4 Technologies That Have Changed Striped Bass Fishing

Over the last decade, we’ve seen electronics play an increasingly larger role in finding and catching striped bass. These new technologies have opened up fisheries that were previously a mystery, and helped anglers find bait and stripers they’d have otherwise missed. Here are some of the most significant striped bass game-changers over the past decade.

1: CHIRP Sonar

Image: Simrad S5100 Sounder with CHIRP

Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse (or CHIRP) became available in recreational sonars around 2009. Instead of pinging a single frequency like traditional sonar, CHIRP sonar transmits a sweeping range of frequencies, which gathers much more information on each pulse, resulting in improved resolution and target separation. CHIRP also has improved bottom tracking at higher speeds, especially useful for fishermen seeking deep schools of bunker during the late fall in New Jersey and New York.
 
While schools of bunker swim at the surface during the spring and summer, in the fall these schools run silent and deep, leaving no visible clues to their presence. And unlike some baitfish, which orient to structure, bunker schools are in constant motion, bringing the stripers with them. Being able to read the telltale red blob of a bunker school while running at high speed between structures has allowed fishermen to catch stripers away from popular structures and the bird-chasing fleets.

CHIRPing Sonars

  • Lowrance Hook2 and Elite Ti2
  • Raymarine Element and Dragonfly
  • Simrad NSS evo3, NSO evo3, NSO evo2, and Go Series
  • Garmin Striker Series
  • Humminbird Helix G3/G3N Series

2: Bird-Finding Radar

Garmin Auto Bird Mode

Locating flocks of birds on radar was the stuff of rumor and legend 10 years ago; today, it’s become so prevalent that many manufacturers offer “bird mode” on their radars. This mode dials up the gain and reduces the clutter at the touch of a button, making it easier to find flocks over fish that are beyond binocular range (or locate nearby birds on foggy days). In the latter scenario, it’s wise to use a radar that allows for split-screen mode, with one set to search for birds and the other looking for boats to keep fishermen safe in the fog.
Fishermen can now scan huge swaths of ocean for the blitz, as open-array radars have a bird range of up to 5 miles, while domes can reliably locate birds from 3 miles away.

Flock-Finding Radars

  • Auto Bird available on Garmin GMR2526 xHD2 and GMR 2524 xHD2 radars
  • Bird Finder Mode available on Simrad Halo Pulse Compression radars
  • Bird Mode available on Raymarine HD Color Radomes and Magnum Open Array radars
  • Bird Mode available on Furuno DRS6A-NXT and DRS4D-NXT solid state
    Doppler radars
Side-scanning sonar allows you to cover ground and actively hunt for schools of fish.

3: Side-Scanning Sonar

To fully grasp how side-scanning sonars have changed the way we fish for stripers, look at Cape Cod Bay. In late summer, it serves as a staging area for stripers preparing to move south at the first sign of fall. This sandy-bottomed bay has relatively little structure, and the bass movements were difficult to predict. Trolling tube-and-worm jigs or swimming plugs was the primary tactic used for locating staging schools of big stripers. After dark, more daring anglers slowly putted along shorelines with their lights off, looking for large areas of “fire”—disturbed phosphorescent plankton—in the water to give away the location of a striper school. Not only was this method inefficient, it was terribly unsafe.
Around 2012, with the introduction of side-scanning sonar, fishermen could monitor wide swaths of water, 200-plus feet on either side of their boats, in order to locate these schools of stripers. While the bass still moved unpredictably, fishermen became more efficient in searching for them, and catch rates skyrocketed.

Side-Scanning Sonars

    • Humminbid Mega Side Imaging available on Solix Mega SI+ G2 and Helix Mega SI+ GPS G3N
    • Simrad StructureScan available on NSS evo3, NSS evo2, and NSO evo3
  • Lowrance SideScan available on Hook2 and Elite Ti2
  • Lowrance StructureScan available on HDS Live
  • Garmin SideVu available on Striker Plus 9sv and Striker Plus 7sv
Side-scanning sonar allows you to see up to 200 feet on either side of your boat.(Image: Simrad Structure Scan)

4: GPS-Connected Trolling Motors

The ability to “anchor” your boat without having to drop or pull an anchor allows fishermen to check more spots with greater efficiency. While bottom fishermen immediately saw the potential for picking apart wrecks and reefs, striper fishermen later began using this technology in rips and around bridges, areas where it is unsafe to drop an anchor.

GPS-connected trolling motors are a great alternative to dropping an anchor.

GPS-trolling motor connectivity allows for hands-free navigation, both in a straight line or following a predetermined path, all while correcting for wind and current. Striper fishermen have just begun to explore this potential by using it to work shorelines or follow schools of bait and fish, or even to slow-troll live baits.

GPS-Connected Trolling Motors

  • Minn Kota iPilot System available for Riptide Terrova and Riptide PowerDrive
    trolling motors
  • MotorGuide PinPoint GPS module available on Xi Series trolling motors

16 thoughts on “4 Technologies That Have Changed Striped Bass Fishing

  1. mark

    And striper stocks continue to slide. One would think we were hunting enemy submarines. Where does this end?

