By Mike Christy. Striper fishing in New Hampshire's Piscataqua River begins in early May with mostly schoolies being caught. The big cows are landed a little later and are most plentiful in the fall. Striped bass usually hang around until late September then migrate south for another season. Although, some oldtimers have told stories of catching stripers through the ice in Great Bay.
Capable of reaching pounds, striped bass are among the most frequently pursued game fish along the Atlantic Coast. Striped bass — often called striper or rockfish — make their home in southern waters, but their annual spawning migration brings them to the coast of Massachusetts every summer, where these abundant and hard-fighting fish congregate in some of the state's best fishing hot spots. The south shore of Massachusetts is where striped bass arrive first on their way north. It doesn't take long for striped bass to make their way up to the north shore of Massachusetts, including Boston, Gloucester and Massachusetts Bay. The bay, which includes Boston Harbor, is home to some of the best striper hot spots in this part of the state, including Deer Island, Old Harbor Park and numerous public piers and jetties along the Harbor. Just off the coast of Boston, Governors Flats is another perennial hot spot, with deep holes that produce some of the biggest stripers in the state. The annual striped bass spawning migration culminates with millions of fish entering freshwater rivers all along the coast, where they feed heavily and reproduce before returning to the ocean.
The boat in your garage hasn't seen the light of day since about November when you took that last trip out and had to keep putting the rod tip in your mouth to keep the ice off it. Now, for other New Englanders striper season starts as early as April. These hardy souls start appearing on the banks of the estuaries, rivers and bays with light spinning tackle or fly rods in hand. They also start showing up in the rivers and along the Atlantic's shores bundled up while driving their boats.
For those with access to a boat, live bait represents the most effective way to consistently land big striped bass as with most other species of fish. Depending on the area of New England's coast that you are fishing, there are a variety of different baits that stripers will consistently hammer mackerel, eels, pogies, herring, pollock. The Atlantic Mackerel is perhaps the most well known and widely available of these, and can be found with relative consistency from late spring through mid-fall, albeit sensitive to pressure from invading bluefish and shifts in water temperature. Mackerel are most easily located at first light, when they can often be seen finning at the surface. These fish can be taken with multi-hook Sabiki rigs - these are essentially a line of 6 tiny hooks spread out over a span of 6 feet or so, each with a small piece of colored paper attached to them.