First Beach Surfers End, Newport, RI
From the first holdover bass of March until the bigger bass arrive on the heels of the bigger baits like bunker and squid the surf fisherman is focused on schoolie bass. To learn more about tackle and tactics for schoolie striped bass go here.
Springtime schoolies are small and aggressive as a result, a lot of damage can be inflicted by treble hooks. It is important to modify your lures to either a single belly treble with the barbs crushed and a VMC Siwash on the tail with the barb crushed or one of the inline hook options like the Owner Zo-Wire (try to have the weight of the inline hook match the weight and the gap and not necessarily the size of the hook you are replacing). This will help minimize the damage inflicted on the eyes and gills of the small aggressive bass that are our future.
Top Five Lures for Schoolie Stripers
#1 Jumping Minnow This is a great-searching lure that with the right rod you can get some distance as well. And topwater strikes are an exciting way to start the season. We modify the Jumpin Minnow to reduce the damage caused by treble hooks and maintain the action. We use a 3/0 Owner In-line as the tail with a #1 VMC 9626 for the belly treble and #4 split rings (Rasco/Owner/Spro) will do the job with all the barbs crushed.
#2 Owner Inshore Slam Jig Head with a soft plastic like Cocahoe Minnow , Zoom Fluke or Bass Assassin Sea Shad There is a great hook on these jigs and well as a corkscrew keeper to hold the soft plastic in place. The 3/8 oz is the most popular. The different plastics have different profiles and tails designs but are of a similar size. As for color selection white is all you need with chartreuse being a good choice for dark days or if the water is off-color.
#3 Small SP Minnow The weight transfer system in the SP makes this little lure casts as though it were much heavier. Great action. Rig it like the Jumpin Minnow above.
#4 Small Bucktail Jig Select a lighter jig (1 oz or less ) to allow a slow retrieve in the shallow water that will warm first.
#5 Yo-Zuri Mag Darter Casts great, tracks a bit deeper than the SP Minnow