Anatomy Of A Striper Blitz - The Fisherman

Anatomy Of A Striper Blitz

Photo Essay – Blitzes look like chaos, but choreography is reveled from above!

As the summer gives way to September, young-of-the-year baitfish of all species will begin to drop out of their natal estuaries. Fleeing their home waters where schoolie bass and snapper blues were their main concern, they often find themselves in much worse shape as they run along the oceanfront. Epic feeds break open on the beach as huge schools of striped bass converge on the bite-sized baitfish and feed all at once. The perception is that these blitzes are chaos, fish feeding selfishly, running in all directions, anglers on the shore and leaning against the gunnels of small boats jockey for position, trying to make the perfect cast.

I used to see chaos in these moments too, but watching the blitzes from above has given me a new perspective. Striped bass often feed in a spiral or what looks like a hurricane from above—nature emulating nature. As my drone captures the wild scene from above, I find myself transfixed, watching these fish sinuously following the track of the fish ahead of them in a school of thousands. From the surf, jetty, or the point of view of a boat we see the pure mayhem of an all-out feeding frenzy, but seeing the fish from below or above gives a whole new sense of how choreography and chaos collide in the heat of a striper blitz.

stripers-feeding
From the shore, a bass blitz looks like a wild scene of heads and tails competing for the same baitfish.
wave
The stripers though, work together and use the waves and currents, as well as physical objects like jetties, the beach and the water’s surface to corral baitfish as a team.
Tight-Blitz
A school of thousands of striped bass can use their collective mass to make baitfish go where they want them to go.
Bass-Hurricane
Once the bass decide to feed, they will crash the bait ball, spreading out with the baitfish and feeding heavily; however, they still – somehow – maintain the menacing look of a hurricane barreling toward shore.
Underwater-Blitz
As numerous as the bass seem from above, when you peek below the surface, you will see the sheer numbers of baitfish and immediately understand how the natural order of things has made arrangements for all species to survive and thrive in spite of one another.

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