This process is very convenient for those who lack time in the sport. "Spot Hunting" is a very fun aspect of fishing -- it's very rewarding when you find a spot that is not fished by many; however, not everyone has the luxury to spend so much time to look for places to fish. For a father of two or someone that works full time, it's quite hard to spend so much time on the water!
As you can see, a "spot" is not everything you need to successfully land fish. Location is important; however, TIME is also a fundamental factor in the sport fishing. Being a Physics major, I understand that too well -- time and location are very important, guys! Therefore, let's reinforce our sentence: "the first step in fishing is to pick a good spot at a good time!" There we go. Now it's more complete!
One advice that I always give to my friends is to "think like a fish." If you were a certain type of fish, i.e. a Flathead Catfish, what would you do on a daily basis? What time would you feed? These questions would sound silly to a person without much knowledge in fishing. For those, the answer to this question would be more or less likely to be "I would swim the whole day" (I've gotten answers like this before). However, to a knowledgeable person, these are deep questions to be thought about!
For example: it's a fact that Catfish feed more at night time. Why? Because they rely mainly on their sense of smell and electro-sensing. Since every baitfish in the River has a beating heart, they are like little batteries for these huge predators! At night time, these little fishes are usually hidden in their natural habitats (between rocks, vegetation, etc); therefore, a big Flathead Catfish can find them by electro-sensing and just ambush them! There you go -- you just got yourself your meal of the day.
So, what about Striped Bass (a.k.a. Stripers)? What do they usually do? When do they feed? And, most importantly, when are they here -- in Philadelphia?
This step is often frustrating. So, don't let a couple skunked sessions discourage you! In order to find them, one must know what is the best time of the year to target them. In other words, the angler needs to study their migration route! I've attached a homemade map below, so you can have a better visualization of the route they take.
2. Finding the fish
Herons, Bitterns, Loons, Cormorants, Grebes, Terns, Mergansers, Bald Eagles, Kingfishers, Ospreys, Gulls, Egrets, Pelicans -- whatever it's...if you see them nibbling somewhere in groups, go there! I've seen birds nibbling close to the Fairmount Dam, and there are always monsters around when that happens. Believe me...the birds will lead you there! Who needs a sonar when birds are around, seriously. Nature is the best option.
Just out of curiosity: the scientific name of the Striped Bass is actually Morone Saxatilis, meaning "dwelling among rocks." Well...I guess the name tells you something, huh?
The East wind is the best wind when fishing at the shore, while the South wind is the worst. The reason behind it is simple: the East wind is an on-shore wind (surface water moves towards the land), and the South wind is the off-shore (surface water moves away from the land). One would expect the West wind to be the worst, but that's wrong! The rotation of the Earth makes the South wind the worst. I'm not going to explain the Physics behind it here. Hehe.
Stripers! --> Bait fish --> Zooplankton --> Phytoplankton --> Sunlight
Nice food chain, isn't it? Basically, the East wind moves the Phytoplanktons closer to the surf, and everything else follows.
Keep in mind that the wind theory for fishing depends very much on location! This doesn't apply only for the Striped Bass. Wind also has a very important role in Crappie fishing, for example.
The best time to fish for them is when a current is present: high tide to low tide, and viceversa. The best time in my opinion is the first to third hour of "low tide --> high tide --> low tide."
As soon as the tide hits the maximum or minimum, you can expect them to stop biting (it doesn't mean that you won't get any fish, though).
Below are some Striped Bass caught from the Delaware and Schuylkill River during the runs:
Long Days and Pleasant Nights,