2016 Striper Migration Map
The striper migration has begun! A mild winter has water temperatures much warmer than the same time last year, and striped bass are on the move, heading from overwintering areas several miles off North Carolina and moving toward their spawning grounds in Chesapeake Bay.
In the main stem of the Chesapeake, water temperatures are slowly creeping up and presently holding around 47° on the surface and about 40° on the bottom. Smaller male striped bass are moving into the spawning tidal rivers and the larger females are entering the bay and working their way toward the major spawning tidal rivers. Water temperatures in the Susquehanna Flats area are bouncing around 50° or so, and there are some male striped bass in the area.
According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant warm water discharge has been a popular spot to jig for these fish. Anyone wishing to give trolling a try is reminded that each boat is restricted to 6 lines, barbless hooks and no stinger hooks while trolling during this catch and release period. The spring trophy striped bass season opens on April 16.
Absecon Bay Sportsman Center has reported stripers in the backwaters from Great Egg to Great Harbor, in the Tuckahoe and the Mullica. Keeper-sized fish have been caught at Gravelling Point. Soaking clams should being to turn up some stripers in Raritan Bay any day now.
Backwater areas on the West End of the island have started to give up some schoolie stripers. Anglers have also reported impressive amounts of bait for the early season, including herring and bunker.
The holdover striper fishing has been particularly good in the tidal rivers. The Housatonic remains a hot bed for schoolies, and also continues to put up the best quality fish of all the rivers. Better numbers are starting to come from the Connecticut and the Thames. The Providence River and Narrow River typically holds some holdover stripers, but reports from these areas have been dismal. Anglers are predicting that the first sea-lice covered schoolies will likely show up along the Rhode Island coast by the first week of April.
Cape Cod/ Massachusetts
Holdover striped bass have been reported in tidal waters on and off the Cape, along with the first few scout herring. Boston Harbor, and particularly the Mystic River, have also given up a few holdover schoolie stripers.