The popularity of Striped Bass in the Atlantic Provinces is easy to recognize, and easy to understand. The internet abounds with photos of big stripers being caught consistently from May to November from shorelines across the Maritime provinces. The focus of this attention on striped bass is obviously on the countless 30+” fish and the consistent 40+ Fish coming from the Bay of Fundy and the from select areas of the Northumberland Strait. But very few anglers would pass up an opportunity to consistently catch hard fighting 3 pound striped bass from shore on light gear, from clear water, using typical smallmouth bass tactics. This is a fishing opportunity that is underappreciated, and deserves more attention from all anglers as a prime shore fishing opportunity all summer long.
A “schoolie” striped bass would be those fish typically not exceeding 20” and a couple pounds. These schoolies are found throughout all of the striped bass populations including the Bay of Fundy however, it’s the schoolies of the Northumberland Strait that deserve the attention because of how they can be targeted, with medium action gear and artificial baits. While schoolies are found in the Bay of Fundy also, the heavy rods, heavy line, and heavy weights that are required to fish the Inner Bay of Fundy and the Minas Basin aren’t suited to get full enjoyment from catching schoolie sized striped bass.
Locating schoolies in consistent numbers is the difficult part of targeting these fish. River mouths in the Northumberland Strait (especially those with a bridge or other current break along deeper water) are about the easiest to start with because you can find them on Google Maps and they consistently hold fish. Wharfs, causeways, rock breakwalls, creek channels, beaches, anywhere you can access structure and water depths exceeding 8 to 10 feet deep can hold schoolie stripers at times throughout the summer and fall months that can be easily targeted from shore. Tide is always a factor, and sometimes it takes some effort and a few trips to an area to figure out what tide works best for that specific area (high tide is not always key for all locations), but the benefit to putting the effort into finding these fish is that in the right location and the right tide cycle, you can find yourself on a school of striped bass that numbers into the hundreds, and they’re not shy about eating.
To really get the most out of schoolies, leave the surf casting gear at home; the same gear you would use for smallmouth bass or pickerel is well suited to these fish. Ideal equipment would be a 7 foot medium rod, 15 pound braided line, 15 pound fluro leader, and a selection of moving baits that includes swimbaits, topwaters, jigs, jerkbaits, flukes, inline spinners, spoons and more. When schoolies are in an area it is rare that they will ignore a fast moving bait, and the more fish that are in the area the more likely they are to aggressively feed. Find a bait you are confident in as you try to locate fish, and be willing to cover water until you locate numbers of fish. When you find them, take note of the time of day and the tide to help with patterning these schools of fish.
Finding schoolie striped bass can be intimidating, the Northumberland Strait is not a small body of water. But it’s no understatement to say that schoolie striped bass can be anywhere along the entire Northumberland shoreline. The best approach when starting out is to commit to spending a few hours in an area, and exploring all of the available access points along the shoreline in that area. The more time you spend covering water, the better your odds are of coming across a few of these schoolie stripers, and the better your odds become of putting a pattern together that will allow you to catch these schoolie stripers throughout the summer and fall seasons.