One of the most important, and often overlooked aspects of striper fishing is an understanding of their forage. Once you know where to find the bait, the stripers will not be far behind.
According to biologists, stripers do not generally eat other game fish. Their primary forage is shad in the southern states.
A study conducted by the Tennessee Department of Fisheries surveyed over 1,000 stripers over a four-year period. It was determined that while stripers consume great quantities of shad, they rarely target other species.
Stripers and hybrids are often introduced into lakes to help control the shad population. A large striper has no problem swallowing a 12- to 16-inch gizzard shad and then coming back for more.
Stripers may feed differently in different reservoirs and may feed differently in different parts of the same reservoir. Lake Whitney, for instance, will produce good catches of stripers on bream as well as shad. Generally, shad will out-produce bream on most days.
Minnows, small drum, and small carp in some areas may be more readily available for the stripers to eat. Many river fish will feed on this type forage when shad is not available.
The introduction of yellow bass on Benbrook by the pipeline from East Texas has provided alternate forage for hybrids on Benbrook. If those yellow bass are in the wrong place at the wrong time they can be devoured by hybrid striped bass.
Knowing the habits of the forage is key to locating stripers. Cold weather can push the bait to deeper water, and that’s where the predators will go. Warmer days in the winter will have the bait fish moving up to shallower water. Lake Granbury is so full of bait that finding the predators may be a little more difficult at times.
The striper population has been hurt on Granbury, Whitney and Possum Kingdom due to golden algae kills. The shad rebound quickly, but the larger predator fish can take years.
Gizzard shad are bright silvery blue-green on back, with silvery sides and a dull white belly. A dark spot behind the gill is common on younger gizzards, but may be absent from adults. They commonly reach 4 inches during the first year of life, and can grow as large as 21 inches.
They prefer sluggish rivers and soft-bottomed lakes. The fish is synonymous with mud. The fish are random, nocturnal group spawners in shallow bays, coves, or sloughs with no care given to the young.
Eggs are released near the surface of the water from late April or early May to early August at 50 to 70 degrees F. The eggs are adhesive and sink. Threadfin shad rarely grow larger than 9 inches in length. They exhibit a scaleless, strongly compressed head. The back is dark gray to bluish black while the sides are silvery. Fins are yellowish in color. A dark spot is common behind the gills.
Threadfin prefer large lakes and rivers with moderate current. They usually congregate in schools over deep water during the daylight hours.
HOOD COUNTY FISHING REPORT
Water temperatures are rebounding to the middle 50s. Granbury black bass fishing on the lower ends is good to excellent on soft plastics.
The sand bass spawning run on Granbury and for most every water body in North Texas has begun. Reports from several lakes and feeder creeks and rivers are reporting good catches. Striper fishing on Granbury is slow.
Squaw Creek black bass fishing continues to be excellent on soft plastics. Water temperatures on Squaw Creek (power plant lake) are in the 70s in many locations and fish are in the shallows or just adjacent to the shallows.
Benbrook, Bridgeport and Lewisville Hybrid Stripers are good on soft plastics worked in 20 to 30 feet of water. Possum Kingdom stripers are good to 7 pounds on the south arm. Whitney sand bass catches have been reported near Hamm’s Creek.
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