Photo Credit - Steven G. Johnson
From 1996 to 2000, striped bass populations were extremely low (3,000 - 5,000), forcing strict management and fishery closures to help reduce all threats to their recovery. In the following years, spawning numbers increased steadily and, now 17 years later, the number of spawners is now estimated to be over 316,000.
Although striped bass are much more abundant now than they were back in 1996, these fish are still heavily regulated. The exciting news, however, is that striped bass are much easier to catch now. With populations much higher, the fishing season for this species has been extended, giving anglers more opportunity to catch some great fish.
Striped bass can be found in the Judique area on the west coast of Cape Breton, in pools along the Margaree River, False Bay, Grand River, Cheticamp, Mira River, and Bras d'Or lakes. The two primary bodies of water for striped bass in Cape Breton are the Mira River and the Bras d'Or Lakes.
According to data collected from studies produced by oceans and fishery organizations, annual residency of striped bass in the Mira River primarily occurs during overwintering and spawning periods (middle of November to the middle of May). Some active areas where striped bass were observed are the areas around Christie Gillis Island, Sangaree Island, Campbells Island, Mainwaring Island, Spencers Island, Fergusons Cove, and Round Island.
In the Bras d'Or Lakes, striped bass are often observed in late spring, coinciding with the gaspereau run. They remain there until the end of October, however the majority are caught in late summer and fall. Although anglers catch the fish throughout the Bras d'or Lakes be, stripers are most often found in areas of high freshwater input with shelter from sandbars, and an abundance of aquatic vegetation such as coastal lagoons (barachois ponds).
In fact, the large barachois pond in East Bay was identified as an area of importance and it's also the site where the Canadian record for a striped bass of 59 lbs was landed. Barachois ponds are common areas where gaspereau are known to spawn and striped bass can feed on gaspereau eggs, larvae, or juveniles. The most common areas for Anglers fishing the Bras d'Or lakes are the East Bay sand bar, West Bay, Middle River, McNabs Cove (stripers in this area reported to have parasites), Nyanza Bay, and the mouth of the Baddeck River.
Striped bass are often caught in the late evening, although early morning is good as well. Some common lures used include the red devil, artificial eels, shrimp, bloodworms, surface baits, artificial minnows, and gaspereau. Before heading out to catch stripers, be sure to consult with your local sport fishing regulations for current fishing regulations.
Here are links to some photos of fish caught recently: