Dating the customer striper

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Spring is a season of plenty in the lower Chesapeake, and there is usually plenty of bait around if you know where to look. These gullible critters can be caught by drifting through areas with hard bottom, such as the rock islands of the CBBT or in the deep waters of the Baltimore or Thimble Shoal Channel.

Gold, Whitley and I caught our croaker at the mouth of Little Creek Inlet.

On 8-pound-test monofilament, the fight was long and intense. Anyone familiar with wipers nowadays will attest to their being among the hardest fighting and most challenging fish to catch.

It took more than 10 minutes before the wiper showed signs of tiring, nearly spooling me twice. With speed and endurance rivaled only by salmon, wipers grow quickly and hit a variety of baits, ranking them high on any angler’s must-catch list.

That's a lot of fish passing a lot of structure in a short period of time.

Circling or diving birds are the first sign that you need to get to an area quickly.Position the boat a long cast from breaking fish, and target the front of the pack. Count the spoon down to the desired depth and increase your descent count with successive casts.Once wipers stop chasing surface lures, switch to a jig or spoon that can be presented vertically in the water column. These compact spoons cast like a bullet even into a stiff wind.Catching one wiper on a busting school of bait is like shooting fish in a barrel. This will scatter the baitfish and make them sound. For this reason, you’ll benefit from using side-imaging sonar to track baitfish schools.The real measure of success comes from being able to stay with the school and catch multiple fish. Keep your distance and pay attention to which direction the school is moving. Absent a high-end graph, start by making a long cast with a spoon like a ¾- to 1-ounce Kastmaster.

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