Frequently Asked Questions
he following questions and answers are the ones I get asked most often. They are not in any particular order so you will need to browse down the page to see if your question is listed. I have more to add so keep checking back occasionally. And By the Way, I don't have all the answers....
- Q: What is the telephone number for Island Beach State Park, NJ?
Park Headquarters 732-793-0506
Directions to IBSP NJ State Information for IBSP
List of Area Motels
On-Line Map of IBSP
- Q: What is the best tide to fish?
There is No best tide however most people and fish prefer the incoming and outgoing high tide. Generally this would be the period 90 minutes before and after high tide. However do not give up on Low tide especially if the currents are strong or the water is rough.
- Q: How important are currents?
Extremely important, some species of fish including striped bass prefer moving water which offers them some protection as well as baitfish and other food being swept along. Water movement is more important than tide and fish feeding activity will decline during periods of slack water. What is slack water? Read Slack Water Explained by Capt. Jim Freda.
- Q: What is the best time of day to fish?
Any time you can! The best hours are normally at first light (civil twilight) through sunrise and sundown through last light (civil twilight). Some species of fish, such as Striped Bass are nocturnal feeders so the very best time for fishing is during the evenings and full dark.
- Q: I haven't caught a really big striped bass yet, should I concentrate on bait fishing or fishing with plugs?
The 1982 world record striped bass was caught on a plug but Greg Myerson's IGFA World Record 81 lb 14 oz striped bass was caught on a live eel. A live eel is bait! I spend 70% of my time fishing with bait; live eels, live menhaden (bunker) are tops in the MidAtlantic region. After that comes bunker chunks, clams, crabs and blood worms. The vast majority of successful fishermen have caught their "trophies" on bait. Reference articles: Fishing with Eels, also see the Baitfishing section of the Contents page for several articles on various types of baitfishing including Menhaden (Bunker/Pogie).
- Q: Which lure do you think is the best for striped bass?
I consider the Finnish minnow design as my favorite and most consistent producer. The original Finnish minnow design was introduced by Rapala® but also included in this group are Bomber®, Mambo Minnows®, Rebel®, Red Fin® Yo-Zuri® and others. Each has little different action and runs at different depths. I primarily use Mambo Minnows and Yo-Zuri's because of their action, appearance, finish and higher quality (e,g,. hooks) but the biggest fish I ever caught was taken on a large Rebel® (on a beautiful summer day at Great Point on Nantucket Island).
Ninety percent of the time I use a teaser with these lures since my second largest bass and numerous large fish (40 - 49 pounds) went for the teaser. Be sure to read How to Rig a Red Gill and Teasers or you may lose a good fish.
My second "Go To" lures, the ones I have the most confidence in are wooden plugs such as a 3-˝ oz Danny Swimmer and a 2 oz Casting Swimmer. You have to use appropriate sized rod and reels with these lures, an 8 foot medium action rod isn't going to allow you to cast or work these lures properly. All wooden plugs work best when you have good currents and/or turbulent water and are my number one choice at night.
- Q: How do keep clams on the hook?
First please be sure to read the article, Fishing with Clams.
Everyone has a slightly different method but most often they are used on High Low Bait Rigs. The key question though is how to keep them on the hook. Some people only use baitholder hooks because they have two barbs on the hook shank, others prefer straight "J" Octopus hooks while most fishermen are switching over to In-Line Circle hooks. The method probably most used is to use elasticized bait holding thread or small rubber bands.
There is an excellent picture of a bass caught on a High Low Bait Rig using clams held on with the small rubber bands. The rig itself was made with Gamakatsu® Circle hooks and the photo clearly shows that not only do the rubber bands work well but exactly how circles hook the fish in the mouth. Go to High Low Rigs on our sister site TrophyRigs.com, be sure to click on the picture itself for a closeup view. By the way the picture comes from a friend in Massachusetts!
- Q: What are the best color lures to use for Striped Bass?
Everyone has their own preferences but the important thing is that your lure "stand out" so that it will attract the attention of a bass. Yellows, neon green (parrot), pearl white and gold's are the best overall colors for all hours except in the dead of night. During hours of full dark, black, purple or dark blue are better simply because they can be seen easier. I know it sounds crazy but its true. On the other hand, don't be afraid to "break the rules" I've caught bass in the middle of the night with a yellow over white popper.
- Q: What is a "Smokey Joe?
This is originally a name for a color combination attributed to Red Fin®. Click here for a picture, #40 is the classic Smokey Joe color/pattern.
- Q: What is a “School Bus” Bomber?
There are two versions available, the original as shown in this picture and a newer Flash version. This pattern is considered a "special" and is not available at the mega discount stores.
- Q: What is the most important factor in deciding what lure to use?
There are a thousand variables at any one time, wind, weather, surf, light, dark, water clarity etc. Ideally you should try to determine what baitfish the bass may be feeding on when you are fishing and select a lure that is similar in shape and size to that bait. If the bass are feeding on big Menhaden (Bunker) it doesn't make sense to be using a bucktail, I would use a BIG spoon or any large swimming plug, preferably in yellow or gold.
