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Where to look for striped bass in Nova Scotia

Striped bass in the Shubenacadie River.
Striped bass in the Shubenacadie River. - Contributed

Reel Time

This week I would like to discuss the opportunities you have to fish striped bass. Unfortunately, striped bass no longer migrate along the South Shore so you will have to travel a bit to fish for them.

A few popular spots to catch striped bass are throughout the Bay of Fundy, especially the tidal waters of the Gaspereau River and the Annapolis River. Striped bass may also be found in and around the tidal waters of the Stewiacke and Shubenacadie rivers. I have also caught striped bass in the Bras d’Or Lake and in the Margaree River in Cape Breton.

Striped bass are on their spawning run and will travel in schools and stay in certain areas for most of the summer. When travelling to the Bay of Fundy, remember that the tides are extreme so your window for fishing is only a few hours around high tide.

Striped bass can grow to 50 plus pounds, so your tackle needs to be adjusted accordingly. Regular spinning gear may be over taxed if you catch a large fish so I would suggest that you upgrade to a surf fishing setup with larger reels, 30-50 pound test line and a 10-foot rod. This will ensure that if, and when, you hook a bass, you have the gear to land it.

Fishing for striped bass can be done in three different ways:

1. Most people fish bait (herring, gaspereau or mackerel parts) that is attached to heavy weights and let the bait sit on the bottom until a fish finds the bait and eats it.

2. Some folks like to fish action baits, large spoons or plastics that are thrown out and retrieved. This is a lot like mackerel fishing.

3. The other option is fly fishing. I would suggest a nine or 10-foot rod with a 20-pound test leader. All large minnow patterns will work and there are also specially-made striped bass flies.

I was talking to a fisherman a few days ago and he uses a whole gaspereau as bait and lets it lay on the bottom. He showed me pictures of three fish that he had caught with this method and they were all over 30 pounds. Now, that sounds like a good day fishing.

This brings up the next important point: How many and what size of striped bass can you keep? Refer back to your Nova Scotia Anglers’ Handbook because there are bag limits and size limits that vary from region to region and at different times of the year. As always, make sure that you know the rules before you head out to fish.

Striped bass populations are exploding and each year there are more and more coming into our bays, estuaries and rivers. They can be easy to catch but put up a good fight. As an added bonus, striped bass are also great to eat. Fry them up, stuff them and bake them or add the fish to a tried-and-true recipe. Do not forget that both mackerel and smallmouth bass are in their summer zones, which means that they are easy to catch.

Remember, you do not always have to catch fish to have a great time fishing in the great outdoors of Nova Scotia.

Bass tournaments coming up include the two-day Atlantic Bass Open on July 22 and 23 on Ponhook Lake in Queens County and the Superbass by the Lakeside Smallmouth Bass Club on July 28 and 29 on Raynards Lake in Yarmouth County.

Carroll Randall owns and operates dacaraFishin out of Lunenburg County and is a Nova Scotia Licensed Fishing Guide. He offers guided fishing adventures and fishing schools. To book a trip or to find out more, call 902-212-1508 or email dacara@eastlink.ca. 

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