We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. George Hughes to discuss nighttime tactics for targeting striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. Here's what we learned...
When the nights start to warm up in late spring I like to target stripers staging in rips over structure in the Chesapeake Bay. These post spawn fish are hungry and readily available throughout the early summer months. I find that these late spring stripers are ready and willing to eat a 10 – 14″ Original or the HDUV Jiggin' Eel Tail rigged various ways.
Location: Lower Chesapeake Bay
Tides: Either side of the tide. Moving water is key.
Approach: Positioning of your boat is key to targeting these fish and getting the right presentation for a night full of screaming drag. Move over the structure and watch your fish finder using a slow drift to mark the fish. Once you have located the fish, anchor up current of the structure and beyond the fish so that when casting, your lure swings into the fish. I find the speed of the current has a lot to do with where the fish will stage on the structure and how far up in the water column they will be. As the water warms, you will also find these fish are more likely to feed during an incoming tide when the cooler ocean water makes these fish more active.
Rigging Selection: Various weights of the Hogy Barbarian Jig Heads
Bait Selection: The Hogy 10inch and 14inch Original
Why this bait? These stripers are actively feeding and I find that these late spring stripers are ready and willing to eat a 10 – 14″ Original or an HDUV Jiggn' Eel Tail rigged various ways.
Colors: Black, Bone, Blamber
Retrieve: This is where having several different weights and styles of jig heads comes into play. I like having .5 to 3-ounce jigs with up to 10/0 2x strong Barbarian heads onboard so that I can target different depths based on how fast the current is moving. In a ripping current I will use the heaviest jig heads and then work my way up to lighter jig heads as the current subsides. One indication that the current has slowed down will be your Hogy hanging up in the rocks. This is where having plenty of jigs and Hogys will help make sure you have a productive night. Once this starts to happen I will switch to a lighter head to put me back in the strike zone or go to a heavier jig head if the current is increasing. As far as Hogys go, I like using a 10 – 14″ Original or Jiggni' Eel in darker colors. When working the Hogy you want to cast up current and swing the Hogy up and over the structure. The stripers will be staged just over or behind the structure in the rip or eddies. When working the Hogy, I like to give it a twitch and then drift and then twitch again. The strike is normally pretty aggressive, but if you feel like the Hogy is getting lighter (you feel like you lost contact with the Hogy) come tight and set the hook. If nothing is there just drop the lure back and continue the drift.
Rod: Shimano Teremar 7’6″ Heavy Casting Rod
Reel: Shimano Curado E Series
Line: 60lb Power Pro Braid
Leader: 20lb Yozuri Fluorocabron