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4 Killer Baits for Springtime Striper Fishing

Posted: 02.18.2019

kayak striper fishing

My Favorite Baits for Springtime Striper Fishing In Rhode Island
By Tom Adams

As the weather and water warm up us kayak fishermen here in Rhode Island anticipate the return of the coveted striped bass. For me, I start getting my Wilderness 
Systems Radar 135 kayak and gear ready for the long New England fishing season. In April I find myself watching for Osprey, scanning the shores and checking the usual spots for the first wave of “schoolies” to show up; social media and fishing reports such as On The Waters Striper Migration Map also play a big role in preparing for the “Spring Run”. I find that when the water temps in the upper bays are around 50 – 55 degrees the fishing is going to be good and only get better! 
My top “go-to” baits for springtime stripers are:

  1. Live eels
  2. Top-water plugs
  3. Tube and worm
  4. Live Pogie (aka bunker or menhaden)

For live lining eels or pogie my rigs are all pretty much the same, it’s known around here as the fish finder rig. I pre-tie them using a spro 50lb barrel swivel and 7/0 Owner octopus circle hooks, I’m using Andes Backcountry monofilament in either 30lb or 40lb test and my leaders are about 3’- 4’ in length. Depending on what depth or type of current I’m fishing will determine what weight sinker I’ll be using. A majority of the time I’m kayak fishing in waters ranging from 3’ to 40’ deep, although I prefer the 3’ to 15’ – 20’ depths.

When the sun starts to break on the horizon the top-water feed can be one of the best! I like to make sure I have a Bigfish Bait Co. 2oz blitz seeker and a 1oz pencil popper or a 247Lures Mully or Flipping Mullet ready to go, some other local favorite top-water lure is the “Doc” in either the 9” or 6”. The most reliable retrieval of this lure is called “walking the dog” which is simply twitching the rod tip as you reel causing it to “walk” back and forth on the water. When the big stripers hit these, hang on and get ready to have that blood pumping while that fish explodes on the surface and starts towing you around on your kayak.

If you’re moving from one spot to another or your arms are burning from tossing plugs for a few hours or if you just feel like trolling it’s time to switch tactics to the tube and worm. Slow and low is a great method for this style of fishing. Make sure you’re prepared to get bit by the sand worm as you’re trying to bait the hook on the trolling tube lol. I like the 24 inch trolling tube and the 12 inch casting tube, all tubes used are red wine color.

From the middle to the end of May you'll find me and some of the usual Ocean State Kayak Anglers Association (OSKAA) suspects out there chasing the bigger stripers in the early morning hours tossing top- water plugs or live lining pogies (bunker or menhaden) and into the night drifting some eels waiting for the line to get tight, the rod to bend over and the “sleigh ride” begins!

Tight Lines and Safe Seas
Tom Adams