Bait and Bait Rigs For Stripers

Live Bait and Bait Rigs To Use When Fishing For Striped Bass.

Use of Live Bait and Transportation of live bait Laws in Arkansas Effective October 1st 2018.
Always check your states laws on the use of live bait.

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.

Live Bait for StripersShad 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 Brood Minnows 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 plus striper.

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 with a 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.

Live Bait Rigs For Stripers


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:

Cast net.

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 necessary.
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.

Bait Tank

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 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."

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