BLACK SEA BASS INNOVATION
NEW LIGHT-TACKLE TECHNIQUES MAKE FISHING FOR BLACK SEA BASS EXCITING AND PRODUCTIVE.
There was no mistaking the solid bite followed by the rhythmic bouncing. The hooked black sea bass took drag several times, digging hard to get back to the bottom. Then a second strike bent the slow-pitch rod over hard, the tip touching the water as another fish tried to make off with what it thought was an easy meal.
After some spirited give and take, the pair of humpbacks came over the rail and onto ice. A bunch more would fall to our light-tackle efforts that morning.
The techniques we employed — bucktails on ultralight spinning tackle and center-weighted jigs on slow-pitch jigging outfits — are not like the black sea bass tackle of old: heavy conventional outfits loaded with thick monofilament, cut clams and heavy sinkers while you sit and hope you’re in the right spot. This is sea bass fishing for the 21st century — more productive, bigger fish, and more fun.
Black sea bass have been popular with mid-atlantic anglers since the first party boats started taking passengers over a hundred years ago. The current management is hotly debated because of perceived over-regulation of the recreational sector, even though the stocks have grown. A recent assessment indicates the fishery is well over twice the rebuilding target.
As the stocks have grown, the species range has expanded considerably, and anglers in New England, who only a few years ago rarely saw a black sea bass, are catching them in great numbers. They are now so prevalent and such a sought-after species in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts that they are quickly becoming a staple for anglers in the region.
Black sea bass are structure-oriented but often venture considerable distances from hard bottom and well up the water column to feed. They forage on mussels, crabs and shrimp. The bigger they grow, the more predatory they become. With big heads and gaping jaws, they'll eat anything that fits in their mouths. Light-tackle techniques play to that voracious behavior.
Interestingly, modern techniques were developed with the advent of superthin braided lines, which make it possible to use light bucktails and jigs to entice the fish while drifting in water 50 to 70 feet deep.
TWITCH AND SHOUT
Ultralight spinning tackle became the norm thanks to the advantages gained with 4- to 8-pound-test braid, which enables anglers to fish ½- to 2-ounce bucktails
THE FISH DUG TOWARD THE BOTTOM 65 FEET BELOW.