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May 26, 2013

Live-Baiting for Stripers

Live-line a peanut bunker for Chesapeake Bay striped bass.

Maryland: Chesapeake Bay

Rods: Light- to medium-weight conventional or spinning rods with slow action.

Reels: Conventional or spinning in the 12- to 20-pound-class range. Spinning reels should have a free-spool function; try a Shimano Baitrunner or a Penn Live Liner.

Line: 12- to 20-pound-test monofilament. Braid does not work well when live-lining bunker because the lack of stretch and increased sensitivity allow the stripers to feel something's wrong, and they'll often spit the bait.

Baits: Live bunker.

Rigs: 4-foot-long 20- to 40-pound fluorocarbon with a snap swivel on one end and a 4/0 to 6/0 thin-wire circle hook on the other. Rigs should be weighted and/or unweighted and fished through varying levels of the water column until a bite pattern is established.

What: Striped bass.

When: May through June for snagging bunker, with peanuts for cast-netting coming on strong in late summer. The fall peanut bunker migration (late September through November) turns the heat up to maximum.

Where: Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, ranging from the Chester River to the Potomac River.

Who: You. Most guides do not put in the time and effort necessary to catch live bunker but instead fish with spot. If you'd like to give this a shot, you're on your own.