December 4, 2023

Hardcore Game Fishing

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Baitfish of the Fall Run | Fall Run Survival Guide

The fall run is a chaotic and wonderful time to be a striped bass angler. Even though fishermen throughout most of the Northeast can count on about two solid months of fishing for migrating stripers between Labor Day and New Year’s, there’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” feel that causes us to cast with a sense of urgency that wasn’t present back when the bass were migrating north.

To help make the most of this year’s fall striper migration, we’ve compiled this “Survival Guide” by surveying some of the most dedicated surfcasters in the Northeast and sharing some of our favorite tips for the final months of the striper season. – Jimmy Fee

Find the Bait…

Right alongside the migrating stripers, a great variety of baitfish are also heading to their wintering grounds in the fall. With many calories needed to fuel their long swims south, stripers aren’t picky about what they consume. I’ve seen fall bass blitzing on snapper blues, northern kingfish, hickory shad, bunker big and small, mullet, anchovies, lizardfish, sea herring, and mantis shrimp, yet there is a clear hierarchy of baitfish that pose the greatest benefit to striper-seeking surfcasters.

Of the 30 hardcore surfcasters we surveyed, here’s the breakdown of the baitfish they are most excited to see in the fall.

Bay Anchovies

“’Chovies! Everything of all shapes and sizes eats them. It’s so cool to see how they stain the water and spray like the gold coins from Scrooge McDuck.”
– Stephen Lobosco, New York

bay anchovies
Striped bass can swallow bay anchovies by the dozens.

Related Article: Striped Bass on Rain Bait

Menhaden and Mackerel

“Bunker and macks because stripers like them even more than I like pot roast.”
– East End Eddie Doherty, Massachusetts

A wall of schooling bunker (Photo by Tim Regan @southforksalt)

Related Article: The Bunker Handbook


“When the squid boats are dragging within site of the surf, the fishing’s usually pretty good.”
– Earl Evans, Van Staal Reels, Rhode Island

Squid go airborne while fleeing from hungry stripers (S16 Ep. 5 OTW’s Angling Adventures)

Related Article: Catching Calamari-Crazed Stripers


Mullet. I get excited, because they don’t always show up. There are just a few spots I fish where they are a possibility, and if everything lines up right, it is almost guaranteed to be incredible fishing.”
– Jerry Audet, In Deep Outdoors, Massachusetts

Mullet (Photo by Tom Lynch – AngryFish.TV)

Article: The Northeast’s Mullet Run

Peanut Bunker

“Peanut Bunker. The absolute craziest blitzes I’ve seen have been fueled by peanuts.”
– Steve Gallant, Massachusetts

airborn peanut bunker
Peanut bunker flee from hungry stripers below. (Photo by Joey Manansala)

Related Article: The Peanut Bunker Boom

“This will sound crazy, but I don’t worry about bait too much in the fall. I search for the most productive migration highways and find areas that put me in the best position to intercept the bass on their way south.”
– Anthony Pizzella, Maine

Related Content

Fall Run Survival Guide: Essential Lures

Teasers for Fall Run Stripers

Have the Best Fall Run Ever

WATCH: Encore | Fall Run Finale – OTW Shorts

The post Baitfish of the Fall Run | Fall Run Survival Guide first appeared on On The Water.

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