by Capt Clay Cunningham
After a great topwater month this November, look for the winter patterns to now fall into place. The bait is now beginning to move into the creeks and the stripers are following them. Live bait will be hard to beat in December. The baitfish are now moving into the creeks in very large schools. Some of these schools are absolutely massive. On and off throughout the day the stripers will move through this bait and feast. You want to be waiting on the stripers with the traditional downline with blueback herring and rainbow trout. Hard to say which will be best this year. Every year is different.
You will need the same setup for both of these baits, but you will need different size weights and hooks. Spool up a Penn Squall 20 reel with fifteen pound Trilene Big Game clear line paired with a Shakespeare striper rod. You can use this setup year round for stripers. Tie a Carolina rig on the end with a Capt. Mack 2 ounce swivel sinker and 5 foot leader of 12 pound Trilene 100% Flourocarbon and a Gamakatsu 3/0 octopus hook. If the trout are smaller, go with the 1/0 or 2/0 Gamakatsu Light Wire Octopus hook. On the herring, use the smaller 1 ounce Capt. Mack swivel sinker. Also, on the herring use a smaller size 1 Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gap hook and 12 pound Trilene 100 % Flourocarbon.
If you want to catch these fish on artificials, the spoon is a great choice. Tie on a Capt. Mack Super Spoon and drop the spoon to the bottom and work it in a yo-yo type motion. Most of the bites will be on the fall of the spoon.
To find where these deep pods of bait are located, first look for any birds. The birds always narrow your search. Now that you are in the right area, the proper electronics are crucial. On the Humminbird Onix, you can see these huge pods of bait and even see your bait swimming around on the hook. During the winter, do not be afraid to fish in the middle of the day. Many times in the winter the best fishing is during the warmest part of the day. It’s a win all the way around. See you on the water.