Summer Fishing

How to Catch Striped Bass in the Summer

no-image

It seems like this summer just came out of nowhere, if I’m being honest. It seems like yesterday I was wearing my hoodie and chasing prespawn bass and now I’m loading my boat with dozens of cold water bottles and sweat rags for a simple afternoon fishing trip. Where has the time gone?

We’re not the only ones this hot weather is affecting, however. With water temperatures constantly on the rise, the bass fishing action can get pretty darn tough this time of year. They’re becoming more lethargic by the day and to make things even more difficult, they’ve been pressured throughout the entire spring and are becoming increasingly suspicious of our offerings.

This is exactly when I make a major shift in my fishing each year. Sure, I’ll still bass fish in the early mornings and evenings; you can’t take that out of my blood. But in the heat of the day when the bass slow down, you can find me floating somewhere in the middle of the lake targeting big striped bass and hybrid bass—we call ’em “linesides” in my neck of the woods.

I know it’s not bass fishing, but hear me out on this one. Not only are you going to have an absolute blast, but I guarantee this lineside fishing will make you a much better bass angler in the long run. Hang with me and I’ll explain exactly how to get started.

(1 of 4)

Where to start the search

You can probably find linesides in all kinds of different places right now, but I’ve been keeping it remarkably simple and enjoying solid results. Spend some time looking at the maps for your local lake and find as many offshore humps as you possibly can. They’re going to look somewhat similar to the screenshot above this paragraph. They don’t have to be identical because every fishery is different, but you get my drift.

I tend to have the best luck when the tops of the humps are in 25 to 30 feet of water. This can certainly change depending on your geographic location and water clarity, but this particular depth range is a solid starting point. If you can find one of these humps adjacent to a creek or river channel, it’s even better because it can act like a rest stop on a highway. As these pelagic linesides travel using these deeper channels, they can pull off the proverbial highway and feed on these humps before moving on.

Once you identify several different humps, be prepared to stare at your graphs for a good while. I wish I could come up with some magic solution to avoid all of this screen time, but I can’t. It’s going to take time behind the wheel to find the motherlode but it’s important to remember that it will teach you a bunch about your electronics. Whatever you do, be patient when you start learning this pattern. I promise it will pay off in the end. 

(2 of 4)

What in the world am I looking for on my screen?

That’s was my first question when one of my buddies, Billy Benedetti, introduced me to this pattern and technique years ago. I went with him in his boat a time or two and it seemed easy enough, but once I got by myself in my own boat it was a little overwhelming. I’d spend hours dropping on anything that might remotely resemble and fish and before I knew it, I had wasted the whole dang afternoon. I’d call Billy and ask him what I was doing wrong and his advice was simple.

“You’ll know when you find ’em,” he said. “There will be absolutely no question in your mind. Don’t get caught up in chasing single fish.”

That advice actually helped me a lot. Until I saw an essential biomass of fish on my screen, I wasn’t stopping the boat. After a few trips, I learned how right Billy was. So I’ll tell you guys the same exact thing: When you’re graphing these humps, you’ll no when you find ’em. There will be absolutely no doubt in your mind.

What works best for me is zigzagging over the top of each hump. Some days they’ll be on the steeper side of the hump and others they’ll be on the more gradually sloping side. It changes every day and sometimes even every hour, so this zigzag pattern allows me to check the entire hump efficiently.

When you run across a school of fish on these humps, it’s going to look like spaghetti on your screen. Again, there won’t be a doubt in your mind. You’re going to notice large, streaking arches which indicate actively feeding linesides underneath your boat. When you see this, you better put your big boy shoes on. You’re fixing to get your arm broken, but in the best way possible.

(3 of 4)

So you found ’em. What next?

You’re going to think I’m exaggerating when I say this, but I’d bet you a house payment I’m telling the honest truth. When you run across these pods of linesides, they can be absolutely enormous. It is not uncommon to mark them for up to 60 yards at idle speed. It’s also very common for you graph to start showing a false bottom while you’re on top of them. In other words, your boat is sitting in 30 feet of water but your graph will read 8 feet. That’s because the other 22 feet of the water column is slap-full of a biomass of stripers and hybrids.

When you first start seeing the “spaghetti” on your screen, go ahead and grab your marker buoy and have it untangled and ready, but don’t toss it just yet. Continue idling in the same direction and the second the activity disappears on your screen, toss your buoy over your shoulder. I throw mine over my right shoulder because my transducer is mounted on the starboard side of my hull. This gives me a visual landmark of exactly where the school is located. I’m sure some of you can do this with a simple waypoint, but I’m a visual guy when it comes to this. I just prefer marker buoys.

After I chuck that buoy behind me, I’ll put my boat downwind or down-current of the buoy. This helps me control my boat easier and make a more accurate vertical presentation with my spoon. With my trolling motor deployed, I’ll creep towards the buoy and keep my eyes glued to my bow-mounted electronics because it’s only a matter of time before the spaghetti shows up.

Once the mayhem breaks loose on my screen, I drop my spoon. I will not make a drop until my graphs start showing activity. This is important, because you can go down the rabbit hole and waste a bunch of time by losing patience and chasing singles.

(4 of 4)

What in the world am I looking for on my screen?

That’s was my first question when one of my buddies, Billy Benedetti, introduced me to this pattern and technique years ago. I went with him in his boat a time or two and it seemed easy enough, but once I got by myself in my own boat it was a little overwhelming. I’d spend hours dropping on anything that might remotely resemble and fish and before I knew it, I had wasted the whole dang afternoon. I’d call Billy and ask him what I was doing wrong and his advice was simple.

“You’ll know when you find ’em,” he said. “There will be absolutely no question in your mind. Don’t get caught up in chasing single fish.”

That advice actually helped me a lot. Until I saw an essential biomass of fish on my screen, I wasn’t stopping the boat. After a few trips, I learned how right Billy was. So I’ll tell you guys the same exact thing: When you’re graphing these humps, you’ll no when you find ’em. There will be absolutely no doubt in your mind.

What works best for me is zigzagging over the top of each hump. Some days they’ll be on the steeper side of the hump and others they’ll be on the more gradually sloping side. It changes every day and sometimes even every hour, so this zigzag pattern allows me to check the entire hump efficiently.

When you run across a school of fish on these humps, it’s going to look like spaghetti on your screen. Again, there won’t be a doubt in your mind. You’re going to notice large, streaking arches which indicate actively feeding linesides underneath your boat. When you see this, you better put your big boy shoes on. You’re fixing to get your arm broken, but in the best way possible.