Everyone needs a buddy, or two.
Finding striped bass schools as they move along the coast requires captains to interpret each facet of information they acquire and then put it to good use. Location of catches from previous days, wind direction, bait readings on the sounder and an uncanny ability to sniff out fish all play into finding bass on the move. But what can be equally or more important, is fresh and reliable “Intel.” Regularly talking to other captains while fishing can really enhance the amount of days with success at finding striped bass.
The best intelligence is the kind that is timely and trusted. Captains that communicate what they see with their eyes and on their sounder, and do so readily and with reliability are the best folks to work with. “We’re marking bunker, but no bass yet.” This kind of text tells friends that there is potential for catching as opposed to, “No bait, no bass marks at all in the area” is equally as important Intel that shows an area is void of life, thus helping the network spread out on the hunt. “Fish on,” or “hooked up” is always great to hear! It’s that second or third fish coming through on the wire that might get buddies at various locations to move from an exploration spot that’s not producing, but hearing fish are actively taking baits must be relayed.
Captains that are on a mad dog bite and don’t tell their friends until fish number 20 gets boated aren’t exactly doing all they can to help. They may try to convince themselves that they are, but they’re just crumbs. Within a quality network, the information passes swiftly and reasonably often. I surmise most people reading this have been involved in that situation where the Intel doesn’t come in a timely fashion. In blatant scenarios, it can leave a bad taste for sure.
If an insane bite erupts and all my rods are hooked up, I quickly send a text immediately, or if I cannot get one out that second, it gets sent after the fish are reeled in. My friends can attest to this. “Get here now.” I send this with a screen shot showing the GPS numbers. My pals know that this means it’s on fire and I can’t talk at the moment because I’m managing the boat and bass on every line in the water.
Reporting that any bite is dying off or a lull is taking place is extremely important. Your network may put the brakes on coming over, and instead, may investigate another area, a different batch of marks or flock of gannets hitting the water. Telling your friends that bite has waned may also save them fuel money.
If a weather pattern is stable, most boaters will all start in the same location where fish had been biting in previous days. If the chew is on, then the Intel plays less of a role in those moments. But when the bite dies, and vessels fan out, tracking down a different batch of fish can be aided by friends on other boats. When a bite pattern that has taken place for days gets interrupted by a weather event that keeps boat moored up, there is a chance the bait and bass move to a different area. In this instance, captains are wise to separate, check the location where the bite left off and move to new areas to see if they repositioned.
Furthermore, ocean-bound captains are best to discuss who’s going where along the beach. In other words, it’s beneficial for one captain to investigate the waters within a mile of land, while the other skippers zig zag the deeper waters from 2 to 3 miles, and in different directions. All the while, no captain should lose sight of what they see on their sounder. Sand eels, rain bait, bunker and herring can lead anglers to fish; however, the bass often show themselves on the sounder as marks moving in clusters. There’s no mistaking them on the depthfinder. Captains working with a couple boats will find the fish if they are obliging.
If you agree to work with someone on tracking down the bass, do your best to pay it forward and do it with consistency throughout the outing. Don’t go dark for long periods without communication as it’s meant to be a team effort. Captains with a small group of reliable buddy boats in their network will catch more in the long run than those working solo.