The Peanut Bunker Boom – On The Water

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August begins a transitionary time for striped bass alongside the Massachusetts coast. The place the early a part of the summer season is concentrated round discovering bass on bigger bait (menhaden, mackerel, squid, herring) August ushers within the age of the peanut bunker.

The excellent news is that for those who discover stripers on stated bait, they’ll be consuming. In August, solely a small share of the young-of-year peanut bunker may have left their nurseries for the open ocean. This creates a striper-to-bait ratio that’s within the angler’s favor. Because the late summer season and fall progresses, small bait will turn out to be far more ample, generally making a difficult chunk for the angler throwing lures to bass.

Discovering the bait is commonly extra vital than fishing good construction as soon as peanut bunker colleges present up. Photograph by Joey Manansala

As a ship angler, bites could be feast or famine. A lot of your success in August will journey on discovering bait concentrations. That is the place an excellent pair of binoculars generally is a journey saver. Should you discover the birds, you’ll discover the bait, and subsequently, the bass (or blues, or bonito). In August, particularly by the center of the month, I throw my listing of honey holes out of the window. Striper fishing in August alongside the New England coast, particularly in Cape Cod Bay and areas North, can usually resemble albie fishing. The run-and-gun approach most frequently related to searching for out tunoids will show to be a useful approach for hooking up on fast-paced colleges of stripers. Because of this, this listing of prime August lures focuses on choices that forged nicely and canopy the whole lot of the water column.

fins up striper
In August, solely a small share of the peanut bunker have left their nurseries for the open ocean. Should you discover them, chances are high good that stripers will probably be on them. Photograph by Billy Mitchell

Albie Snax

The unweighted Albie Snax softbait is the “do-it-all” lure within the arsenal. It’s so prevalent in my day-to-day fishing that I’ve three complete sort out trays on the boat devoted to those lures. The place you’ll wrestle to forged different unweighted smooth plastic baits, the heavier materials used within the Albie Snax lets you forged it virtually so far as smooth plastics on jigheads. The important thing to getting an excellent forged with the Albie Snax is your rod and line setup. A medium- or medium-light rod with a quick motion, 20-pound braid, and 15-pound fluorocarbon chief will flip the Albie Snax right into a missile within the fingers of a reliable caster.

Albie Snax with VMC swimbait hook
Albie Snax
with VMC swimbait hook

The effectiveness of this lure is easy. Its sluggish sink price and “wiggle” makes it a particularly efficient and pure imitator of a lifeless or wounded baitfish. Because of this, casting into the center of the feed and letting it sink with the occasional rod twitch will usually draw strikes from the bigger bass ready beneath. If I don’t have a strike on the drop, I’ll start a sluggish retrieve with occasional pauses. The Albie Snax is an extremely versatile lure. You possibly can even fish it topwater in the identical method you’d fish a spook plug. Bone, amber, or bubblegum all discover their locations on rods on the boat. We rig our Albie Snax with VMC swimbait hooks on the twistlock screw.

topwater striped bass
Topwater lures shine throughout dawn. Photograph by Billy Mitchell

Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow

There may be simply one thing concerning the Insurgent Jumpin’ Minnow that drives bass loopy. Whereas it’s usually seen as a schoolie killer, massive bass will hit a correctly walked Jumpin’ Minnow with reckless abandon. Final August, we have been throwing Jumpin’ Minnows right into a shallow, rocky cove the place the bass had pinned a faculty of peanut bunker. We have been selecting away at low slot fish when all of a sudden, we noticed an enormous boil and heard the scream of a drag. The bass measured 42 inches and had bent out the entrance inline hook. Fortunately, the again hook held true.

Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow
Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow

The Jumpin’ Minnow works finest on a straight walk-the-dog type retrieve. Hold it transferring with fast, brief rod twitches. You will have to mess around with hook sorts and sizes for those who’re altering out the inventory hooks. Should you discover that it’s going sub-surface on the retrieve, take away one of many hooks or change out to a smaller set of hooks. The Jumpin’ Minnow does its finest work when it’s using excessive. I favor the bone coloration, and the stripers do too.

Bill Hurley Sandeel
Invoice Hurley Sandeel

Bill Hurley Sand Eel

The Invoice Hurley Sand Eel is one other extremely versatile lure, but it surely particularly shines when bass are holding deep, both consuming sand eels or resting earlier than their subsequent feeding. In these eventualities, relying on depth, I’ll both drop the jig straight down or forged it off the again of the boat. Vertical jigging solely appears to work when bass are holding greater than 40 ft down within the water column. Most frequently, bass will hit the jig on the drop. Generally, a sluggish rod elevate will probably be wanted to get them to commit. The extra conventional “quick jig” appears to work finest once they’re actively feeding on sand eels. This method entails speedy raises and twitches of the rod tip whereas slowly reeling in slack line.

striped bass caught on Bill Hurley Sandeel
The Bill Hurley Sandeel is a versatile lure that can be very effective when the bass are holding deep.

The hydro-dynamic head form of this lure permits it to sink and get into the feeding zone shortly. This implies you should use a lighter jig-head in comparison with different comparable lures. Casting the Hurley Sand Eel right into a feed and utilizing a straight retrieve can be lethal. The skinny “rat-tail” smooth bait portion has a refined, built-in motion with out having to twitch the rod.

Guppy Jobo Jr.

Whereas most attribute the Guppy pencil poppers to Canal fishing, they are often extraordinarily efficient fished from the boat as nicely. Lengthy casting is simply as vital from the boat as it’s on the Canal for those who’re chasing fast-moving colleges of stripers and bluefish below birds. That is very true when the faculties get spooky below grease calm situations and excessive solar. With the correct rod setup, you possibly can forged these plugs into the following county.

Guppy Jobo Jr.
Guppy Jobo Jr.

The important thing to getting bit when stripers are on inch-long baitfish is both matching the bait precisely or stepping into the exact opposite course—and a loud thrashing pencil popper is a wonderful method of stepping into the wrong way. I prefer to work the Guppy Jobo Jr with quick rod twitches and occasional pauses.

striped bass
Overlaying floor and discovering the birds are sometimes the keys to success in August.

Hogy Pro Tail

An distinctive casting lure with a refined swimbait motion, the 1-ounce Professional Tail will usually catch when different lures received’t get a sniff. Its pure swimming motion additionally makes it a perfect search bait if you discover a faculty of peanut bunker. The Professional Tail’s extraordinarily small physique together with its heavy weight make it a real winner when in comparison with different, lighter swimbaits. The place different smooth plastic swimbaits and shads have a built-in exaggerated roll and heavy tail vibration, the Hogy Protail swims, nicely, precisely like a peanut bunker.

Hogy Pro Tail
Hogy Pro Tail

A straight retrieve by way of a faculty of feeding fish will probably be your finest wager in getting stripers to eat. However once they get finicky, permitting the lure to drop and utilizing massive exaggerated rod lifts and reeling within the slack is a lethal approach. The final approach to attempt is to burn it throughout the floor after which letting it sink for 5-seconds. Repeat till a striper eats it.





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