October Stripers

October Stripers

By Jared Wood


The fall run is in full swing, bass and bait are on the move. The shifting winds and shorter days have the bass on the feed. The fishing reports are not as reliable this month because a bite you are reading about has already happened and those fish have moved on. It is not like the summer months where those fish tend to stay in areas for extended periods of time. In October a bite can last minutes or days but you have to be on the water to find out.

This late in the season being mobile can lead to catching bass or getting skunked. Having multiple spots to slip in and out of to find the bass on their journey South is crucial. For instance planning a night of fishing I have a list of spots that I plan on hitting over the course of 6 hours. I pop into each spot planning on dedicating an hour to each location. Keeping my plug selection simple allows me to make the most of each spot. Carrying bucktails, darters, needlefish, danny, minnow plug, and soft plastics I can dissect the water column in my pursuit of finding bass. Have confidence in the plugs you are going to bring with you knowing they are going to match the variety of bait and you can effectively work them.

Choosing the locations to fish can sometimes be a difficult choice this month. You never know which striper will be the last of the season for you. Focusing effort on areas adjacent to river mouths and harbors are great starting points. All the juvenile baitfish are making a mass exodus out of the estuaries and rivers they matured in all summer. These areas are an all you can eat buffet for the bass. Finding the spots that trap the bait as they spill out onto the adjacent beach can lead to memorable nights of fishing. If the beaches adjacent to the harbor and river mouths are sand. Going for a long walk can be beneficial. Working your way down the beach picking apart all the soft structure and current seams. This can lead to finding fish that have followed the bait on their migration. Walking the beaches in October is comfortable because you are not sweating like you did all summer.

If walking a lot of miles on the shifting sands is not appetizing to you, working the jetties might be more beneficial to you. Jetties have a knack for holding bass using them as ambush points to trap the young of the year bait. The bass will use the current and the structure to their advantage to hold the bait in the pockets of the jetty. Having multiple jetties to fish can be a fun way to spend your evenings.

The boulder fields you have been fishing all summer still have a draw this time of year. Don’t write them off just yet. The bass that made their living in them all summer know where to find food in them. Some of the patterns you have found will still hold true in these areas. Boulder fields located next to river systems are great locations to target this month. The currents in boulder fields disorient bait allowing them to be easy picking for bass laying in wait.

The bass can be keyed in on one specific bait or it can be an assortment of bait in the surf this month. The bait can be peanut bunker, silversides, sand eels, juvenile herring, mackerel, adult bunker, or sea herring. Peanut Bunker fueled bites can be electrifying. They are doing everything in their power not to get eaten by throwing themselves out of the water and up onto the beach. Lures that best match peanut bunker are swim shads, Sebile stick shad 114, and larger profile metals. Silversides can be frustrating to get bass to commit to your offering. Thin metals like a deadly dick and smaller bucktails without a trailer are good matches. Juvenile herring will be dropping back from the rivers they spawned in and the bass will be waiting. Matching these small baitfish can be a daunting task but using small white bucktails and small soft

plastics on a jig head are very productive. Sand eels are one of the baits that really get me excited. They can take up residence for extended periods of time. There becomes a pattern when the sand eels take up residence allowing you to concentrate your efforts during certain tides. Needlefish, Ron Z’s, and thin metals are your best offerings.

The sand eels not only draw the stripers they bring in the mackerel. The macs feed on the sand eels and the bass feed on the macs. These candy bars of the surf fuel some amazing top water action. Packing a  few mackerel colored plugs during a sand eel bite is a good bet. Plugs to pack would be a pencil popper, darter, and swimming plugs.

Sea Herring is not a bait I rely on to make an appearance year after year. When the winds and tides push them inshore there tend to be really large striped bass on their heels. When this happens make the most of the opportunity presented to you. Burn a sick day or put off the yard work one more day. Pack your sea herring bag with pencils, darters, metal lips, bucktails, and a Hopkins metal. Colors to best match the herring would be white, blue and white, or silver.

The weather patterns this month can really fire up a bite. With the potential for a hurricane or tropical storm to make an appearance inshore or offshore it can be the catalyst to put the bass on a heavy feed. The days leading up to the storm the water gets bigger and rougher and the bass sense the pressure change. They go into binge feeding, striking anything that swims near. These storms upon arrival tend to scatter the bait. After the storms it takes the bass that decided to hang around a day or two to find them.

The later into the month you fish it seems more spots start to become a ghost town. The fish that were here yesterday are gone swimming further south. The beaches are becoming less crowded with fishermen who hung up their surf rod and hit the woods for hunting season. Get out and fish when you can and make the most of it because come dead of winter you will be thinking about striped bass.

Jared Wood is a surfcaster who fishes from Maine to Connecticut. Targeting Striped Bass, Bluefish, Albies, and Bonito in the surf. He can be found on Instagram as surfcaster_jared.  For any questions he can be reached at jaredwood25@gmail.com.

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