South Shore Stanchions: Spring Stripers At Moses - The Fisherman

South Shore Stanchions: Spring Stripers At Moses

moses-bridge
The Moses Bridge as the sun sets can become an explosive spot for bass, blues and weakfish in the spring. Don’t miss your chance be ready for the opener hot action during the month of May

Attacking this manmade striper structure with nothing but artificials.

How do you target striped bass? Surf rat throwing tins and plugs from the beach? Private boat angler soaking clams, eels, or live bait? Dock or pier angler with chunk baits? There are so many ways to catch stripers; you could take up an entire year trying something different every day! For me, however, nothing beats the thrill of light tackle casting for stripers at the Moses Bridge during the spring months. You get to work various current breaks, watch the shadow line for bait after dark, and then toss a plastic bait or bucktail to that “perfect” spot. And nothing is more rewarding than just that!

Local Knowledge

I reached out to two anglers I know that fish the Moses Bridge hard – Adam Fieser and Ray Solinas Jr. I wanted to know how they fared last spring, and just what they did that made the difference. After all, we all know that soft plastics are the keys, but is there another option as well?

According to Adam, “Most of the bass we caught were at the first and last hour of the tides. The fish also held within the rips and eddies formed near the bridge stanchions.”

Adam also went on to say that topwater action at first light was good with Blitz Pencil Poppers and Doc Lures (Similar to a Zara Spook) producing quality fish, fished in and around the stanchions. The action was very consistent in the spring, with the key ingredient being the start of the outgoing tide and when boat traffic is minimal.

Ray Solinas Jr. who cut his teeth at the Moses Bridge with his dad, Ray, when he was a youngster, felt that even though bass were consistent at the bridge, you had to make sure the tide was right. For me, I always liked the beginning of the outgoing. If you can get there at first light when the tide just begins to ebb, hold on because the action could be red hot. Ray also feels that the bass only feed a few hours during a given day, so making sure the conditions are optimal is critical.

From a party boat perspective, my good buddy, Capt. Walter Czekaj of the Fish Finder II out of Captree feels that the last of the flood and the entire outgoing tide will produce the best. When approaching the bridge, take note of the current flow around the pilings, the ebbs, and flows. These are areas that should hold baitfish. These are also all prime areas to slide your soft plastic or bucktail toward when you begin fishing.

ray
The late Ray Solinas, Sr. with a fine Moses Bridge striper caught during a spring outing.

Bass Assassin is King

Over the last 10 years or so, if not longer, the best soft plastic at the Moses Bridge has been the 7-inch Bass Assassin in white (alewife a close second), with varying head weights the only difference. On the slower current conditions, 3/4 ounce will suffice, while as the current picks up, 1 or 1-1/2 ounce will aid in getting the bait towards the bottom, and still appear as natural as possible.

With the influx of bunker the last several years very early in the bay, live baiting is another option, but I wouldn’t exactly call that light tackle so we will save that for a future article.

Pick Your Poison

Whether you have your own boat or want to hop aboard a party boat, bass action at the Moses Bridge is a great spring event, which will surely get your year started off right. There are arguments for who has the advantage. A party boat offers a lot of baits in the water, which could evoke bass to feed aggressively. On the other hand, a smaller private boat will allow you to concentrate on smaller defined areas to throw your Assassin. With the new Minn Kota Spot-Lock advantage on a trolling motor, you can easily stay in one place and then very quickly and quietly move to another location without spooking wary stripers.

As for success on either, it is all up to the captain of either vessel to hone in on the best spot and make sure lines can be “worked” efficiently to get a bass to strike. Work the eddies and rips to pinpoint where the bait will be getting flushed and where stripers will be lying in wait to ambush.

matt
Topwater action is a surefire way in the spring to land an impressive overslot or slot striper in the spring. This quality bass, caught by Matthew Fieser exploded on a pencil popper.

“Work” the Pilings

On smaller boats and even larger party boats, the key is to “work” the pilings (stanchions) to the best you can. A larger party boat can throttle their engines to virtually stay in one spot. For the private boater, the best fit is the new trolling motor, and believe me, once you have it, you will never understand how you did without it.

When I fished the “bridges” from the top of the bridge or shore with the late Fred Golofaro at night, we had a specific method to work our bucktails. This method is one that still works today with Bass Assassins, and can be achieved via party or private boat.

The key is you want your lure to flow into the shadows of the bridge as naturally as possible. As you approach the bridge, try and stay just outside the shadow line, then make parallel casts outside the shadow line and allow the Assassin to drift into the darker area. This is the area bass will lie in wait.

For daytime or first-light timeframes and when topwater poppers are going to be your main lure, the same rule applies. The sun will still cast a slight shadow off the bridge. Start working your topwater outside the dark area, and allow it to flow into the dark.

weakfish
Don’t be surprised if an early morning or after dark outing produces a quality weakfish in the spring, especially with their resurgence over the last several years.

Rod and Reel

As with all styles of fishing, the correct rod and reel setup is something you need to address. You will need a light tackle spinning rod in the 7 to 7-foot, 6-inch class for private or party boats. The 7-foot model is better suited for underhand casting from a party boat, but either can accomplish the feat.

On the reel end, a size 4000 spinning spooled with 20-pound braid and a 10-foot trace of fluorocarbon tied as a leader is my personal choice. Use a Double Uni-Knot and a touch of glue for best results.

The action for light tackle casting to the bridge will start as early as April and last well into the summer. It may slow down a bit, but I know guys that score bass throughout the year at the Moses Bridge. Most of the early season stripers will be of the school-sized variety, with a few keepers thrown into the mix as well. A good quality Frabill landing net is the best way to land fish at this location, but if the fish is smaller, swinging it boatside, then grabbing, unhooking, and releasing is also pretty easy when using a single hook setup. Whether you choose to hit one of the party boats or head out on your own, light tackle casting to the Robert Moses Bridge can be enjoyable and produce quality results throughout the striper season.

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