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Ask Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is recognized as an authority on surf fishing for striped bass. He is the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles. Frank is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America and lectures throughout the Northeast.

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  #1  
Old 01-31-2017, 12:18 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default "Big Bait, Big Fish"

This is a saying that we have all heard uttered in the striper surf many times . Please reflect upon the validity, wisdom or hoakum that you feel is reflective of the saying. Any truth in it?
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Old 01-31-2017, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

My precious little experience with big stripers is that when big baits are around, big lures or big bait will work better to draw a strike.

However, I doubt that's the rule 100% of the time.

On another species, I caught my personal best flounder on the tiniest minnow I had. My reason for switching to tiny was because the current was causing bigger minnows to spin and thus ruin the presentation. I can't help but think the same holds in striper fishing. That is, the best presentation catches the best fish, regardless of size.
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Old 01-31-2017, 02:58 PM
Chris Garrity Chris Garrity is offline
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

Then there's the corollary: Yeah, but elephants eat peanuts!

I'm sitting here thinking about fishing expressions, and I was going to post, but I don't wanna hijack a new thread. I think I'll start a new one.
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Old 02-01-2017, 09:35 AM
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

A small 6 inch plug is but a micro dot in the expanse of the open beach, even more so in the wild water conditions. In many scenarios the object is to get a striper to at least be aware your offering is out there, and then hopefully get the bass to bite. When I throw larger plugs at least I know the bass will sense it's there, they may not strike it, but at least they will know it's there. The rest is up to me.
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Old 02-01-2017, 10:29 AM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

I don't believe in the concept of big bait catching big bass. My wife and I have caught a lot of big bass on flies. Our crab fly is the size of a coin (quarter) and we have slain 20 pound plus linesides with the juvie crab pattern.

I have known P-town boatmen who live lined four pound Pollock and two pound mackerel for large. For instance, the girls with 60-pound world records. Bait size is not a determinate in my opinion/

I love Garrahy's elephants/peanuts analogy.
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Old 02-01-2017, 11:16 AM
dz dz is offline
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

Maybe we need to expand on what is considered a big bait. A six inch needle is huge compared to a 4 inch redgill.
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:02 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

A big bait is an adult bunker, over two pounds. Or a full size hickory shad; or a 16 inch eel; or a three pound Pollock; or a two pound mackerel.

Knowing what is coming next, a small bait would be a seaworm, (cinder or neiris) a grass shrimp or a coin sized juvie hermit crab.
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:41 PM
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

It makes sense, if the big baits are around, and you use only a big bait, that only a striper that could handle it would hit it.

But as you wrote, the stripers aren't always on "big".
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Old 02-02-2017, 10:41 AM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobS View Post
It makes sense, if the big baits are around, and you use only a big bait, that only a striper that could handle it would hit it.

But as you wrote, the stripers aren't always on "big".
The stripers are on what is available and that can be anything regardless of size. You find everything in striper bellies -- lobster, scup, even marine species the average person cannot identify. One time I spent hours in a fish book looking up mantis shrimp.
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Old 02-02-2017, 10:50 AM
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

I think the presence of big bait -- adult bunker, mackerel, sea herring -- often indicates that big bass are around. But sometimes they are around and the bait is peanuts or sandeels, or nothing at all. So it's something to pay attention to but it's not the be all end all of striper fishing.
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Old 02-02-2017, 03:24 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

Any and all information has value. I don't advocate killing fish but sometimes you have hooked a gill and the thing is bleeding and is going to die. That is the one I will eat. If you are killing it anyway take a look in its stomach to see what it has been feeding on. You might be surprised at what you find. It could be an estuary full of sand-ells yet it has been feeding on grass shrimp. What does it cost to know more?

Hunting we always check the ground or snow for evidence of a crossing point. I mean, you are there with nothing to do anyway. Might as well make observations. In the wild a big part of the fun and frolic of fishing/hunting is to learn stuff. You can be checking the ground and have a monster buck looking at you. You can be listening for breaking fish and hear something behind you in the estuary when you expected fish in front. God, I love to fish and hunt.
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Old 02-03-2017, 10:45 AM
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

There's no hard and fast rules when it comes to lure sizes. Agree with DZ that you have to get seen to get eaten. I believe that when bass are running the dropoff or crossing the rip, they aren't necessarily on a feeding pattern but will feed opportunistically. Here you have to get their attention. Large presents something more visible and more calories.
If bass are stemming a rip, hanging at a creek mouth, in a surf full of sandeels they are generally going to go for the predominant smaller forage that requires less effort.
Why do bass switch from hitting the plug to favoring the dropper in the same tide?
At times I'll switch my offering to something larger in hopes that the bass sizes will follow. It rarely has worked.
Size matters, but you have to figure out when less is more or vice versa.
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Old 02-03-2017, 11:44 AM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is offline
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Default Re: "Big Bait, Big Fish"

While I have sung the praises of small offers, one of favorites is the Creek Chub Giant Pikie Minnow. It is pretty much the largest plug offered for surf stripers and they climb on it. I know casters who will not use it because it can actually hurt you. I have hurt back muscles myself. Also broke a surfrod one time. Bass will take it even while feeding on small bait.
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