By John Tertuliani
I appreciate the savage fight of a hybrid striped bass. A cross between a female striped bass and a male white bass, you will not soon forget the fight from hooking one. Hybrid stripers are not oriented to cover like the largemouth bass and the smallmouth bass. They prefer open water rather than traditional cover such as wood and vegetation.
Silver and white in color, much like white bass, they are deep-bodied fish, and meaty. Black stripes running to the tail are usually broken, the lines less obvious in the smaller fish. The average hybrid weighs between 1 and 5 pounds. The length can range from 12 to 22 inches. They can grow much larger, some reaching a weight of 18 pounds and a length of 30 inches or more in Ohio.
The existing state record is a hybrid weighing 18.32 pounds, 31.75 inches long, with a girth of 24.5 inches. It was caught May 24, 2015, by Richard Knisely of Washington Court House, in a tributary to Deer Creek Lake in Fayette County. Knisely used a spinning rod and reel spooled with 15-pound test monofilament line and cut shad for bait.
The previous state record hybrid was also caught in Deer Creek Lake by Rosemary Shaver on May 4, 2001. The fish weighed 17.68 pounds and measured 31 inches in length. Record fish in Ohio are determined on the basis of weight alone.
Anglers fishing on the bottom for catfish often catch hybrids on chicken liver, shad, cut bait, nightcrawlers, and likely other baits. Hybrids are fast growing, their protein needs may encourage them to eat whatever they can, dead or alive, which may explain why anglers often catch them on plugs, crankbaits, spinners, jigs, and spoons meant for other species.
Like most predatory fish, the young feed on insect larvae, invertebrates such as worms and crayfish, and small fish. The adults feed on fish. In lakes this often means gizzard shad, an important prey species that many predators rely on as a forage base.
Being hybrids, reproduction is possible, but not likely. Stocking normally occurs in Buckeye, Charles Mill, Dillon, East Fork, Griggs, Kiser, and O’Shaughnessy lakes, and the Ohio River. In 2014, hybrid fingerlings were stocked in Guilford Lake, a small lake on the West Fork Branch of Little Beaver Creek in Columbiana County. Sippo Lake and Dale Walborn Reservoir (both in Stark County) also began receiving hybrid striped bass in 2014.
When water is open during the winter, anglers catch fish on the deep points of lakes, humps, old channels, the mouth of a tributary entering the lake, and below the dam in the tailwater. If fishing in the Ohio River, consider a warm-water discharge point, the tributary mouth of a creek, or the tailwater below one of the many dams.
The Great Miami, Little Miami, Scioto, and Muskingum rivers are not directly stocked. However, fish flushed from reservoirs during high water events and movements up from the Ohio River have created a limited fishery in portions of these rivers.
Fishing can be good in the spring and summer in the deep rapids. Not your average riffle, but a deep run with turbulent water. Try above and below the rapids and any slick spots in the rapids. A slick usually marks a deep hole of slower water among the turbulent areas formed around boulders and exposed bedrock.
A set of rapids is not an easy place to fish. The anglers who catch fish here like to use topwater baits and shallow divers at the break of dawn and then late in the afternoon near sunset. Dawn and dusk are the more active feeding times in any lake and river. You can catch hybrids at other times of the day when the sky is overcast from thick cloud cover.
Tackle needs to be above average to withstand this powerful hybrid. Tackle type does not matter – it can be baitcasting or spinning or fly fishing. You’ll need a reel with a smooth drag and 10-pound test monofilament at a minimum. You can use heavier line, especially with braid, and have a lighter weight leader of monofilament. Fluorocarbon can be used at a heavier weight than regular monofilament.