Do you ever find yourself saying something your dad always said, something you swore in your youth you never would say? Yeah, me too.
One of my dad’s favorite sayings is “A smart man learns by experience, but a wise man learns by the experience of others.” I have found myself repeating that phrase more times than I care to admit, but life has taught me that it is true.
It also is the reason I like visiting with my friends at the Nevada Striper Club. This collection of die-hard striper anglers has logged thousands of hours on Lake Mead; it only makes sense that what they have to share about striped bass fishing could be extremely beneficial to a wise angler.
While they won’t give up all of their tournament secrets, the Striper Club guys will tell you as much about striper fishing as you are willing to listen to. Sometimes they even will share their tackle if it will help you catch fish.
With spring weather a little unpredictable, Toby Chandler, Striper Club tournament director, said you can’t let the weather beat you. During the club’s tournament last weekend, lucky angler Roger Batson, an ironworker, caught a 14½-pound fish just as the winds kicked up, the swales pushed toward the 4-foot mark and spray came over the boat.
Chandler said some anglers have found success this spring by trolling live gizzard shad using something similar to a trap-rig. (I had to look that one up.) The angler starts with a 1-ounce in-line trolling sinker that comes with a swivel at one end and ties that on the main line. The swivel keeps the trolled bait from twisting the line. To the sinker he ties on a leader approximately equal in length to that of his fishing rod, and at the end of the leader he ties in a single hook using a snell or a nail knot. A couple of inches below the single hook, the angler ties in a No. 6 treble hook as a stinger.
To this rig, the angler adds a hand-size gizzard shad by hooking the bait fish through the nose with the single hook. The treble hook, or stinger, is positioned at the tail end of the dorsal fin or in the fish’s vent. When everything is ready, the angler trolls this setup in about 30 feet of water, Chandler said. “It’s working, but come the end of next month, it’s not going to work so well,” he added.
Also working well is a cut anchovy fished on a 1/16- to 1/8-ounce jig head. Cut the head and tail off an anchovy, and use those for chum. Put the remaining chunk as your bait. You want it about the size of your thumb. Chandler likes to use attractant sprays such a Jack’s Juice in salty shad or garlic flavors. If you haven’t had a bite in 15 minutes or so, either respray your bait or change it out. “The lake water will bleach out your bait of any flavor or scent,” Chandler said.
This setup allows your bait to fall slowly through the water column and presents fish with a long strike zone. Weighted hooks, on which the sinker is attached directly to the hook shank, will provide a similar presentation.
Other options when using bait are Carolina rigs and slip rigs. Both work off the same principle but are constructed of slightly different components. Basically, you slide a bullet weight or egg sinker on your line, follow that with a swivel and then tie on a leader and your preferred hook. On the Carolina rig, add a bead between the sinker and the swivel. These setups permit your line to move freely through the sinker and give you a better chance of feeling the bite before the fish feels resistance.
The striped bass currently are hanging out in about 40 to 60 feet of water near points and in the mouths of coves, Chandler said. He also recommends Cap’n J’s Hookup VegasFishing.com as a place to get started when looking for techniques that will work at different times of the year. For more information on the Striper Club, visit nevadastriperclub.org.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.