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Wednesday, 27 October 2010 02:00

Stripers in the Bay

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Stripers in the Bay Photograph by Mark Wheeler

“JINGLE DRAGS, JINGLE DRAGS, COWS ARE ON THEIR WAY, TIME TO BE AT KIPTOPEKE, WHERE WE EEL ALL DAY HEY”  This is the song all Striper kayak fisherman hear in there merry heads after thunder chicken day “thanksgiving”. The water temps drop and the Stripers from the northern Atlantic merge with the “rockfish” from the northern bay at the concrete ships and the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT). This is going to become a how to, where to, and a traveler’s guide to fishing the winter BassZilla migration of Virginias eastern shore.


concrete_shipsSo where do I catch these bass?  This is the area that many of us find and fish for the trophy bass and to be honest it is surprisingly easy to do; you just need the right gear some patience and to be a little nuts (more on this later) to get into the bass. Now terminal tackle is important, use a Heavy action 6’ to a 6’6” foot conventional rod, with a good reel that can hold at least 150 yards of 80+lb. braid… yes 80+lb BRAID there is no other line that should be used due to the close proximity to concrete, rusted metal and the possibility of hooking into a 60+ lb. cow that is not going to be happy.  I use an egg style weight sometimes up to 8 oz, a heavy duty swivel, at least 4 feet of good 80 to 100 lb. mono or fluorocarbon leader, and an 8/0 to 10/0 circle hook of your choice.

P8220143With that ready it’s time to think about bait, getting there, and where to stay. Live bait is simple; every tackle shop in Virginia is going to sell eels this time of year.  Now to keep them alive get yourself two big glad lock containers, punch holes in the bottom of one of them, put the eels in the one with the holes, and add a few pieces of ice then put the eel box into a cooler on ice. This will keep the eels cold and calm and easier to handle. There are several places to stay within an easy distance of the ships, but they go very quickly. Another alternative is staying on other side of the bay in Virginia Beach, granted it’s a toll and drive across the CBBT but you will have much more to do if the weather is crappy. If you bring the family they can have entertainment and shopping while you fish.

If your going to fish out here you are going to need to where the correct gear; thermals, waders, and a waterproof top. Common sense is crucial out here, or you can possibly get knocked in the water and DIE! It is very cold, so I this is what I wear starting from my skin on out; wool socks, polyester thermals NO COTTON!, and a beanie, then waterproof waders (you can get a great pair at your local hunting store for less than $125.00) then a paddle jacket, something that seals around your wrist (so the water doesn’t go down your arm) this is entirely up to you. Then what I recommend is a wading belt. Now to quell the idea that if you fall in your waders will fill with water here is a video to answer that myth.

So you finally have gotten out to Kiptopeke, and you paddle to the big honking ships with everyone else and you wonder how to fish it? Well its really simple really, you hook the eel from under the head so it comes out his eye, then drop him in and basically hug the ships trying to get the eel and yourself as close to the ships as possible. The reason is the big bass hug the bottom under the hull of the ships and they look up the whole time looking for the eels to swim over them, then they slurp’em down.  So what I do is drop the weight till I hit the bottom then give it 4 cranks of the reel to “suspend” the bait off the bottom. Now you’ve got the bait in the water set and your rubbing your yak on the ships you need to keep your drag loose enough to let the fish run a little but tight enough to keep her from running into,  around  and under you and the ships. When you hear that wonderful sound DO NOT SET THE HOOK!!! Just tighten your drag remember your using circle hooks just come tight and fight your fish. The key is to one hand paddle away from the ships and try to play the bass into open water.



So you’ve got your bass next to  you and your eyes are bugging out of there head cause this is just a fat old girl weighing more than your yak, how the heck do you get it into the kayak? Well Kayak Kevin showed many of us in using this technique that he uses and it works very well, basically you loosen your drag then, (if your right handed) grab the leader with your left hand and reach your right handed maw and gorilla grip the basses lower jaw. Now here comes some coordination you are going to take your right leg and use it as a ramp, and pull the bass using your leg from your knee up to your chest then when you think you can get your leg back in “kick” the bass the rest of the way in. it’s like I said coordination is the key. Now it’s up to you at this point you can either take a few pictures and release her or you can put her big butt in your foot well and paddle back in because you have just caught the fish of your lifetime. It’s up to you personally I always keep my second one of the year, (I like the karma of letting the first one go) then from then on out I release the rest.


Come on out to the mouth of the bay and enjoy one of the greatest spoils of mother ocean the stripers in the bay I’ll see you on the water, where the cows come home.


Read 8628 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 21:14

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