Answered: What’s the Best Time to Fish for Striped Bass?

by | Published on: May 9, 2024 | Striped Bass Fishing

With so many factors at play, it’s very difficult to find a definitive answer to this type of question.

With that said, it’s generally agreed that dawn and dusk, particularly in early spring, are the best times to catch striped bass. To truly excel at striper fishing, however, it’s crucial to consider other factors like the tide, water temperature, and moon phases. So, let’s fully answer the question together: what’s the best time to fish for striped bass?

When Are Striped Bass Most Active?

Striped bass are crepuscular animals. This means they are most active during dawn and dusk, specifically they eat and spawn during these times, which explains why these are the best times to fish for them. Stripers are also predatory animals and will aggressively pursue baitfish, making lures and approaches that mimic preyfish highly effective.

Looking for the best time of day to target other bass species? Check out our expert guide!

Factors Impacting Striped Bass Activity

Although striped bass are generally most active during the hours of dawn and dusk, their activity and behavior are influenced by many other factors. Understanding these factors is crucial for adapting your fishing strategy based on the conditions and the season. Let’s explore these factors in detail now.

1. Saltwater vs. Freshwater Striped Bass Fishing

Striped bass are also a euryhaline species. This means that they can survive in fresh and saltwater. For us anglers, this means more fishing opportunities.

Are you an inland fisherman? If so, look for deep fresh bodies of water. Striped bass congregate in these areas during feeding times to target schools of baitfish. Conversely, saltwater stripers can be found along the East Coast of the U.S., through the Gulf of Mexico, and even in some parts of California.

Regardless of how much salt is in the water, the optimal time to fish for striped bass is at dawn and dusk. Water temperatures over 80°F are not conducive to striped bass survival. So don’t expect to find them in hot, shallow water, especially during peak hours of sunlight in summer and spring.

A striped bass caught by the author while fishing in Cape Cod, Ma

2. Tides

Striped bass, like many other saltwater fish, rely on the movement of water and tides to ambush their prey. As water ebbs and flows, baitfish ride these currents, sometimes into the mouths of hungry predators!

From this perspective, the best time to fish for striped bass is during the first three hours of incoming and outgoing tides. Additionally, fishing during a slack tide — when the tide is not changing direction — can be highly productive. During these periods, using jigs and flies can be particularly effective.

Check a local tidal chart or table to pinpoint the specific timing of tides in your area.

A striper caught by trolling an umbrella rig

3. Moon Phases

As mentioned, the tides significantly impact the behavior of striped bass, and these tides are influenced by the phases of the moon. Therefore, some anglers try to plan their trips to coincide with certain moon phases.

Full and new moon phases lead to higher tidal levels and increased movement, creating optimal conditions for striped bass fishing.

4. Weather

Temperature and precipitation not only affect an angler’s motivation to fish but a fish’s motivation to feed. Generally speaking, water temperatures around 50°F will activate striped bass and encourage them to hunt out food.

Rain can be helpful if you have the right gear. Fish tend to feed more actively under cloudy conditions, as the reduced visibility helps camouflage them. This extra cover can encourage them to feed in shallow waters and closer to the surface.

Light rain can prolong the periods when fish are actively feeding, especially around peak fishing times.

Heavy precipitation discourages anglers but has little to no effect on the bite. Some old salts believe that heavy rain can encourage a bite, simulating bait activity on the surface. Striped bass are used to the chop and swell of an angry ocean, so harsh conditions generally do not affect feeding times unless the water is murky or cloudy.

Water temperatures between 50-70°F are considered optimal for striped bass feeding and spawning. Making late fall, early winter, and early spring the prime seasons to enjoy some striped bass fishing.

Professional mate, angler, and fishing guide Kyle Shipp with an incredible trophy striped bass

Intense weather systems can delay or accelerate striper activity. If a blow comes through stirring up debris and reducing water quality, expect a lull in feeding activity. If a weather system pushes silt and debris offshore and pulls in warm water, you may experience a brief but exciting uptick in striper activity.

A Note on Hybrid Bass

Hybrid striped bass (also known as whiterock bass) are a unique species, formed when stripers and white bass are mate. While there are genetic differences, the times, methods, and conditions for targeting them remain the same.

Explore the intricacies of hybrid bass with our species review!

A stunning hybrid striped bass

Seasonal Striped Bass Fishing

Striped bass are unique in that they can be targeted and successfully caught across the seasons. Various factors change throughout the year, influencing the most effective tactics for catching stripers.

The start of the striped bass fishing season isn’t marked by a specific date, but it is widely recognized to begin when water temperatures reach the optimal range of 55-65°F. This temperature range stimulates their metabolism and increases activity, making it an excellent time for anglers to target them.

