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How To Choose The Ideal Striper Boat

Want to chase striped bass from the shallows to the edge of the exclusive economic zone? Look for a boat with these features.

Joe Albanese grew up on New York’s Long Island, fishing and clamming in the salt marshes and along open beaches. During his career in conservation, he piloted a variety of vessels through ice fields and along waterways from Alaska to metropolitan New York. But when it comes to chasing stripers, he has developed some distinct ­preferences over the years.

Boat Type

“I prefer center-consoles for my striper fishing, with the open layout lending itself to a variety of fishing techniques. From fly-fishing to light tackle to live bait, it can do it all. Unless you’re going to stick to the marshes, consider an 18-footer as the bare ­minimum. And if your commute involves an inlet that can get snotty, a 22-footer is better. But if you want to take advantage of the inshore tuna bite that has developed in the Northeast in recent years, look at the crop of capable 25-plus-footers that can run out to the 3-mile line and beyond.”


“I tend to be pretty heavy-handed with the throttle, so I like as much horsepower as I can get. I start my season early and go right through the end, so the ability to outrun weather is important to me. Even if you don’t feel the need for speed, having the most horsepower a hull is rated for will let you cruise at a lower rpm, which should provide some fuel savings.”

On Draft

“However big a boat you choose, you need to consider its draft. If you want to play in the creeks and flats, you need a boat that draws 15 inches or less. But even a heavy 22-footer will still draft less than 16 inches, which should get you just about anywhere that stripers swim. If you plan on spending more time in the ocean than in the bays, you might want to select a hull with more transom deadrise, around 20 degrees or more. You’ll lose some of the shallow-water capabilities, but you’ll be able to cut through waves and chop better.”

Trolling Motors

“In my opinion, there’s no better way to work the creeks than with the aid of a trolling motor. You can come off plane far from where you plan on fishing, and use the trolling motor to sneak into position, getting back into places that you probably couldn’t with your outboard. Trolling motors also excel for probing dock lines, letting you plod along without disturbing fish. Plus, the virtual-anchor feature available on most models lets you easily work a piece of structure or pinch point like a bridge.”

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