Sea bass fishing is just plain fun. It’s one fishery where you can have a rod in one hand, a hoagie in the other, a beverage in the cupholder, and a reasonable shot at going home with a pile of tasty filets. Once you are into them, the action can be hot and heavy. Seabassin’ is not as “technical” as say toggin’ so it’s more accessible to anglers with little or no experience and younger children.
Sea bass are good eating. The filets are on the smaller size but are translucent, firm, and have a mild taste. Because of this they can be prepared in a variety of ways. They are popular for having a fish fry.
Their name is Black Sea Bass, but we just commonly refer to them as sea bass. What’s surprising when you learn a little more about them is that they are not a bass at all. They are, in fact, members of the grouper complex you catch when you go down South.
From Wikipedia and NOAA Fisheries.
"The black sea bass (Centropristis striata) is a species of marine ray-finned fish, from the subfamily Serraninae which is part of the family Serranidae, which also includes the groupers and anthias. It is found in the western Atlantic Ocean where it is an important species for commercial and recreational fisheries."
Like other "deep sea fishing" specie such as tog, porgy and triggerfish, adult sea bass prefer hard bottom and structure, so we fish the artificial reefs, wrecks, and areas we know have a gravelly bottom. There is good to very good action on the inshore spots and a decent keeper ratio. Experience tells us that the “jumbo” sea bass prefer water depths greater than 90 feet. If your goal is to catch jumbos or to maximize your shot at catching your maximum limit, we recommend booking a 7 – 8 hour trip so we can run to some of our favorite spots that are 25 – 35 miles off the beach.
Sea Bass are not too finicky about bait and presentation. They will take squid, crab, and spearing. But what they really love is clam. And we mean love clam. We use a stand-off top and bottom rig.
A light jigging action helps to entice the fish to strike. Jigging also helps to reduce the number of rigs that are lost to the sticky bottoms we will fish over. When a sea bass decides to bite, they are usually “all – in” and a short, sharp hook set is all that is needed and then a steady retrieve to the surface.
We use our 5’6’ or 6’ Gull rods paired with Penn Fathom II level-winds. The tips of these rods are more than sensitive enough to feel the bite of even the smallest sea bass.
You might have heard that you need to anchor for sea bass. We completely disagree. Maybe big head boats need to do this for managing 60 lines in the water. We have found that if you keep your drift below 1.5 MPH you can crush seabass. When needed, we do this by using a sea anchor (think parachute in the water to slow down the drift) or back-trolling. If either of these methods don’t work, we will then anchor. Anchoring is also time consuming. By drifting or back-trolling, we can maximize time with "lines - in" and have more mobility for prospecting.
An interesting fact about the biology of Black Sea Bass from NOAA Fisheries:
"They are protogynous hermaphrodites—most black sea bass start out as females, and as they mature and grow, they become males. Researchers aren’t sure why this happens, but one hypothesis suggests the relative scarcity of males in a spawning group may be the stimulus for a female to switch sex."
The New Jersey sea bass season for the Fall of 2022 is broken into two phases. Phase 1 is October 7th - 26th with a 10 fish per a person possession limit at a minimum size of 13 inches. Phase 2 is November 1st - December 31st with a 15 fish per a person possession limit at a minimum size of 13 inches.
A sea bass charter can be arguably the most action - packed “fun and filets” trip you could take.
Hope to see you soon.