- Q: I have been striper fishing for “X” years and still haven't landed a big fish. What am I doing wrong?
I can't answer that without asking you a hundred questions however one key factor is luck and the second key factor is when you fish. I follow three rules which have always helped, whether plug casting or baitfishing:
- Fish in Moving Water, look for areas with good flows. Dead water is normally just that.
- Keep Moving, if there is nothing going on, Move On.
- Live bait is 1,000 times better than any other lure or fresh bait. Live eels are phenomenal.
Q: I can only afford one rod and reel, what size and type should I get?
There are a lot of different rods and reels available and prices vary widely. Buy your rod first, the best all around size is ten (10) feet. Look for a rod rated "Medium Action" capable of throwing lures from 1 to 4 ounces. The reel should "match" and balance with the rod. Probably the best size is the Penn Spinfisher® 6500 SS which weighs 22 ounces and holds 250 yards of 15 pound monofilament line or the less expensive Penn Spinfisher® 704Z which holds 275 yards of 20 pound line.
Q: I'm new and want to get a better rod and reel than my XXXmart special. Should I buy a conventional rod and reel or just get better spinning equipment?
That's a tough question, but I think the key issue for a new fisherman is learning about bass and how to catch them. Conventional tackle is not going to improve your fishing success dramatically and for a new fisherman could be the cause of a lot of "stress." I've been fishing for a very long time and I prefer spinning tackle for saltwater and conventional for freshwater. Just don't let yourself get trapped into the "Techno Tackle Groupie" part of surf fishing, the "experts" will drive you into total confusion.
Q: Which knot do you think is best?
My favorite is the Palomar because it is simple to tie, even in the dark and retains 100% of the line strength. My second choice is a clinch or Trilene® knot, it retains approximately 85% of the line strength. You can get more information and directions on knots on the Knot pages.
Q: What pound test line should I use?
The minimum for Monofilament is 20 pound test. If you have two rods and reels, one for lures and the other for bait fishing; spool 20 pound test on the rod for lures and at least 30 pound test on the bait rod. If you want to use the "Hi-Tech Braided" line the minimum I recommend is 50 pound test. Why? It's diameter is equivalent to only 12 pound monofilament which means it is very thin and harder to handle. Be aware that "Hi-Tech Braided" line can cut your finger(s) to the bone if you do not handle it carefully. Do not ever coil braided line around your hand when you are landing a fish, you will get cut! More information refer to: Baitfishing, Let's Get Serious
Q: How often should I change my line?
Line is not cheap but wouldn't you hate losing a big fish because you were cheap? I strip all the line from my reels at the end of the season and toss it so I will be forced to re-spool in the Spring. During the fishing season I will completely replace my line three or four times. You should strip off 5 to 10 feet of old line and replace all leaders before every trip and after (1) catching a BIG fish or (2) working around rocks. Eventually the line on your spool will "dwindle" from all this cutting back and you will have to re-spool.
Q: One of the things that really confuses me is that guys in my club insist that their way to fish or a certain lure/color is the only one to use. It never fails, I try the "sure fire" lure or method and get zilch. Is it me?
No, there are a few things going on, one is "experts", there are no experts. I can take a guy who has a reputation for always catching fish by his technique and put him in a different place which requires other techniques and he will be a failure because he is not adaptable. A good example is the Cape Cod Canal, on this body of water the majority of fishermen use either big heavy poppers or bucktails. Using only these two lures at Sandy Hook would doom you to failure.
Number Two: When they were successful was a point in Time; wind, weather, tide, light/dark, moon phase, current, a whole myriad of conditions and variations. Time does not repeat itself, only "conditions" are fleetingly repeatable.
Number Three, worth repeating, there are no experts and there is no perfect lure, if there was, the tackle industry would destroy it.
Q: Which place do you think is the number one area for striped bass surf fishing?
Two point answer:
1:Surf fishing: People will argue but I think the best overall place, for consistent success is Long Island, second place New Jersey. Years ago Cape Cod was number one but the area is now “infested” with over 300,000 gray seals which are protected by state law. The seals feed on the baitfish as well as every gamefish around.
2: Offshore Fishing: No doubt in my mind that the New York Bight, incorporating much of lower New York Bay and New Jersey's Raritan Bay has been the most outstanding striped bass fishery in the last five years. Second place would be offshore in the Virginia Beach area and third place would be Montauk Point.
My favorite place, the place that to me is the greatest single location for striped bass surf fishing and inshore fishing is Nantucket Island. For the surfcaster, Brant Point, Madaket or Great Point are the three best spots on the island.
Q: You are lucky to be a friend of the Daignault's, how often do fish with them?
Yes WE are indeed fortunate to have the Daignault's as friends and contributors to StriperSurf. They are very fine people. Believe it or not, I have never fished with Frank and Joyce. It might happen some day but I'm afraid that I might cast over his line or accidentally hit him in the head with a big plug full of trebles. A good friendship damaged....,
Q: How many people are involved in maintaining this web site?
One (1) full time fool. But I get a lot of help from volunteers who Moderate and Administer the Message Boards, their names are listed on the About Us page, God Bless Them!