    1. George R Keller

      Please check articles about Nuclear Reactors in your Fishing area! They suck in millions of gallons daily to cool their reactor ! With that water they kill literally millions of fry & small fish ! I read an article in the Courier Post several years ago (you should be able to archive it) about Salem Nuclear Plant ! It kills millions of fish some larger ones but as a I said multi million od fry ! It is the dirty secret that all Nuclear Reactors & there owner do not want the fishing or environmentalist know about ! That is where & why your fishing is not as productive as it should be ! Pass it on!

      1. Matthew Patrick McCollum

        Hey George if you don’t live in a log cabin heat with wood no electric and ride a horse for transportation then your part of the problem. You probably own all the latest electronics

  2. Robert

    I keep hearing that the Striper stocks are Dwindling, while I believe its the Commercial net fisherman doing the most damage, I still believe were going about Protecting the Stock for future generations all wrong, If Im correct Females start laying Eggs around the 28 inch mark and that’s where there Legal Size to harvest,,,, Most Striper fisherman want a 15 incher to Eat, Don’t get me wrong we love to catch that Big Cow to release but she is no Good for Eating, and being alive so long she has too much Mercury at that size. If the law was changed to 1 fish Daily 12- 28 inches the Keepers that fisherman are taking home because that’s all there allowed to take home would still be laying eggs producing more Stripers and after just 1 fish we wouldn’t be allowed anymore to take home for the day would save Millions of Eggs. I communicated this with a Wildlife Officer (Game Warden) while fishing for Striped Bass down Nantasket Beach and he agreed with me.. I caught 23 Strpers since Late August of 2018 but no Keepers at or over 28 inches, all were released and none died, but its too bad we cant take a smaller fish home to eat and I believe taking the big ones that Lay eggs is just plain stupid at best…

  3. Paul

    Mark that’s a silly response. Aside from probably the bird scanning radar, none of the above mentioned technologies were developed specifically for striper fishing. They were all adapted for fresh and saltwater fishing after being developed for other purposes- say submarine hunting, etc.

  4. LOU

    TIME FOR A 100 PROOF CAPTAIN MORGAN NIP AND 40 ONCE MILLER TO CHASE IT DOWN WHILE I LOOK FOR BIRDS.

  5. mark

    I realize that they were developed for uses other than striper fishing. My point is that stocks are dwindling and we are using more technology to target more stripers so they are vulnerable to more mortality whether we are keeping them or not. Depending on the circumstances (water temp/salinity, gear, etc.) catch and release mortality can be significant. Just because you release a fish doesn’t mean it lives. To say that “advances” in technology have no bearing on fish mortality flies in the face of what the technology is being used for – its to find and catch more fish – yes? How many people use cell phones to alert their pals of found fish?
    Yes the commercial guys bear some blame for this, as does pollution, as does commercial harvest of forage fish like bunker. But we as rec anglers need to face up to our part in this as well.

  6. Keith

    The reason why we had a massive amount of stripers first of all is because they closed the whole fishery down in the early 80s . Virginia and Maryland went to the natal rivers and stripped the eggs from the breeder stock and raised them to fingerlings , but them back in the rivers , millions of them.Its been a huge success until 10 years ago when the young of the year finding have dramatically dropped. Between then and a few years ago everything was good. I for one don’t know if fisherman realize that there are so many more people fishing now, that these fish Never ever get a break, when they head up the rivers to spawn they have to go through the commercial netter’s in Virginia. If they make it through hopefully the conditions are good for spawning,then they leave the Chesapeake and other natal waters and are targeted all the way up the coast. Taking a beating. look at pictures of the Jersey shore a fisherman every 20 yards,plus charter boats private boats ect . Not picking on N.J. picture every state the Bass travel through .My solution…. All fisherman rec.and commercial pay 10 dollars each to Virginia and Maryland Dept of fisheries to once again strip the remaining spawning females and start the process again ,and if you have 5 years of subpar spawning repeat.

    1. Igor Vasiljuk

      I agree, everyone should pay extra $$$ so they can do something about it!

  7. LOU

    LIKE I SAID BEFORE, USE RUBBER HOOKS AND THEY SHOULD MAKE A COMEBACK. AND HAVE A SNAGGING SEASON ON SEALS LIKE WE USED TO HAVE AT LAKE ONTERIO,NY

  8. kk

    Robert, I agree I’d like to see a slot limit, but given how sensitive Stripers are to handling, I’d have to imagine most fish landed on party boats for example are not going to survive being netted, flopping on a deck, held up for a picture, and then a 10 foot drop back in the water.

    Keith’s idea is probably more easy to execute, since it’s not far off from what most states do in regards to stocking of their trout populations.

  9. Jack

    Me I hop in my 14 foot yacht powered by a 9.9 outboard. I head to the spots in the rivers or bay where I know the fish hang and fish. No fancy anything and I do VERY well. I keep 2 stripers at 28″ per year all the rest are released.

  10. Matthew Patrick McCollum

    Hey George if you don’t live in a log cabin heat with wood no electric and ride a horse for transportation then your part of the problem. You probably own all the latest electronics

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