I had this trip in mind ever since I read an article in The Fisherman by Milt Rosko several years ago about the amazing Hudson River striper fishing near Kingston in May. My wife came along with our black Labrador, Sadie. She enjoyed being on the river enough to suggest we do it again. I had offered that she try and fish, but she says she wants to try fly fishing, so maybe first things first.
It's not the charter captain's fault all I caught was a seven-inch white perch by dipping a bloodworm. We marked dozens or hundreds of bass and for everyone around, also marking stripers, the bite proved very slow. We fished both live and cut herring on bottom, weighted by six to eight-ounce bank sinkers, in 20 to 27 feet of water for four hours total, trying three different spots. I lost a striper of about 25 pounds at boatside; it took a live herring. Two other hits on cut herring gave me significant jolts, one of these I know was a striper by the trout-like, tentative feel as the fish ran with the bait.
Saw a nice striper about 25 pounds caught by trolling with downriggers.
At least we had action. The fish I had on put up a long, dogged fight. It did not want to come in, big enough to have that chance of the hook pulling on its side. I would have released it anyhow. Hudson stripers eat tomcods full of PCBs. The bass have been in the river only a month or so, but long enough that I don't care for me or my family to follow the State of New York's suggestion that we eat four half-pound servings per month. Besides, these bass are probably not spawned out yet.
I asked our captain what he thought about the striper population. He said from a Hudson River perspective, it's on the rise. From what I've gathered, the Hudson River is the second largest striped bass nursery, next to Chesapeake Bay, but I couldn't find a percentage comparison. Chesapeake Bay is a very large place compared to the Hudson, although there's tidal flow here all the way to Troy at a certain dam. I don't recall the name.
Fishing in general for stripers on the Hudson will be good until June. Some are even caught from shore, but a boat or a charter captain seems to greatly advantage.