Game Fishing > Saltwater Fish > Channel Bass

Channel Bass

Channel BassThe channel bass is one of the largest food fishes of the Southern waters, reaching a length of five feet and a weight of seventy-five pounds. It inhabits the Atlantic Coast from New York to Texas, is abundant in the Carolinas, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico, and is also taken at times on the New Jersey coast. It has many titles. At the mouth of the James River it is called the drum, at the mouth of the St. Mary's, Ga., the red bass, at Fort Marion, Florida, the spotted bass, on the Indian River the red horse, at Tampa the reef bass, New Orleans the poisson rouge, San Antonio the pez colorado.

But the common name is red drum, or channel bass. It is caught on the bottom of the ocean and in the surf from July to late October. It is a splendid fighter especially if reasonable tackle is used, springing forward and down with long sweeps, shooting back and forth, cutting the water with splendid rushes.

In fishing the surf the usual stiff casting rod is employed, and the method used is similar to that with the striped bass. In bays and mouths of rivers an eight-foot greenheart or bamboo rod weighing twenty-four ounces is used, the line a No. 12 Cuttyhunk, and hook about the size of a No. 7/0 Limerick, baited with mullet or crab; a sinker should be attached to the line with the usual swivels, as the channel bass is a bottom feeder, and often caught weighing fifty pounds along the Florida coast.

This locality is also famous for large sharks, strikes from this same being about two to one for channel bass. On the Jersey coast the bait used is clams, oysters, or menhaden, the latter preferred. The greater part of the fishing, however, is done with hand lines, the fisherman heaving a heavy sinker, with the menhaden bait tied securely to the hook, far out over the rollers, and the fish is hauled in through the waves.

In south Barnegat Bay, at Harvey Cedars, some of the finest fishing can be had at times, especially in September, the catches. ranging from fifteen to fifty pounds. As a game fish, the channel bass is similar to the striped bass. It lives upon Habits crustaceans, mollusks, and sea worms, and has been seen to root up and tear the weeds in shallow waters in its search for food. This explains its presence along the line of surf in the shallow waters of the great sandy beaches of the coast, the home of numerous burrowing crustaceans.

Another species, called the black sea drum is a bottom feeder, and is caught in the surf with skimmer clams, and soft clams, baited on heavy tackle, similar to that used in surf casting for striped bass. It is caught on the New Jersey shore, particularly at Anglesea, in the spring and summer; sometimes, though rarely, farther North. It is most abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southern Atlantic coasts, and is caught weighing up to seventy-five pounds.