Talk about a long wait. Spring stripers finally made a showing along South County beaches and salt ponds then just like that, they swarmed the state. Fishermen and women as far east as Cape Cod and the islands are loving waves of lice-covered fish which, according to many, represents baggage from a long migration. We have enjoyed an abundance of bait for the last few years with relatively mild winter water temperatures so just like that, word has spread like wildfire. They may run north with their favorite oily menhaden but if your southern beach is a blank just hold on for a few weeks, they’ll be back and you’ll be armed and ready to catch them with our top five Spring striper lures list.
That bit about sea lice is likely true but not an absolute. They target large schools of fish, like bass so once “new” fish arrive and start mingling with holdovers who know crabs are emerging and baitfish are back, lice will spread easily between the two. Although there are dozens of marine lice species, generally they are ectoparasites, meaning they survive on blood and mucus on gills and skins. Charming.
They also have a low tolerance for high salinity waters in the range of 32ppt so they won’t stick on these fish for long.
As we get back in the groove of catching, please remember to release fish carefully. Support their centers when taking pictures or even better, try to get your shot while they’re still in the water, without going for a swim yourself. New fish have traveled hundreds of miles while trying to stay alive and find food so they don’t need the stress of two minutes topside while you fumble for a phone.
So, in no particular order…
Our Top Five Spring Striper Lures
Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow
For early striper success, you need to cover water and options. 6” SP Minnows benefit from a unique weight transfer system for excellent, moving retrieves either on a slow rewind or when ripping it through whitewater. They are West Wall long-casting favorites and with ten color patterns to help you mimic whatever schoolies are feeding on, you will still reach mostly for bone and black/purple. That dynamite side-to-side wiggle is irresistible and they’re built tough. I swap out the trebles for singles to reduce lip damage and stresses from trying to undo multiple hooks in multiple places.
Saltwater Edition Al’s Goldfish Fish Wrap Writer Special Edition in 3/4 oz.
It’s not really shameless self-promotion if the lure actually performs. This new version of the long casting 1.25oz. original is built for coastal features where stripers and bluefish forage and it really shines on distant casts. We designed it with hard baked paints, custom tied teaser, 3/0 VMC J hook and a wobble and flutter that salt species can’t ignore. It has the versatility of being cast or jigged. Its 4.5” total lure & hook length and light 3/4oz. weight means it casts like a bullet. Steady retrieve and tie it directly to a 20# fluorocarbon leader for the best action. And it’s all made in America.
That’s almost unheard of in the tackle business.
Proven versatility is king in the striper world
Live Target 5” Slow Roll Shiner
Paddle swim baits are essential now for fooling predatory fish like bass, who will key in on the rolling action of this plastic. The Live Target 5″ Slow Roll Shiner matched with a 1/8 or 1/4oz. jig head set in reverse direction of the tail, which means tail down, hook up. Tail up, hook down, is just fantastic. Offered in six color patterns, I like those silver and blue for open water and the silver and brown for more shallow waters under cloudy skies.
You can dart it if you feel bass are hesitant but a steady retrieve produces a smooth action that produces strikes that produces fish stories.
Z-Man 3/8 oz. Willowvibe Jighead
With stainless steel hardware and black nickel hooks, Z-Man Rapid Vibration Bladed Jigheads are perfect for soft plastics when targeting stripers. That willow blade adds flash and movement to your baits and has earned a spot in my inshore tackle bag as a necessity. It’s really fantastic to add something to catch freshwater species then find out its killer in the sea.
They are well made and have a wire bait keeper to ensure everything stay put after multiple casts and battles.
You want fish? Think big and bold and loud and crazed
Shimano Coltsniper Splash Walk
This topwater lures is a game changer in every sense for our top five Spring striper lures list. Even with a garage full of tackle, I’ve never witnessed a saltwater topwater lure with such unreal action. Plain truth: when you understand how to work your rod tip with just a touch of slack to make it splash left, right, left, right, then you will see stripers attack it. They don’t approach it, they try to destroy it. It’s an unreal design and while it takes some patience and practice to work its 7-1/4″, 3-3/8oz. frame properly, you will be amazed at its power to call in big fish. Ralph Craft at Crafty One Customs put me on a Jigging World Black Widow BWS150 to handle it with ease and power.