Chasing The Migration

Written by TheDeerwhisperer on Friday, July 19, 2013

Since I am going on a Striper trip tomorrow, I am excited and was thinking about all the years I chased these fish from North Carolina using plastic swim baits and buck tails while following the whales as the stripers fed behind them, up through NJ/NY where clamming, throwing big top water lures, and live lining bunker is most popular, and ending up in Northern Connecticut to where we fish deep waters with heavy currents casting lures and dragging umbrella rigs with wire to find the big ones. Man, I have had some amazing experiences and caught some BIG fish through the years. If you are an avid Striper fisherman like I once was (still am just don’t have the time I used to) and have never had the opportunity to travel and fish the striper migration route…you are missing out and should make an effort to do it…you will be more hooked than you already are!

The Spring Striper migration begins in in waters off the coast of Southern Virginia and North Carolina where the fish winter during late January and February. Once the waters begin to warm up the fish begin their journey north chasing the colder waters and migrating bait fish. From my experience, Stripers prefer the water temperature range between 58-64 degrees, but will tolerate a range between 55-68 degrees. What makes chasing the migrating fish so exciting... it’s the larger mature fish that join the migration which means you are always into the bigger fish and have a chance to catch some slobs! Most of the fish that are involved in the migration will be over 30 inches long.

It is when these mature fish migrate north and reaches us, we begin to catch fish 30 plus lbs. regularly and have a chance to land that 50lb fish so many thrive to catch. In New Jersey the big fish usually appear mid-May/early June chasing herring, bunker, and shad into the local rivers and bays before hitting the ocean and heading north chasing the colder waters in July.

As the mature fish chase bait fish into the local rivers and bays, any big cow that has not spawned will do so. The Hudson River and Delaware are two of the biggest spawning grounds for the NJ and PA area. Once the baby stripers are born, they will stay in that area until they get big and strong enough to make the migration trip. These fish are typically called “local holdover” or “Shorty’s” and are what most are catching starting late winter in the rivers and bays. These smaller fish begin to eat more regularly when the waters hit the mid-40s…as they reach that 30 plus inch range, they will join the migration and relocate with the other mature fish.

Once the waters up north cool off…the migration will once again head south looking for warmer water giving us another opportunity at the bigger fish, but for me that is hunting season and fishing is the furthest thing from my mind.

I already hit the waters of NJ earlier this year and caught some nice hold over fish, but I didn’t get the chance to chase the big ones when they were here. The big fish are now heading north, so I am going to head north to chase after them.

I’ll keep you posted.

About The Author

A master of finding and harvesting big New Jersey whitetails with 5 NJ Pope & Youngs to...

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