For a Northeast angler, no event in the year is as highly anticipated as the return of the striped bass. Every season, we talk with tackle shop owners, charter captains, and striper-obsessed fishermen to put together our weekly Striper Migration Map from mid-March to late June. Here’s what we’ve learned from the past 7 years of following the spring striped bass migration, with a week-by-week look at how the 2022 spring run played out.
2015: The migration started after a long winter brought quite a lot of snow to the Northeast. However, by mid-June, striped bass fishing exploded between New Jersey and Maine.
2016: Warm winter weather led to an early kickstart to the migration. Big stripers hunkered down around the New York Bight and Raritan Bay, while migratory schoolies made a surprise mid-April appearance on Cape Cod.
2017: March saw frigid temperatures that delayed the Chesapeake spawn and, subsequently, the first large push of bass up the coast. Interestingly, some 30-pound-class fish hightailed it north to reach Cape Cod by mid-May.
2018: Anglers in southern New England waited patiently for the first push of migratory bass after a long, cold spring. Meanwhile, Long Island’s South Shore enjoyed a prolonged run as stripers lackadaisically cruised toward Cape Cod.
2019: Although stripers are typically more bait oriented during the fall run, acres of menhaden caused bass of all sizes to congregate around northern New Jersey and Long Island before continuing north after a temperate winter.
2020: Late March saw the start of the pandemic while a push of large bass in the 20-pound range hit New Jersey’s shores. Schoolies flooded the coast in the following weeks, and trophy bass were plucked from beneath bunker schools throughout the summer into early autumn.
2021: Large schools of bunker and mild water temperatures nearly mirrored 2020’s spring migration. However, the widespread absence of big bass left many anglers concerned that they were seeing the documented decline of larger stripers in real time.
March 25, 2022
In late March, striped bass progressed upstream toward spawning grounds in the Chesapeake Bay tributaries. At the same time, schoolie striped bass moved into the warming backwaters of southern and central New Jersey while fish from the Hudson River stock headed into Raritan Bay to feed.
April 1, 2022
Cold temperatures hampered the spawn in Chesapeake tributaries. In New Jersey, schoolie striped bass increased in numbers, congregating in temperate back bays. Long Island’s west end saw the season’s first wave of slot fish.
April 8, 2022
The Raritan Bay lit up with a big push of bass to 40 inches. Heavy rains and dirty water hampered fishing in the Hudson River. There were still no reports of migratory fish in Rhode Island.
April 15, 2022
Raritan Bay and the western Long Island Sound produced large stripers while warming temperatures in the Chesapeake sent spawning stripers into the tributaries. The first migratory striped bass of the year reached Martha’s Vineyard.
April 22, 2022
Warm weather and sunshine ignited the spawn in Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Big bass headed up the Delaware River to spawn while migratory schoolies pushed east into Long Island’s North and South Shore bays.
April 29, 2022
The spawn commenced in the Delaware River and big bass progressed up the Hudson River to do the same. Migratory schoolies pushed through Long Island Sound into Rhode Island and the South Shore of Massachusetts.
Week 5 Video: South Fork Stripers with Tim Regan (Long Island)
May 6, 2022
Post-spawn striped bass began to leave the Chesapeake tributaries and headed for the ocean. Slot-sized bass reached Montauk in decent numbers, and large quantities of smaller bass reached southern New England.
May 13, 2022
The appearance of large striped bass in the surf off central New Jersey indicated that post-spawn Chesapeake fish had reached the Northeast. The spawn got underway in the Hudson River, while bass to 30 pounds entered Narragansett Bay to feed on bunker.
Week 7 Video: Stripers on Bucktails with John Skinner (Long Island)
May 20, 2022
A few 30-pound striped bass moved through the Cape Cod Canal as part of a big wave of slot-size fish. Connecticut’s tidal rivers had increasing numbers of 30-inch bass; at the same time, spawning continued in the Hudson River.
May 27, 2022
Long, skinny bass arrived hungry in New Jersey as another wave of big, post-spawn fish from the Chesapeake arrived to feed on bunker. Large stripers left the Hudson River and entered Long Island Sound; meanwhile, larger stripers reached Boston Harbor.
June 3, 2022
Montauk fishing was on fire as big stripers reached the east end of Long Island. Bass to 40 pounds fed along the Elizabeth Islands and into Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Fish as large as 40 inches were reported in Casco Bay, Maine.
June 10, 2022
The South Shore of Long Island had a nice run of large striped bass feeding on bunker. Fish to 50 pounds were reported in Boston Harbor, and Buzzards Bay saw a push of bigger striped bass.
June 17, 2022
Large stripers settled into Massachusetts’ South Shore, where massive schools of bunker had moved in. In Long Island Sound, there were regular 40-pounders around bunker schools and tidal river mouths. As big bass continued to feed off northern New Jersey’s oceanfront, larger fish vacated Raritan Bay and headed out of the surf.
June 24, 2022
Stripers settled into Montauk, Block Island, and outer Boston Harbor, where many spent the summer. Eastern Long Island Sound continued to fish well for trophy stripers around bunker schools, and 30-pound bass reached Maine in reasonable numbers.
July 1, 2022
Big bass settled into summer haunts across the coast. As water temperatures climbed, schools of larger fish hunkered down in areas with an abundance of bait, including Long Island, Boston Harbor, and Plymouth, Massachusetts.