Live bait fishing for Stripers in Arkansas is the most accepted way to continuously catch Stripers. The methods used vary according to the way the fish are feeding and time of year.
You must have a good boat bait tank.
Gizzard Shad: Gizzard shad are found in schools and prefer calm, productive, warm waters. Although they can be found in rivers and streams. Their habitat also includes natural lakes and ponds. They feed almost entirely on microscopic organisms. They are widely abundant in all of the larger streams and lakes. Gizzard shad range in length from 2 to 14 inches, and are harder to catch than Threadfin shad. You will usually only be able to catch them 1 or 2 at a time in your cast net. Large Gizzard shad are one of the best live baits for catching trophy stripers.
Threadfin Shad: Threadfin shad are your most common shad in Arkansas lakes and rivers. Therefore they are the easiest to catch. Although the threadfin is probably not native to most reservoirs, it has been widely introduced into them as a forage species. Threadfin shad feed on plankton and range in size from 1 to 6 inches. Threadfin shad are sensitive to cool temperatures, and decrease swimming and schooling abilities at temperatures of 45 deg. and below.
Golden Shiner: The golden shiner is a lake species, preferring clean, clear, shallow, vegetated areas of lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams. It eats algae, plankton, flying insects and occasionally small fish. It averages 5 inches in length and ranges between 3 and 12 inches. Shiners are probably one of the easiest baitfish to use. Because you can buy them at most bait shops, and they are easier to keep alive than Gizzard or Threadfin shad.
Fishermen rely on one of three basic methods for stripers
In addition to fishing big plugs on the surface, live-bait fishing and trolling are the two most popular and effective ways to target Beaver Lake stripers. Most live-bait fishermen use small to medium-sized gizzard shad, which they may fish on free-lines, suspend under balloons or fish straight down on down-lines. Tactics vary according to whether stripers are schooling and how deep most shad and stripers show up on your graph.
Below are some of the methods used.
Float Rigs: (Ballooning)
Start by sliding a barrel weight on your line from 1/2oz to 3oz tie on a swivel with about 4-6 feet of leader, the weight and hook size will depend on the time of year and size of Striper and size of the bait .Also at times you can have no weight below a float, In the cooler weather months or cooler water below dams, stripers tend to feed closer to the surface. This is when you need to hold your live bait rigs shallower.
When trolling balloons you can adjust to the depth you want the bait to be running by pulling out that amount of line before you tie the balloon on.
For Example on your depth finder you see fish active in the 25 foot range. You pull 25 feet of line off your spool using your rod as a guide and tie your balloon on then feed the line out behind the boat as your trolling.
You can use a bobber, at least 1 inch in diameter, but I prefer the balloon. The balloon floats on top of the water better, therefore creating less resistance, and not tiring out the shad as fast. You can also use different color balloons, to tell your lines apart or bright color balloons to see your lines better from a distance. Put your first bait out around 40-60 yards behind the boat and stager the others at 10 to 20 yard intervals, to prevent tangling. A neat floating devise is the corks with lights in them the kids love them for night striper fishing.
This is probably the most common rig used for fishing with live bait. My rig consist of, a 1/2 to 3oz. slip-sinker threaded onto my line, then a glass or brass bead. Then I tie on a heavy-duty barrel swivel. To the other end of the swivel I tie on a 3 to 6 foot leader. I hook on the best looking gizzard or threadfin shad I have and lower to the desired depth.
Reels with line counters are good reels to use, note the depth the stripers are located on your fish finder and lower your shad to just above the fish. Stripers tend to feed up. I fish several rods from my boat at varied depths until I determine the stripers strike zone. Then I will move most of them to that general depth
Flat Lining: (A hook and the Bait - As Simple as it comes, just let em swim.)
With nothing more than a hook on the end of the line, you attach the bait fish and let "em" swim. You can learn to direct the way your bait swims by where you place the hook-- the further toward the head they tend to swim down--- the further toward the tail they tend to swim up. Use more of a swing when casting live bait as not to damage or pop them off your hook with a little practice you will have no problem.