Enjoy Summer's Sunshine Bass
by Bob Papson
Principal Fisheries Biologist
August 1, 2005
Now that we're in the midst of the summer season and water temperatures are
at their highest levels, the fishing for a number of species can really slow down.
Not so for the hybrid striped bass, affectionately known as the "Sunshine Bass"
in the southern part of the country. This cross between a striped bass and a white
bass, raised at the division's Hackettstown
Hatchery, can tolerate warm water and are quite active at temperatures up
The large warm water lakes and reservoirs in which they are currently stocked,
Hopatcong and Spruce
Run and Manasquan
Reservoirs, are well suited to this pelagic fish. Hybrids thrive in open water
where they search for and feed on alewife herring and gizzard shad.
The striped bass hybrid is fast growing, reaching the legal size of 16 inches
before age 3. They can attain weights of over 10 pounds in New Jersey waters and
only a short life span (up to 7 years) keeps them from reaching striper size.
The typical hybrid caught from our waters weigh between 4 and 7 pounds. They are
a hard hitting and strong fighting fish.
with 8-lb. hybrid bass.
Click to enlarge
Summer is probably the most productive period for striped bass hybrids and
August seems to be the most productive month according to anglers at Spruce Run
Reservoir. Being an open water species, the hybrid can be found throughout the
deeper areas of the lake. However, during this period they are easier to locate
as they are confined to the upper water column as a result of low oxygen levels
in the deeper depths. During summer stratification they can be found suspended
just above the thermocline in depths from 12 to 18 feet depending on which lake
you fish. The shallower end of this range at Spruce Run Reservoir and the deeper
end at Lake Hopatcong.
the summer's sun is setting the sunshine bass are rising. Now is the time to enjoy
the excellent striped bass hybrid fishing opportunities offered at Lake Hopatcong,
Spruce Run and Manasquan Reservoirs.
Hopatcong is a hybrid hotspot!
Click to enlarge
They can be caught any time of the day but early morning and a couple of hours
before sunset are prime. Near sunset and after dark they may be found chasing
herring on the surface. Night fishing can be fast and furious if you are lucky
enough to be in hearing distance of hybrids on a feeding frenzy of surfacing herring
that make the water boil.
There are several simple and popular techniques for fishing hybrid striped
bass. One is drifting or anchoring and using live bait (herring or shiners) with
an egg sinker, slip bobber or live-lined. Another is flatline or down-rigger trolling
minnow style crank baits, herring or shiners. This is very effective and covers
a larger area. These baits or lures are generally fished just above the thermocline
during the summer. Casting crank baits to areas of feeding fish, especially at
night, can be very exciting and rewarding. Shoreline anglers are not left out
of the summerís hybrid action. Bottom fishing using night crawlers or chicken
livers can be quite successful.
Striped bass hybrid Information
Striped Bass Hybrid Fact Sheet (pdf, 20kb)
Warm and Coolwater Fish Stocked, 1994-2003
Warm and Coolwater Fish Stocked, 2004 (pdf, 30kb)