Game Fishing > Bottom Saltwater Fish types > Sea Bass fishing

Sea Bass fishing

Sea Bass fishingThis fish has an enormous appetite, and is well known to be a most determined and persistent biter. Its range is from north of Cape Cod to the sandy coast of Texas. Round about New York, Long Island, and New Jersey it is plentiful and common. During the breeding season the male develops a large hump on its shoulders, which takes away the fine shapely appearance which distinguishes the female.

It has a large powerful mouth, and will take a generous bait of almost anything that is eatable. It spends its time nosing about loose stones, in cavities of rocks that have sea­weed growing upon them, where they get vari­ous crabs, fishes, and other creatures, in water from twenty to fifty feet deep. They are a bottom-feeding fish and rarely come to the surface. The best time to catch them is during their feed­ing time, which is during the lull of the waters between the turn of the tides.

The largest fish are caught on the fishing banks, where steamers, during the greater part of the year, make daily trips to the Cholera Banks, off Sandy Hook and Long Branch, where they are caught weighing from four to eight pounds. Those caught in the bays, estuaries and back waters are much smaller, weighing half a pound to two pounds. The best place to angle for them is in deep channels, holes under sedgy banks, and over wrecks, or on bottoms where the black mussel is found.

They will take bait from Decoration Day to October, but the larger-sized fish are taken in inside waters from September to October. Like the fresh-water bass, it will sometimes break water, but not until drawn near the boat, when suddenly it makes a vicious leap, shaking its solid body in all sorts of wriggling and muscular contortions; from the moment the hook gets in its leathery jaws, it makes a steady fight and dies hard, considering its size.

Almost any bait is suitable, skimmer Bait clams, mossbunkers, shedder crabs, live killies, pieces of clam, sand worms, shrimps, and cut menhaden; all of these, it will take with avidity, for the sea-bass is always on the feed. The tackle used should be a good, stout rod, multiplying reel, and a strong line of generous length. Leaders are only necessary when fishing for the big, yellow autumn bass, which are very shy and wary. Late in the season, use a No. 2 sprout hook. A heavy sinker is required, to hold firmly on the bottom, and the hooks should be tied quite close to the sinker.

Some use only one hook, others use two, each having on a different bait. In baiting with shrimps, place two or three together on the same hook, for this fish is one of the few that go for the largest bait and, as his mouth is so ample, he is sure to be well hooked with a big bait. At the turn of the tide the angler is sure to be busy for the short time it lasts.

The feeding ground extends along the coast from Delaware to Maine, wherever the sea-weed grows from beds of mussels. It is eminently a coast fish, seldom venturing far above the bays and back waters; as a food fish, the meat of the sea-bass is excellent; as a game fish it may be placed next in rank to its cousin the striped bass. The sea-bass is known in various places as the blackfish, black Will, black Harvey hannahills, blue-fish, rock bass, black bass, and by many other titles.