Opinions and Thoughts for Short Striper Situation
Guys, Ive caught around 40 shorts over the past few weeks in tough fishing conditions down here in lower Delaware. By tough I mean wind, rain, dirty water and fishing spots where no keepers have been caught all year.
I've gotten the fish on small crankbaits, MirrOlures and small bucktails. I have some questions though because I think I should be able to catch more when the fish are around. I have found schools of popping shorts at my spots around town. They seem to appear and tear the place up for about 15 minutes and then vanish for the same amount of time and then reappear... in spurts like that. When the fish are around they just tear the place up. I see them flashing over each other just below the water surface. I see them smacking, splashing and popping on top. Interestingly, they have appeared on schedule even in the worst weather - high winds, freezing cold, dirty water - coffee brown, rain... hasn't mattered.
I have found that I never catch more than 7-9 fish even though it seems hundreds of them are flying around in front of me. The 1/2oz MirrOlure suspending twitchbait has been my top producer in all black color and a striper teaser fly on back. Most of the fish are caught on the fly. Yet I have never heard them break the surface to hit the fly teaser. It appears to me that they are feeding on some type of slender baitfish, like a young sand eel - they are 2-3 inches long and I can hardly see them in the water but there are thousands of them down there. The stripers are gorging themselves on the bait, whatever it is. Oddly, when the water is opaque and dirty from high winds, it stays that way for days and days and ruins the fishing because during these times I can not get the fish to hit - they are there, tearing the place up as usual at certain times but they wont hit my MirrOlure, a spoon, jig, popper, swimshad - chatterbait... all sized down for shorts.
My theory has been that in dirty conditions the fish are still feeding on bait because they have vibration and hear/feel the bait on their lateral lines... plus they have scent and follow the trail and gulp probably blindly to eat the bait. My lures have no scent and since the fish cannot see the lure during the dirty times, they only have sound/feel and it is not enough to get them to follow and strike. Do you think this theory is close to explaining why I have not been able to get them to hit during dirty water?
Another question - when conditions are better, clean water etc... do you think I would catch more of the fish if I went to a small worm or soft plastic that looks more like the bait they are eating? I would use a jighead or bulletsinker. If you were fishing 2-6ft of water with some movement but not heavy current, what weight would you use - would you want to jig to flutter slowly or dart quick up and down?
I have some sluggos, bassassins and even some large 14" hogy eels that are colored black and white or black and silver - I have some smaller grubs that are white or silverish, thumpertails, curly tails, houdini shad, etc... what kind of soft plastic would you guys use? I have tried white jigs with white curly tail grubs with no luck. Plain white bucktails with no trailers have caught a few but nothing to write home about. Ive seen a couple fish in these spots that are a little bigger, close to keeper size and would like to get them hooked up. I'm fishing night time and finding the fish around lights where bait fish are attracted. In these conditions what artificial would you guys throw? I have some shrimp sauce or some kind of oily flavorant - would it help in dirty water conditions by providing a scent trail?