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Catch Striped Bass in Delaware Bay

Captain Brion Babbitt Tells us How

By

(Editor's note: Here is an article from Captain Brion Babbitt from the Makoman Charter)

High winds have put a temporary crimp in the striped bass fishing, but when the steep pressure gradient now over the area abates, expect a resumption of excellent sport. Until the recent windy weather, good action with big striped bass up to 44 inches was happening at the Horseshoe (general area: 27200/42820) in upper Delaware Bay by chunking bunker. Other good locations to chunk outsized striped bass include the upper end of 20-Foot Slough (27157/42828) and the north tip of 60-Foot Slough at Loran C 27173/42800.

Use fresh bunker when chunking bass. The bunker head is the most durable part of the baitfish. Experts at this sport insist on the change of the tide - particularly the beginning of the ebb tide - as prime time to chunk big striped bass. Use a basic fishfinder rig to put the bunker head on the bottom about 50 feet behind your anchored boat. The key is to draw bass to your location by forming a tempting stream of bunker chunks. Don't overfeed the bass. Throw just enough morsels at intermittent times to lure hungry linesiders. In contrast, a hard-running tide makes chunking almost impossible; the fast-moving water carries chunks too far astern before sinking and makes holding bottom with any bait a real chore. A 20-pound-class spinning or conventional outfit is a good match for this fishing. Try a circle hook pinned through the nostrils of a bunker head. Snell or tie the hook to 3 feet of 40-pound-test clear nylon mono or fluorocarbon leader material.

Striped bass have been taken at Middle Shoal and Overfalls Shoal in lower Delaware Bay. The bass fishing along the rips over the lower Delaware Bay shoals has been productive with live eels, as is usually the case at this time of year. Use a 3/0 to 4/0, needle-point, short-shank live bait hook or a circle hook to pin the eel through both lips. A thin-wire hook keeps the eels friskier. Another excellent way to hook eels is to put the hook in their mouth and out through one eye socket. And, because eels are often slithery and difficult to grasp, try putting a chunk of ice in your eel bucket to slow down the critters. They'll be easier to grasp and hook.

Live eel drift-fishing is good on both ebb and flow tides. Experts at "run-and-gun" fishing the many rip-lines from Cape May Point (Prissy Wicks Shoal) to Lewes, Delaware (Buoys 8A and 8B) fish a rip using a zig-zag pattern. They short-drift a rip-line, working along its length and never re-drifting an area that produces no hookups on the first pass. A high concentration of boats at one rip may signal a few fish, but this action rarely is sustainable. The constant droning of engines over a shoal can put fish off their feed. For this reason, weekend action frequently brings the poorest results in the most heavily fished areas. The best situation is to locate cooperative fish away from the madding crowd. Bass fishing on weekdays pays dividends, too.

A fun-filled way to enjoy this fast-paced action is with a 15-pound-class spinning or revolving spool outfit. I tie a Bimini twist or use a spider hitch to put 2 feet of double line in my spool line, then use a surgeon's knot or blood knot to connect 3 feet of 40-pound-test clear mono. Recently, I've ceased using a barrel swivel between my running line and leader. The connecting knot can also serve as a "snub" for an egg sinker. Some pros prefer to tie a small trolling drail between the line and leader.. The eel should be presented deep. No weight may be necessary on calm days. How to rig depends, as always, on the prevailing wind and tide conditions. Remember: never use more weight than is necessary.

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