River Fishing for Striped Bass
Striped Bass will swim up some rivers from their home out in the ocean to spawn in the springtime. They can swim an incredible maximum distance of 125 miles upriver or until they reach their place of birth.
This gives fishermen a unique opportunity to catch monster-sized striped bass along freshwater river banks. Stripers can be in deeper river holes in the early Spring, but they’ll be cruising in shallower waters most of the time. It's important to have the best striper lures to catch the most fish.
Types of Striper Lures
There are multiple types of lures for river striper fishing, depending on where the fish are located. Some baits are better when fish are shallower, and some baits dive deeper to target fish hiding in pockets.
Bottom Fishing Lures
Lures designed to be worked along the bottom will catch stripers year-round in all conditions and environments. Because they work so great through the spring, avid striped bass fishermen should always carry these with them while out on the water. While arguably not as exciting as topwater blowups, they sure do catch fish.
River Striper Plugs
Plugs are ideal when stripers move up into 10ft of water or less. Retrieving a striper plug just under the surface will create the perfect wake presentation. Regular plugs are better than deep-diving models, which tend to get hung up fairly often. Striped bass are aggressive fish that will come up a long distance to hit your bait.
Topwater Striper Baits
Topwater bait styles are undoubtedly the most exciting style of fishing lures. They’re designed to be ripped across the surface of the water, creating a ton of noise. Many fish species, but especially striped bass, are known to jump clear out of the water while attacking prey on the surface. While topwater baits aren’t as versatile as other styles when the surface lure bite is on, it’s a ton of fun.
Last Cast Tackle 3/4 Ounce Bucktail
Bucktails are a classic lure for Striped Bass fishing. Last Cast Tackle has a 3/4 ounce model that’s a perfect bottom fishing design for river stripers. White is the best color for consistent results day after day.
Chartreuse is popular and is especially effective in dirty water. The vibrant pattern helps Striped Bass identify your lure in low visibility environments.
Saltwater Sand Trout Sea Shad
Many companies make soft plastic swimbaits, but the best for river stripers is the Bass Assassin Saltwater Sea Shad in the Sand Trout color. This bait is 4” long, which is the ideal length for most sizes of striped bass. If you’re targeting larger fish, another option is to use a 6” soft plastic swimsuit.
Lighter colors like the Sand Trout are better at mimicking baitfish. Pure white tends to look slightly artificial, but Sand Trout has a subtle shad or mullet shading. We’ve caught hundreds of striped bass over the years on this bait.
Soft plastic swimbaits are best used on a 1/2oz Strike King Jig Head. Make sure your presentation is consistently coming in contact with the bottom. The more sand and dirt your lure kicks up, the more likely it is to be noticed by fish.
Zoom Swimming Super Fluke
The Zoom Swimming Super Fluke is a fish-catching machine that’s best rigged weedless and fished higher in the water column. When this isn’t working, fishing this on the bottom with a 1/2oz Strike King Jig Head never fails to catch.
This is a popular lure for river striped bass because the larger Super Fluke is more appropriate for bigger fish. While most of Zoom Bait’s Super Fluke patterns are top-notch, the Tennessee Shad is an angler favorite.
Topwater Magnum Pop-R
When stripers are chasing shad on the surface, there’s nothing more exciting than throwing a topwater bait. A trendy option is the Silver/Blue Magnum Pop-R. It’s gained popularity for no other reason than it catches a ton of fish.
This bait performs best during or after the spawn when the fish are more active and aggressively feeding. Make sure to use the larger Magnum size as the regular is too small and difficult for fish to notice.
Bombet Badonk-A-Donk Redhead Flash
The Bomber Badonk-A-Donk Redhead Flash has a similar performance to the popular Heddon Zara Spook but is built using higher-quality materials. It’s durable enough to withstand the powerful strike of striped bass, unlike Zara baits designed for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
This bait’s hearty design gives it more action than other topwater and gets more strikes from larger fish. Its read head also imitates a wounded baitfish making it more tempting to finicky fish. There's no doubt that this bait is one of the best.
Cotton Cordell Ripplin' Red-Fin
The Gold/Orange Cotton Cordell Red-Fin is a bait used all across the world to target stripers. Two enticing retrieval techniques are twitching the bait on the surface and quickly jerking the bait with frequent but brief pauses.
Just before nightfall, this bait hammers fish. When retrieved just under the water's surface, it pushes a large wake that makes stripers go crazy for it.
Daiwa Salt Pro 6" Sinking Minnow (Green Mackerel)
For a “ripping style” retrieve, there’s nothing quite like the Daiwa Salt Pro 6” Sinking Minnow. It’s a great bait with a super long profile that casts a mile on the right equipment. The heavy-duty saltwater hooks are sure to withstand the force of monster fish.
A popular color is Green Mackerel, a pattern with green shading on top and silver on the bottom.
Sebile Magic Swimmer (Bunker)
Yet another bait that stripers tear up is the Sebile Magic Swimmer. The lure’s designed to be forward-buoyant, really giving it a lifelike swimming action. Nearly all saltwater fishermen own this bait by now since it has exploded in popularity over the past few years.
The Gold Colored Sebile Magic Swimmer is a great option for rivers on the East Coast or anywhere with stained waters.
Storm Wildeye Swim Shad 06 (Golden Mullet/Bunker)
This is another bait that catches fish year-round and in all fishing conditions. The Storm Wildeye Swim Shad 06 is a massive model weighing a tremendous 0.875oz. One of the most popular places to fish for striped bass in rivers is in North Carolina.
The waters here are stained, much darker, and almost have a tea color to them. The gold shine on these baits, especially the bunker color, creates a lure that’s unstoppable in these conditions.
If your waters match this description or have large golden shiner baitfish, give this bait a try.