Stripers Take Center Stage At Pleasant
October 1, 2015
Some misspell them, "strippers." True enough, they are just that: strippers of line.
Today, though, we'll be talking about stripers.
Just northwest of Phoenix, the striped bass fishery is buzzing. Lake Pleasant is a haven for these linesiders, known for their line-stripping potential, excellent table fare (their mild, white meat is great for fish tacos) and, under special regulations at this 9,500-lake, no bag limit.
Great to eat. No bag limit. Yep, and this type of fishing is suitable for men and women, great-grandparents and children.
So during the next month or so of early fall, here's one way to catch these feisty fighters at Lake Pleasant, Ariz.
Fishing at night is usually the best option during early fall. The process can be simple: Submersible lights below the boat at Lake Pleasant attract tiny shad, and the shad attract the predatory striped bass. The green-tinted surface can reveal juvenile stripers chasing and flashing and dicing balls of one-inch shad - nature's aquarium.
A key is to find darkness. Again, fish at night and away from full moons and removed from other boaters who are dropping submersible lights. Check a solunar calendar before heading out.
On a Friday in mid-September, multiple boats - 13 in an 80-yard radius - flashed their green submersible lights. Coupled with red-and-yellow lights streaking off the dam, the scene hinted at Christmas:
It also meant the lights weren't as effective because, in this scenario, the shad disperse among the additional light. Anglers want them congregated. Find a lonely cove on a new-to-quarter moon. Corner the shad market.
All You Need
Boat anglers can head out with medium-action spinning rods filled with 12-pound fluorocarbon line (or monofilament to save some money.) Rig a dropshot with No. 2 baitholder or circle hooks and 1/2-ounce weights. Do not set the hook with circle hooks; baitholder hooks, on the other hand, will allow the angler to set the hook, an advantage with light, bait-thieving bites.
Don't forget the fishing license - purchase one online to help conserve wildlife for our future fisher-children, and grandchildren.
Anchovies And Action
Also pick up some anchovies (the north Phoenix Sportsman's Warehouse and most WalMarts have them) and keep them frozen in an ice chest. Head out to 50 to 100 feet of water and lower the submersible lights, chum the waters with bits of anchovies, kick back, and tell your fishing buddy a couple old line-soaking stories (true or not) as the food chain under the boat forms like bubbles into foam.
In general, quality stripers tend to suspend right off the bottom, and aggressive, smaller fish around the middle of the water column.
Monitor the fish finder for the indications of fish. If you're fishing from a kayak/canoe, cover a lot of water until you find the bite.
Cut one-inch sections of anchovies (frozen anchovies stay on the hook much longer). Hook a piece anchovy through one side of the skin, rotate the hook 180 degrees, and hook it back through the anchovy.
If your fish finder is marking fish at, say, 30 feet, or on the bottom, drop the rig into the water, counting the seconds it takes for the bait to get into the target area. Keep that count in your mind - once you've found the depth of the fish, it'll be time to figure out the next number on the fish-finding combination: the bite and hook-set.
Three Types Of Bites
"There are three types of bites here," said Barry Worman, moderator of the popular Arizona Striper Fishing Facebook page and, during this calm, star-smeared night, boat operator.
"One is the 'dink, dink dink,' really weak bites: These guys are master thieves at getting anchovies off. The second is where you get two feet of slack (in your line). They're coming up, so you've got to reel in the slack and whack them. The third bite is your rod just bends."
'But Wait;There's More'
Arizona fishing offers more than just striper action at Lake Pleasant, so see our http://www.azgfd.gov fishing page for a mixed bag of resources, such as stocking schedules, maps of our top fisheries (including access points to Lake Pleasant), and details of where to fish.