As the seasons change, so do the conditions and the behavior of striped bass, which affects the ease of catching them and the most effective strategies. Below, we’ll delve into the optimal times to target striped bass throughout the year:


Below is a convenient table that summarizes the best times to fish for striped bass across the seasons, along with the expected level of challenge for each period.

SeasonHow Easy Is It to Catch Striped Bass?Best Time of Day
SpringVery EasyEarly Morning & Late Afternoon
SummerDifficultEarly Morning & Late Afternoon
FallSomewhat EasyEarly Morning & Late Afternoon
WinterEasier in Early Winter, Difficult in Colder MonthsMidday

For a look at the best times of year to fish for bass in general, check out our detailed guide


The best time to fish for striped bass during the spring season is often around dawn or dusk. This timing is recommended because striped bass are known to take advantage of the low light conditions at these times to hunt for prey, as the reduced visibility helps them avoid predators and ambush prey.

Fishing reports show that striper season peaks during early spring. This is due to two main factors: water temperature and the concentration of available food.

In early spring, baitfish begin to migrate up and down coastal areas. Stripers focus on this movement and follow the small, nutritious fish. The most commonly used bait for striped bass, either live or cut into chunks, is Menhaden, also known as Bunker. These oily fish inhabit Atlantic and Gulf water and migrate in early spring.

A slot-sized striper caught in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia.

Remember to monitor tidal fluctuations to take advantage of increased bait concentrations. For example, when fishing the first three hours of an incoming tide, seek out deep, open water where bait tends to school. This tactic works well for fishing in bays (think Chesapeake Bay, Va. or Md.).

According to professional mate and fishing guide Kyle Shipp, “look for heavy current and active bait during these times to target stripers”. Whether morning, evening or midday, the key to finding stripers is water movement, water temperature, and bait concentration.

Nature’s Alarm Clock

Once water temperatures reach 55-65°F, the striper bite should be at its peak. As the sun begins to warm murky shallows around March, temperatures slowly begin to climb and acclimate the fish. Think of it as nature’s alarm clock.


In general, stripers are more sluggish and less likely to search for food during the summer months. This is because warmer water temperatures decrease oxygen concentration and food sources are more dispersed. Water temperatures above 65°F lead to striped bass seeking refuge in deeper, cooler water.

During summer, you’ll have the most luck fishing for striped bass early in the morning or late in the evening. This is due to the fish avoiding the warmer water temperatures that occur during midday. In the cooler temperatures of dawn and dusk, striped bass are more likely to be active and feed closer to the surface or in shallower waters.

If you find yourself fishing for striped bass at midday during the peak of summer, when both water and air temperatures are at their highest, focus on deeper, moving water.

A ‘schoolie’ caught on a fly during the early hours of a summer morning – we were targeting small stripers around structure


Fall is arguably one of the best months for all types of fishing. The gradual cooling of water temperatures reinvigorates the striped bass bite. Once temperatures drop past 65 degrees, stripers will begin to gorge themselves in preparation for their northern migration.

During the fall, as with spring, the best times to fish for striped bass are at dawn and dusk. The fish capitalize on the low light conditions in their hunt for food, especially as they begin to consume more calories in preparation for the upcoming winter.


Although chilly water can hold more oxygen and, therefore, more fish, winter fishing for striped bass can be tricky. Once water temperatures fall below 50°F, fish will become sluggish much like in the summer. Fishing during midday when the sun is at its highest can warm waters and turn the bite on.

Look for deep eddies or sharp drop-offs where bait may be concentrated when looking for stripers in the winter. Remember that sluggish fish are looking for an easy meal, so keep your targeting methods simple, save the jigs and flies for the spring.

Night Fishing

Night fishing is an exhilarating way to land a trophy striper. If you’re fishing from a boat, try using a submersible light. This will attract baitfish and that’s when the big fish will move in!

Drift some cut or live bait on a circle hook through the dispersed light and watch as your hook is sucked down by big ole’ striped bass! Another method is to fish from the surf using brightly colored jigs, diver plugs, or poppers.

A small, winter-caught striper

The key takeaway is that stripers can very much be caught at night, and the trick is to use as much color and movement as possible.

Discover the perfect lure color for the conditions with our detailed guide


By now it should be clear that there is no simple answer to the question ‘What’s the best time to fish for striped bass?’. However, the information covered here should help you make an informed decision on when to get out there, depending on the season and other environmental conditions.

Beyond this, mastering tidal charts and logging landings from trips will give you the insights needed to really excel at striper fishing!