Back when there were no regulations on striped bass fishing, a friend and I often trolled the Gaspereau River in a canoe, using squid and big spinners. On some tides, when the run was good, we’d hook into a lot of fish. Since there was no size limit we’d keep any striper that yielded good filets.
We trolled with fresh water tackle, fly rods and Hardy St. Johns with lots of backing, and the undersize bass you have to release today provided great sport. Occasionally we hooked into large bass but most of the fish we filleted ran five to eight pounds.
We experimented with various baits – herring, gaspereaux, mackerel and even shad strips. For trolling the most effective bait was squid. Probably because it could be cut up into strips roughly one inch by six inches and would take a lot of pounding, it was the best to use with on our trolling rigs. At the time only a few local anglers used squid; most anglers fishing the shoreline and the Gaspereau River with heavy tackle preferred herring. Bloodworms, another popular bait today, was unheard of locally decades ago. Back then (in the 1950s, 60s and 70s) a few anglers fished for stripers with large clams but I never hear of this bait being used today.
Nowadays, squid is often the preferred bait with anglers fishing along the Minas Basin. However, from what I’ve been told, striper baits apparently are like the fashion trends you see with clothing. In Baxter’s Harbour, Bay of Fundy fisherman John McCulley packages squid, herring and mackerel for striper anglers. He says anglers sometimes get a run on a particular bait; one year it’s herring, the next season squid and so on; and there seems to be no particular reason for the changing preferences.
What’s the most popular striper bait this summer? John McCulley says squid is again numero uno, or has been recently. At the current local hotspot, Porters Point, anglers fishing with squid have been taking a lot of keeper size bass.
There are many striper hotspots long the Minas Basin shoreline in Kings County. The Guzzle near Evangeline Beach attracts a lot of anglers, as does the lower tidal section of the Gaspereau River. Striper anglers are like salmon anglers, by the way – mum about their favourite fishing spots in other words. Often you only find out about a hotspot – through the angler grapevine – after the stripers have followed the baitfish to some other area of the coastline.
To see how popular the Guzzle is, by the way, take a look at the web sites devoted to Nova Scotia fishing. Lots of mention of the Guzzle there; anglers either looking for directions to the Guzzle or mentioning it as a great spot to fish for striped bass.