by howie & dawn hundley
Surface Plugging Stripers
Striped Bass are one of the most sought after fish, not only for their delicious flesh but also the awesome fights they put up. They live in salt and fresh water and are fierce predators that strike fear in the hearts of bait fish and a gleam in the eye of the angler!
Surface plugging stripers is an art and a science that becomes addictive due to its heart- stopping strikes and crazy fights. Fortunately for Harford County anglers, the Susquehanna is a prime place to practice this art.
Tackle is simple: a long medium-action rod to get the plug out and set the hook hard and fast, a reel (spinning or bait casting), quality 15-20lb test mono filament or braided line, some good surface plugs, such as Zara Spooks and Super Spooks from Heddon Lure Co., Mirro Lure Top Dog, IMA Little Stik Baits, Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers etc. AND . . . determination!
The method of fishing is easy: cast to a likely patch of water; retrieve your lure in a zigzag pattern, rhythmically bouncing your rod to create a swimming action or a jerk; stop jerk and retrieve, ‘popping’ your plug on the surface to attract the striper’s attention.
Then, look out! The strikes are fast and explosive and you have only a fraction of a second to react, set your hook and the fight is on! Stripers feed in low light conditions early and late in the day and over night in the late summer and fall. Casting plugs during the day is usually not very productive at all, but you never know! I like to get up before sunrise, grab a strong cup of coffee, head out to the Susquehanna River getting to the water at first light. Upon arrival, I listen and look for surface action which is frequent as the river is teaming with life! I then tie on a plug and cast towards the noises I hear or the splashes I see. It usually doesn’t take very long for the first strike and hopefully the first fish!
My two favorite spots on the river are the mouth of Deer Creek and the tail race at Conowingo Dam. There are countless places along the river to try and I recommend doing just that. Sometimes you catch a big one where you least expect it! Please practice catch and release fishing and flatten the barbs on hooks or put barbless single hooks on plugs.