New England is a prime location for striped bass fishing. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, it’s important to know how to catch stripers with sandworms.
There are many go to baits to catch Striped Bass, you can use Live Eels, Fresh Clam Belly, Live or Fresh Menhaden aka Bunker, but my favorite Striped Bass Live bait is the Sandworms. The sandworm is not the most popular choice for catching striped bass, they are most often used to target Fluke, or Porgy. Sandworms can be either dug up in tidal flats during low tide, or you can visit a nearby tackle shop and pick up a box.
Believe it or not, how you rig the worm and what terminal tackle you use does matter. Worms work amazingly well, as Striped Bass just love to eat them. You must also know how to bait your hook with a live worm, and the type of hook and terminal tackle to use is key.
Hooking live worms for fishing is not for the squeamish so if you don’t like to get your hands dirty or are afraid of touching a live sandworm for fishing then this is not for you. Don’t worry I will show you how to rig an artificial worm for fishing as well if you have trouble rigging a Iive worm.
I fish the Northeast my favorite areas include the New York and Connecticut waters. These waters include the the Long Island Sound and the Shorelines of Connecticut, and New York, especially focusing on the Rivers, Harbors, and Rocky Shorelines. Striped Bass invade the area in early to mid Spring for the spawn, and stick around till well after November. I have spent years targeting and perfecting my techniques. These waters offer the ideal environment for Striped Bass
What kinds of Worms should I use for Fishing?
Striped Bass love Sandworms, Blood worms and Lugworms. These are the live worm baits that I recommend; to consistently catch Striped Bass. You will also be pleasantly surprised that a lot of other species of fish enjoy this bait as well. Once you master how to rig a worm on a circle hook you will consistently catch Fluke, Bluefish, Porgies, Weakfish and much more. Remember to conceal the hook.
Where do I find Sandworms?
You can purchase live Sandworms, Blood worms or Lugworms at your local tackle shop. On Long Island, New York they sell the Sandworms live by the dozen for about $12.00 to15.00. The Lugworms are about $8.50-10.00 for a box.
If you are feeling adventurous you can dig for your own Sandworms at low tide. Make your way out on the exposed sandbars during low tide. Just bring a claw rake and a bucket and boots. Start scraping the sand to find your own worms. This can be an enjoyable activity, especially for the kids. They will find it fun to cull the bait and then use it to catch fish, this builds a sense of accomplishment for everyone, you can save a few bucks as well. Or just hit the tackle shop if you don’t make the low tide adventure.
Some towns require you purchase a worming permit, which is very inexpensive just make sure you check your local ordinances before you start digging.
How do I keep Sandworms alive?
You can store you sandworms, blood worms and lugworms in a refrigerator in the container they came in for up to a week. You can also get a bucket of saltwater and attach a bait fish aerator, and place your sandworms, in the bucket. Lively baits always will out perform weak and low energy baits.
What kind of Hook should I use for live bait?
What is the benefit of using Circle Hooks for Striped Bass fishing?
Using circle hooks will reduce the occurrences of gut-hooking which can cause injuries to internal organs of the fish. If a striped bass swallows the bait. Circle hooks are designed to slide out from its throat and then the hook catches onto the corner of its mouth and jaw. This makes for an easy catch and release of a healthy fish, to live another day and maybe to be caught again. This helps the eco-system and fishery improve.
What tools do I need to Hook a Worm?
You will only need a fishing rag to handle the worm, and to thread the worm onto the hook shank. Remember to conceal the hook from tip to eyelet. Striped Bass are finicky, and very hook shy.
How do I rig a Circle Hook with a Live Worm?
Step 1: Grab your worm from your bucket.
Step 2: Place your fishing rag on your lap and place your worm on the rag so you can grab it easily.
Step 3: Insure you use a larger Circle Hook 7.0 and larger, tied to a Fluorocarbon Leader with a Snell knot or Improved Cinch knot, or Palomar knot to your hook. The Leader should be around 36″ with a heavy duty barrel swivel on the other end. Tie the other end of the swivel to the main line but first add a Fish Finder Sinker Rig before you tie the mainline to the swivel which is attached to the leader and hook.
Step 4: Pick up your worm and slide mouth first onto the point of your circle hook. The point of the circle hook is inserted into the mouth of the sandworm and then slide the body of the worm through the shank of the hook until you reach the top of the hook at the eyelet. Depending on how long your sandworm is this could be half of the worm’s body. Let the remaining part of the worm dangle naturally – try and conceal the pointed end of the hook the fish will puncture the worms body exposing the hook tip and will get hooked. The goal is to cover the hook with the worm so the fish do not see the hook, Striped Bass are very skittish and hook shy. Your goal is to have the fish only see, smell and taste the worm.
Step 5: You are almost ready to fish. Before you drop your worm into the water; add a 1 ounce round ball sinker to that fish finder rig attached to the main line, the weight you add will depending on the current of the water you are fishing in. You want the worm presentation to be on or near the bottom but able to flow freely with the current as to look natural to the fish. Ok now hold on and be ready to calmly bow to the cow prior to firmly in a non-jerking motion set the circle hook. The circle hook will find its way to the corner of the fishes mouth.
If you are fishing in deep water look for under water structure, bass love rocky areas. For the backwater, Striped Bass always look for moving water, look for draining or filling estuaries these streams are baitfish roadways, as baitfish flush in or out of these channels with every tide. If you find the bait, the predators are nearby. Bass tend to sit on the outside of Incoming rising tides and on the outside on outgoing falling tide of these waterways where they lie and wait for a meal (the bait fish) will pass by heading for nutrient rich and safe backwater grasslands, or getting flushed out with the falling water. Insure you drift, or troll past these drains or near them to allow your boat, kayak, or paddle board to navigate so the baits go over these fertile areas.
Oh, You Will Know You Caught A Fish?
You will see and hear the line peeling off your reel as the striped bass grab the bait and begin to swim away with it. But striped bass are subtle, you may feel a little bump on the line do not jerk the pole up as they smell and may spit out the bait once or twice before they decide to commit fully and eat the offering. Don’t react so aggressive on the first bump, instead wait and the fish will hook themselves, just let them nibble the bait and wait for the tug of commitment. Once hooked reel calmly but firmly so you land your fish. If your hooks are sharp the slightest pressure will stick the fish.
How do I release my fish without hurting it?
Hopefully you are practicing catch and release and setting your fish free after a quick photo without hurting it is a good idea. I recommend purchasing a Boga Grip and good pair of fishing pliers, or medical forcips.
Use your Boga Grip to hold your fish from the lip of the mouth and remove the hook gently with your hand, pliers, or forcipes. Once the hook is removed dip your fish back in the water holding it from the tail, and let the fish get the water flowing through it’s gills, once the fish is revived and moving, release it.
Can I keep the Striped Bass that I caught for dinner?
Striped bass is one of the most delicious fish you can eat, the meat is considered superb. There are many ways to prepare Striped Bass. You may want to simply broil your Striper filet basted in butter with herbs. But before you Catch and Filet your Striper you must insure you are aware of the Local Regulations. Rules and Regulations differ from state to state on what is allowed to be kept. If you measure your Striped Bass and it is of legal size then you can keep your fish, bleed it and put it on ice, bring home and prepare it to your liking and Enjoy…Fish-On!