Penn Ship

Posted in Penn Fishing Gear by Penn Fishing Gear on December 2, 2011

Penn Ship

Catching Striped Bass Using Bunker

Bunker which are also known as Porgy and menhaden are probably the best possible baits when it comes to striped bass. Not too long ago, Bunker made up about 80% of a typical stripers diet. In fact, Bunker is an easy target for stripers, because it is fatty, oily and contains high calories. The problem is that today, a lot commercial entities are competing for bunker. One of the reasons for this is the oils in the bunker are used in everything from pet food to medicines. The next time you are shopping, take a look and see how many labels contain Omega-3 oils. You may be surprised at the number of products that are using these oils which are directly derived from bunkers. Commercial fleets have become very efficient at snagging entire schools of bunker. In fact, they can wipe them out with a single pass of the net. All too often, commercial fishing companies will use a spotter plane to locate a school of bunker and provide their boats with the coordinates via radio. When this occurs, the ship will lay out a large net that will encircle an entire school, a process known as purse seining. What makes this particularly troubling is the potential ecological impact of doing this. As a rule, Bunker's feed by straining suspended matter and food particles out of the water making them filter feeders. As a general rule, you will find Bunker swimming in massive schools that can literally number in the millions. In fact, there is little doubt if you found one bunker that there are many more in the immediate area. When the summer heat takes control of the waterways, bunkers will typically find their way into small estuaries and back creeks and literally suck the oxygen from the water. When this happens, which is nearly every summer, massive fish kills occur.

Because bunkers are filter feeders, you will not be able to use traditional fishing methods to catch them. Traditional baits such as lures, flies and other alternatives simply will not work with bunker. In fact, the two most accepted methods of landing bunker are through netting and through the use of treble hooks. Netting is far neater, as treble hooking involves getting into the area where the bunker have schooled, using a treble hook to cast into the center of the school and basically hold on until you have landed a bunker. Some anglers enjoy doing this and leave the bunker on the hook, hold their rods in the water until the bunker (who now is impaled with the hook) sinks below the school and becomes bait for a striper. Remember, stripers are sharp and they will quickly identify wounded bunker and will come after it. Not only is this method of fishing effective, some find it very relaxing.

Netting bunker is nearly an art form as it requires a great deal of preparation and thought. Netting bunker requires the use of a gill net which has floaters to keep it on the surface as well as weights to ensure that it stretches out properly. You need to make sure that you have purchased the right size net, it should not have openings of more than one inch. This size allows you to net bunker because their heads fit through the openings but, their gills become entangled in the mesh. You should look for gill nets that are between 50 and 100 feet long and have a depth of 4-6 feet. To properly weight the gill net you will need about 1.25 pounds of lead weight per each foot of net that you have to work with. If you under-weight your net, what will happen is that it will not sink properly and the fish will most likely flee your net long before you have a chance to draw it into the boat. Live wells can be used to help keep the bunker alive. You may be surprised to find that a single netting can result in four dozen or more bunker giving you more than enough for one days fishing.

If you are planning on netting bunker, start off first thing in the morning, and head for an area that has a reef. If you start in shallow water you will not need to add any weight (in fact you should avoid it). Bunker run to the surface in an attempt to save their own lives when they are being pursued by stripers. It is not uncommon to see a bunker fleeing towards the surface, being knocked upwards of three free airborne by the tail of a striper and then landing back into the open mouth of the striper. It’s quite a sight to see. As the boat traffic increases, bass will typically head towards deeper water to get out of the way. This is the time when most anglers will begin fishing with sinkers and a three way rig and more traditional bait. It’s not uncommon for anglers fishing with porgy, hickory shad and eels that are in your area to have a hard time landing a striper if you have bunker on board. There’s a reason for this – your boat no doubt is now emanating a scent of bunker and once the striper identifies that scent, they become single minded in their pursuit of this favored baitfish.

When you are preparing to undergo a saltwater fishing experience, it is important that you have the proper fishing gear. Some of the most popular gear include Shimano Saltwater Spinning Reels, Penn Reels and Daiwa Fishing Reels.


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