Best Time to Catch Striped Bass: Bass O’Clock

July 27, 2020

Best Time to Catch Striped Bass: Bass O’Clock

Striped bass are one of the top targeted species for surf fishing. They’re an apex predator in the shallow waters and are common on both coasts of the United States. They fight like crazy when hooked, and make for great eating if prepared correctly. You’ve heard of fishermen on your local beach catching them, but when is the best time to catch striped bass?

We’ll cover that and more in this article! The best time to catch striped bass often depends on the season and the type of bait your using. We’ll cover all of that as well as what the best tackle for catching striped bass is, how to find striped bass in the surf, and general striped bass fishing tips. Striped bass are one of the top fished species in Finn’s fishing community. We’re excited to share what we’ve learned while fishing for them. Let’s dive in!

When is The Best Time to Catch Striped Bass?

The best time to catch striped bass is 2 hours before and after high tide. The incoming tide carries baitfish and food from the open ocean to near shore. This is when striped bass enjoy feeding the most, and is your best chance at catching them. 

Other factors you should consider when picking the best time to catch striped bass is what the weather is like. You should also pay attention to the time of day. Striped bass tend to feed around dawn and dusk, and enjoy cooler/overcast weather more than direct sunlight. Considering all these factors, the best overall time to catch striped bass is when the high tide is mid-morning. It should also be a cooler, overcast day.

What Are Striped Bass?

Before we get into the best tackle for catching striped bass, we thought it made sense to quickly go over how to identify striped bass. Striped bass (also called ‘stripers’) and are a silvery green fish with black stripes running down the sides of their bodies. They can live in both saltwater and freshwater environments and often enjoy living in brackish coastal waters. Most strip bass grow up to 30 lbs, but the record weighed in a 125 lbs! 

Striped bass live on both coasts of North America and range from Canada all the way down to the northern Gulf of Mexico. Their spawning season begins in spring and goes through summer into early fall. Striped bass love eating many different types of creatures that live in the surf. They enjoy eating small fish, various crustaceans, plankton, shrimp, sand fleas, and worms.

Best Tackle for Catching Striped Bass

Now that you know what the best time to catch striped bass is, let’s talk about the best tackle for striped bass. We recommend getting a medium to large surf fishing reel paired with a medium to large surf fishing rod. When surf fishing for striped bass, we like to size up on our rods and reels. This extends our casting capabilities and is a safeguard in case you hook into a shark or other larger fish. As with most surf fishing, for striped bass we like to use a fish finder rig with either squid or shrimp as bait or common surf fishing lures.

If you’re fishing for striped bass from a boat, we recommend getting a medium-sized saltwater spinning reel and appropriately sized saltwater rod. Striped bass will go after many common shore fishing lures, as well as lures you would use from a pier. We like topwater plugs and Kastmaster spoons the most for striped bass.

Best Season for Catching Striped Bass

Striped bass can be caught year-round, but fishing for them close to their spawning season is usually the most prolific. The spring and fall months tend to be the best for striped bass on both coasts. These months are when the striped bass begin to run for their spawning season and will be more active close to shore. Many of the baitfish that striped bass enjoy feeding on also spawn during this time period, which makes catching them easier as well. We also pay attention to the lunar cycle; we’ve found that we get more striped bass bites during the full moon. This is most likely because the tide swings are larger and it’s easier for them to hunt at night with the extra light.

How to Surf Fish for Striped Bass

We covered how to surf fish for striped bass in more detail earlier this year, but here’s a quick refresher on basic technique.

  1. Before casting your bait or surf fishing lure out into the surf, look for deeper areas where the waves aren’t breaking as much. These ‘pools’ are often hideout of striped bass and a great place to cast your bait. You can also look for shallow locations after where a wave breaks as a potential striped bass hunting ground.
  2. Cast your bait towards the target spot. You’ll often want to cast close to as far out as you can, but if you find a pool that looks promising give it a soak.
  3. Once your bait has hit the bottom, set the bail on your reel and reel in line until you can feel your weight. If you’re casting lures, try and retrieve them like a wounded baitfish.

Soaking Your Bait

  1. Now it’s time to wait. You can either hold your rod in your hand or set it in your holder. If there are other species in the area that will take your bait, we recommend holding onto your rod to make sure you don’t lose it.
  2. If you see anything weird going on with the tip of your rod, check it out and see what’s on the other end. A scavenger may have bitten your bait off the hook or you might have a striped bass on!
  3. We recommend checking your bait every 20 to 30 minutes if nothing exciting happens. Depending on the type of bait you’re using and the action of the surf, your bait can fall off your hook and you’ll need to reset it.
  4. If a location isn’t getting any action, try moving to a different location/pool. This kind of fishing lends itself to having multiple rods in multiple locations as well as a friend or two to keep an eye on things.

General Striped Bass Fishing Tips

Before closing, we wanted to cover several general striped bass fishing tips that can help you pick the best time and place to catch striped bass.

  • Look for birds. Birds in the surf often indicate that there are baitfish nearby and most likely some hungry striped bass. Birds are your friends!
  • Switch out your bait. Striped bass like eating many different types of bait, which means they can afford to be picky sometimes. If you aren’t getting anything with the type of bait you’re using, try switching to another option.
  • Use a masking scent. Striped bass have a very keen sense of smell and will be able to tell if you’ve touched the hook or lure you’re using. We like to use a fish scent like anise or shrimp oil to cover up any foreign smells we may have imparted.


Knowing when the best time to catch striped bass is can be the difference between a day waster fishing and a 30 lb bass. We hope after reading this article, you now know when the best time to catch striped bass is. You might also have learned a few additional tips and techniques for catching them. We wish you luck on your next striped bass fishing adventure!

Happy Hunting!

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