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Do you like stripers? Go fish

DON MARTIN/For the Miner
These stripers were part of a catch of fish that were taken out of boils on Lake Mead last Saturday evening. Stripers, or striped bass, are predatory non-native fish that came to Arizona waters after being introduced in Nevada and Utah.

There is a special kind of fishing going on right now at Lake Mead, and if you like to catch and eat striped bass, you should plan a trip as soon as possible.

But first, let me give you a little history as I know it of the striped bass, or stripers, as we call them.

Stripers are a voracious predatory fish that are the most-often found fish in the Colorado River system.

These non-native fish were introduced a number of years ago by wildlife agencies in Utah and Nevada in the hopes of providing anglers with an easy-to-catch sport fish.

As I recall, Arizona Game and Fish was not happy with that decision, but once they were in the system - well, it was all water under the bridge.

These fish multiply rapidly, and in my opinion have had an adverse effect on the fisheries in the Colorado River and lakes in Arizona.

Unlike largemouth bass, which tend to be solitary predators that lie in wait for their prey near cover, stripers tend to be found in large schools and roam the open water.

Stripers this time of the year are aggressively searching for schools of young fry, or newborn fish - threadfin or gizzard shad, or even stripers themselves.

They find these schools of baitfish and then literally push them to the surface for slaughter.

Right now it is possible to see schools of 1 pound and 2 pound stripers - some that probably have up to 500 fish - pushing and feeding on baitfish all over the lake.

This activity can happen any time of the day, but from what I've been experiencing, if the wind isn't blowing hard, the best times are early in the morning and late afternoon.

Simply drive around the lake and look for the boils, have a shad imitating top water or jerk bait on the line, and toss into them when you get close enough.

You'd better have a good grip on your fishing pole as the strikes are vicious.

In the last couple of weeks, my anglers and I have been "chasing boils" and it has been very productive.

My intern Ryan Borden and I went out one evening and in about an hour we put 16 good fish in the boat.

Then, last week I had the pleasure of fishing with a group of anglers that included former Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Larry Adams, who lives in Bullhead City, his son-in-law and a friend of theirs from Phoenix

My friend Jay Chan was also in the boat.

One morning we started chasing boils and ended up catching more than 50 quality stripers. We ended up with 156 fish in the boat, including 147 stripers! Not a bad night/day on Lake Mead.

Last Saturday evening I had friends Chuck and Julie Decker up from Phoenix to fish with Chan, Borden and I.

We got into some boils and in short order put 20 good eating stripers in the boat.

Sunday morning, fellow Kingman anglers Jay Holloway, his son Clayton and Jay's wife DeDe got into a huge striper boil on the Nevada side of the lake not far from South Cove. In less than an hour, the Holloways put more than 60 stripers in the boat.

They used both top water and jerk baits.

There is no limit on stripers under 20 inches long, while there is a 20-fish limit on stripers over 20 inches long on Lake Mead.

The vast majority of fish that you'll catch in the boils are from 14-16 inches long and are really good eating fish.

Here is another tip. Don't run your main engine when getting close to boils; use an electric trolling motor to get close and watch where the fish are headed. Often, you can catch many fish out of one boil.

The nighttime fishing has been slow, especially now that this "super" moon is out, so chasing boils is a good alternative for anglers.


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