How to Catch Striped Bass on the Delaware River: Natural Bait Selections

Natural Bait to the Delaware River Overview

As we discussed in prevoius sements in the How to Catch Striped Bass on the Delaware River. we discussed the spring migration of striped bass on the Delaware River, types of locations to fish, tackle and equipment to use and some other basics needed for a successful striped bass outing on the delaware river. in this segment we will talk about the bait that has been success on the Delaware River and where to buy it.


The Delaware River has a few sources of natural bait to try and catch and use for striped bass. The best bait by far is the river herring that comes flooding in the Delaware River. Using herring live ot chunked will out compete all baits. The unfortunate part of the herring is we are on our 8 to 9th season of a complete shut down and they are 100% ilegal to use. There are fair amount of guys who fish the bank use a technique with a spinner bait and dip net to catch the herring and use them illegally on the river. I personally havent used a herring since the shutdown but many people do, some get caught and pay the fines. I am not advocating for the use of herring i'm just telling you the reality because it gets fustrating when your bank fishing or boat fishing legally on the Delaware River and guys are landing big fat slobs everyday, using ilegally caught herring. You can obtain herring legally in certian areas or purchase them out of state to bring them back to the Delaware River, but you better have some kind of proof where you got them or you will be in at least, a very aggravating siutuion with the powers to be. One day they may open the striper candy fishery up again. Until then they are 100% out of the Delaware River Systems


Sucker chucks can be a great early season bait to catch striped bass on the Delaware River. These fish in the spring are typically in small creeks and can be caught by hand very easily. They are not the best bait but they do work for sure.


There are two types of shad that are readily available, Gizzard shad and American Shad. Gizzard shad hands down out preform american shad 5 to 1. Some gizzard shads are 5-7 inches and are perfect live lining sizes. The large shad that are more common in the Delaware River and the tributaries are pretty large, up to 15 inches. When chuncked they give off an incedible scent down river. I have caught many fish over 40lbs on gizzard chunks and I've done this when we were able to use herring. There has been sitiuations where all they wanted was the gizzard shad and wouldn't touch the herring chunks. American shad are a good source of bait, they can be caught in the shallow water runs of the Delaware River or purchased from the fish markets.

White Perch

White perch flood the Delaware River in the early spring right after the herring. White perch in the early season can be an absoulte day saver but they are not my first choice of bait. Parly because they are not that oily. The party of that is if catch them and put them out where you caught them there is probably another 600 below you and to get the fish to bite one it makes it difficult. If you move away from where you caught them live-line with weight or free drifting you can find success. I have even put them on a balloon and feeder rod like im tuna fishing and hammered the striped bass. You can find some sucess chunking white perch but as I stated above they are not the oiliest fish so you scent trail is very subtile. You will need to relocate from where you caught the perch to find the best success.

Night Crawlers and Earth Worms

Night Crawlers will catch stripers in the Delaware River but they are not even on my top 10 list for striped bass. Although the season the 6-12 inch striped bass will eat earth worms and night crawlers. Catching one of size will be a huge success if you able to do it. I'm not saying you will not but I see it as a rare chance.


Trout are stocked right around the perfect time, right when the striper run on the Delaware River should be in swing. Chunked trout have yeild some expectional sized striped bass along the Delaware river. Live lining if you have the means to keep them alive can also yeild some nice fish. Make sure to check the regualtions on trout as bait.

Sun Fish

Late season sun fish are actually a great live liner bait in certian sections, like off the wing dam at New Hope.


The american eel is a staple in the striped bass bait selection all up and down the east coast. We will cover them more in the next section under store bought baits because 9.5 out of 10 eels used for bait are bought and not caught in the Delaware river. We use to have a great amount of eels in the Delaware river but now its definitely not what it was.