Striped bass and hybrid striped bass are the second biggest fishery at Claytor Lake, with nearly 20% of anglers fishing for these 2 species. Poor habitat conditions (low dissolved oxygen levels at their preferred temperature at depth) for striped bass in summer 2016 caused a striper kill, but recent angler reports indicate that this event was nowhere near a complete population die-off. Claytor Lake bait populations (alewife and gizzard shad) are high, so stripers are feeding well since fall 2016, so anglers are reporting some fat and happy stripers!
Water temperatures below 70 degrees produce the best striper and hybrid striper fishing. While most anglers troll or float live gizzard shad and alewife for stripers and hybrids, many are taken with topwater baits (Redfins, Rapalas, etc.) and bucktails in the spring and fall. Trolling bucktails and umbrella rigs in 20-60 feet of water can produce good catches. Since they can tolerate higher water temperatures, hybrids often chase schools of shad at the lake’s surface at night in the summer months. Claytor Lake is the top destination for hybrids in Virginia, producing 13 trophy award certificate size hybrids (more than 8 pounds or 24 inches) in 2016 and setting a new state record with a hybrid weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces caught by local angler Don Jessie on March 16, 2016.
Anglers should keep in mind that the harvest of stripers and hybrids is limited to 4 fish per day (the two species combined), all of which must be longer than 20 inches. White bass are regulated by a creel limit of five per day, with no size limit. Anglers should study the differences between these fish carefully. Helpful identification information is available on the Department website.