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Hybrid Striped Bass Fishing Tips

Hybrid Striped Bass Fishing Tips

The hybrid striped bass, or "wiper" is an artificial cross between a striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and a white bass (Morone chrysops). Hybridization of these two species does not occur naturally. Therefore, hybrid striped bass must be cultured in a fish hatchery situation. Hybrid bass can be distinguished from white bass by its two tooth patches on the tongue, as opposed to only one tooth patch on the white bass. As they grow older, hybrid bass become thicker and deeper-bodied, giving them a distinctive short and stocky appearance.

Hybrids may be found in a variety of habitats. In some lakes they may prefer fairly flat, shallow, sandy areas. In other lakes, typically the larger reservoirs, they may prefer the more rocky habitats located directly above or below the dams. Best fishing for hybrid striped bass occurs just after sundown or in the early morning just before sunrise. They are caught primarily on artificial baits which resemble gizzard shad. Imitation shad that rattle have proven to be successful at many lakes. In addition, many anglers have been successful using live bait such as night crawlers or soft craws.

Hybrids appear to be attracted to flowing water. Tailwater areas below dams are good fishing locations when water is flowing either through the spillway gates or turbines of the dam. Also, natural springs and the mouths of feeder creeks after heavy rains can attract hybrids.

The fish will usually not be in the fastest water, but off to the side waiting to ambush their prey (or your lure). Areas with current are productive throughout the year. Hybrids also travel up reservoir tributary streams right along with the white bass during April and May.

You can catch hybrids on a variety of artificial baits. In fast water situations, such as those encountered below dams, heavy spoons and jigs are popular baits. For areas with less current, imitation minnow baits and other crankbaits are effective. Hybrids also can be caught on shad, liver and a variety of insects.

Hybrids occupy distinct spots on structure, so trolling passes need to be exact. Anglers should line up shoreline objects and troll between them. Most strikes will come while trolling with the current because the fish like to hold on the down-current side of points.

During the summer months, you can catch hybrids by trolling deep-diving crankbaits over main lake points or near the edge where a flat drops off into the channel. The key is to get your lure to bounce bottom in 14 to 17 feet of water. This can be done by adding weight to your lure and by using a low stretch/small diameter line.

Hybrids occupy distinct spots on structure, so trolling passes need to be exact. Anglers should line up shoreline objects and troll between them. Most strikes will come while trolling with the current because the fish like to hold on the down-current side of points.

Seasonal Wiper Fishing Approaches

Spring: In faster water, such as tailwaters, use heavy spoons and jigs. In less current use imitation minnow baits and other crankbaits. As water warms fish may undergo spawning movement into upstream areas, try creek mouths up to headwaters or lowhead dams, and below dams in tailwaters of lakes and rivers.

Late Spring: Fish are hungry as they move back to lake or downstream areas. Try fishing baits at a variety of depths to locate fish. As fish return to lake or move downstream try creek mouths, deep points, and shallow flats

Summer: Live shad can be drift fished, trolled, fished below a balloon or float, or hung straight down on tightline. Other live or cut baits can be fished on bottom. Best fishing is dawn and dusk and overcast days. Deep lakes are now stratified and fish stay above the warm/cold water interface (thermocline) where there is oxygen. Watch for fish breaking the surface chasing shad and try fishing the "jumps". Fish points at creek mouths, underwater roadbeds, and humps in 10-15 feet near deeper water.

Fall: Cast spoons into schools of bait fish, troll shad-type crankbaits, cast flashy metal lures onto flats, or bottom fish cut bait or chicken livers. As water cools, fish will move shallower. Similar to spring, but watch for fish breaking the surface chasing shad.

Winter: Fish are in deeper water near river channels, humps, and tips of points. Vertical jig spoons and tail spinners. Use heavier baits based on current in the river. In lakes try deep points, and creek mouths, and below dams in tailwaters. In rivers try warm-water discharges and tailwaters.