough shad for a day of fishing. Once caught, you must keep them alive and frisky in a
circular, insulated, aerated bait
tank (Best) . If your bait isn't active, it will not be
as appealing to the stripers. Keeping shad alive is another subject and the reason you have a very hard time finding
them at bait shops.
Main types of baitfish for catching striped bass in Arkansas.
Down Lining: (Weight Rigs)
This is probably the most common rig used for fishing with live bait. My rigs consist of, a
1/4 to 3oz. slip-sinker threaded onto my line, then a glass or brass bead. Then I tie on a
heavy-duty barrel swivel. To the other end of the swivel I tie on a 3 to 6 foot leader. I
hook on the best looking gizzard or threadfin shad I have and lower to the desired depth.
Reels with line counters are good reels to use, note the depth the
stripers are located on your fish finder and lower your shad to just above the fish.
Stripers tend to feed up. I fish several rods from my boat at varied depths until I
determine the stripers strike zone. Then I will move most of them to that general depth. I
leave at least 1 rod deeper than the rest, because sometimes the bigger stripers have a
tendency to hang out below the main schools of stripers
Float Rigs: (Ballooning)
Start by sliding a barrel weight on your line from 1/4oz to 3oz
tie on a swivel with about 4-6 feet of leader, the weight and hook size will
depend on the time of year and size of Striper and size of the bait.
Also at times you can have no weight below a float,
In the cooler weather months or cooler water below dams, stripers tend to feed
closer to the
surface. This is when you need to hold your live bait rigs shallower.
When trolling balloons you can adjust to the depth you want the bait to be
running by pulling out that amount of line before you tie the balloon on.
For Example on your depth finder you see fish active in the 25 foot range.
You pull 25 feet of line off your spool using your rod as a guide and tie
your balloon on then feed the line out behind the boat as your trolling.
You can use a bobber, at least 1 inch in diameter, but I prefer the
balloon. The balloon floats on top of the water better, therefore creating less
resistance, and not tiring out the shad as fast. You can also use different color
balloons, to tell your lines apart or bright color balloons to see your lines better from
a distance. Put your first bait out around 40-60 yards behind the boat and stager the others
at 10 to 20 yard intervals, to prevent tangling. A neat floating devise is the corks with
lights in them the kids love them for night striper fishing.
Flat Lining: (A hook and the
Bait - As Simple as it comes, just let em swim.)
With nothing more than a hook on the end of the line, you attach the bait fish and let
"em" swim. You can learn to direct the way your bait swims by where you place the
hook-- the further toward the head they tend to swim down--- the further toward the tail
they tend to swim up. Use more of a swing when casting live bait as not to damage or pop
them off your hook with a little practice you will have no problem.
Some of the biggest stripers ever recorded were taken on cut bait fished on a
bottom rig. This method is similar to live bait fishing except that the boat is positioned
over a likely spot and moored with a bow and stern anchor. The second anchor keeps the
boat from swinging and tangling the fishing lines. Dead baits, such as shad or bream
are hooked to lines and cast around the boat. Baits are fished on the bottom while others
are suspended at various depths.
When available, live bait is used in conjunction with the
dead bait. The bait can be cut into various shapes or slashed to give off more scent.
Larger baits can be cut in half to make two baits. The head section will be used on one
line while the tail section is hooked to another.
Fresh dead bait will attract more fish than frozen bait. T.J. Williams uses this method regularly and catches a lot of stripers
as well as some very big catfish.
Equipment necessary for catching and keeping the proper bait for a days striper fishing is:
Larger is not necessarily better. When bait is scattered or scarce, a 6
foot radius cast net is the bare minimum.
With bait species that do not school tightly like herring, up to a 12 foot net is
With bait which can ball up very tightly like threadfin shad however, you may get away
with using only a 3 or 4 foot net.
You do not want to load a net
so heavy with shad to where they will damage themself.
Check your local cast net regulations, some areas
and / or states restrict net sizes.
Aerated, filtered round bait tank. (min 15 gal)
The tank can make or breaks a fishing trip.
Most cases, striper are looking for the most frantic, excited bait they can find.
A poor tank will certainly deny
you the quality bait necessary for catching striper.
Helpful Hints for a days striper fishing with a properly treated and
aerated bait tank:
Use salt to prevent slime loss. 3/4 - 1 cup per 20 gallons.
DO NOT overcrowd your bait tank.
A guide is to keep smaller bait (5" down) @ 1 for every gal.
For bait fish 5" to 9" 1 for every 2 gallons.
10" & above 1 for 3 gal
Cooler water keeps bait alive longer than warmer water....60 - 70 degrees preferred
IMPORTANT!! Don't change the temperature by more than 10 degrees from
the water the bait comes from....it WILL die.
Keep your filter cleaned out.
Minimize handling of bait and the time bait is out of the water.
Gently dip your bait from the tank and avoid violent swishing with bait net.
Please Practice Catch and Release when possible ....
And most of all Create Cherished Memories.
"There are many things in life that will catch your
eye, but only a few will catch your heart.....pursue those."