Photo by Jim Levison

Throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, striped bass begin swimming up the coastal creeks, inlets, and rivers in May, where many will often remain for the summer to feed on the plentiful baitfish that get pushed with the tide in these high-current areas. Targeting these bass takes some stealth, as they can be highly pressured and wary.

Step one is to attack at first and last light. Step two is using the current to time your approach and dictate your boat position. Stripers use the slack pockets on inside bends to ambush prey, and the best way to ensure your topwater lure gets smashed is to cut the corners.

Power Down


Illustrations by Steve Sanford

When you approach a bend, position the boat so the current carries you toward the inside corner, and kill the engine. If you have a trolling motor, you’ll be able to make adjustments once the big engine is shut down; if you don’t, do your best to gauge the path of the current and keep the bow pointed downstream.

Throw long


Just before the boat rounds the turn, make a long cast with a popper over the corner and into the slack pocket on the other side. Braided line helps cut through marsh grass if a section of your line ends up spanning dry land. Stripers often smash the lure within two pops.

Lean In


When you get bit, set hard and move the rod away from the corner. As the boat is pushed around the turn, you want to keep side pressure on to steer the fish away from the bank. Getting a fish out of the hole quickly also ups your chances of scoring another bass from the same pocket on a repeat drift.