Sea Bass are among the best target fish for beginners, their voracious appetites, aggressive bites and hard fights make them a great starter species. However, that doesn’t mean you can just go to the local pier with a clothes line and a picture hook There are some tips and tricks to reel in this greedy, but stubborn fighting fish.
Successful Sea Bass Fishing will incorporate a good knowledge of location and underwater structures, tackle and bait to use in the given conditions, the habits of Sea Bass, the rod and reel best suited to this fish and how to get the most from the fight that a Sea Bass will most certainly put up.
We will highlight the best of the tips we have heard and used over the course of the years, and we will leave the comments open on this page. So if you have anything to share please do so there!
1. Practice Patience
Take your time with your set up, be it on a boat, pier or shore. You can try drifting over a swim before deciding to anchor to see if there is any action. Make sure you know the bottom and where the structures are. If you find Bass you will know about it. If on a pier then try a few casts on different side, be aware the shallower the water / closer to shore the smaller the fish are likely to be.
Dont be worried about trying new spots or askign for advice, unless you are a commercial fisherman people are usually fairly open with their numbers and local fishing clubs, groups may be willing to help out as well.
2. Choose the Best Bass Times
The best time for Sea Bass is at Dawn and Dusk When the Bass are more likely to be feeding, but bites can be had throughout the day. You will know when you feel a bite, despite their small size they bite hard and fast. As it gets lighter it may be worth switching to strips of squid or live baits to add smell to the mix.
3. What are the Best Bass Lures and Baits
One of the distinct advantages of Sea Bass fishing is the wide range of baits, lures and tackle you can use to target them. Which equipment works best on any given day will depend on season, location, weather, sea state and visibility. It is worth knowing a little about a little before making that first cast.
In shallow water, despite most bass being bottom feeders, top water lures may be worth a few casts to see if anything bites. though certainly don’t spend to long if there is no action with these.
In deeper water it is better to go with Jigs, cranks, swim baits (those fake swimming fish that are a little pricey) Spoons (if it is clear the flashing metal may help) and bucktails (basically a hairy tailed jig!) I would go for white tail with these as it is a good match for a lot of bait fish.
If the weather is overcast or dark it may be worth trying a chatter bait lure, which is a versatile lure that aims to provide erratic action and flashes to attract bites a bit in less visibility. Crack baits will kick out sound that can help Bass follow the sound and not rely on sight.
When to use live or dead bait? Bass, like most fish, would prefer live bait but will attack and eat most others. Squid, clams, crabs, mussels and other bait fish Will all attract Bass. Presenting these on a jig just over ledges and rocky outcrops / wrecks is a great way to get bites.
4. What Is The Best Season For Sea Bass
Although Sea Bass Fishing season especially Black Sea Bass is (correctly) regarded as better from May to September there are opportunities to get on the fish outside of this time.
Studies have shown that as water temperatures decrease bass will move both offshore, and to warmer southern waters. (Just like me!) There is some concern that current ocean warming is driving them further north during Spring, putting juvenile lobsters in location like Maine under pressure.
However Sea Bass bunt by vibration, sight and smell so no matter the season, weather or conditions there is a chance to fish for them.
April and May as the waters warm up and spawning begins Sea Bass get hungry! (even more so than usual) Although most methods will work, see later for when to use those!, Bass will be hunting minnows, bluegills and shad. Although Squid is always a favorite. You can use cuts, or live bait or lure fish with crankbaits and jigs. If you have some real or artificial scent it will help if the conditions are not that clear. Smaller Bass will be found in estuaries, hiding from larger predator fish at this time.
- Now Winter can mean different things for different people, so lets call it water temperature. Sea Bass, Like all fish are cold blooded, they get their warmth (I know) from the water around them. The colder it gets the slower their metabolism drops and with it their need to feed. .
- This doesn’t mean you can’t get onto the fish, but adapting tactics will help. Slower lures as fish are unlikely to be willing to chase like in the summer months are recommended.
- If you are jigging then a fish finder will help to try to drop this as close to the fish as you can. (I know this sounds like you are basically putting the hook in the fishes mouth. It is winter thought!)
Head to the wrecks in Summer or if no wrecks then rocky bottoms, or features on the bottom This is where the large specimens will be hanging out. It is a great time to find and hook into them. If you are a little offshore and have a boat. ( if you are a little offshore and don’t have boat there may be a problem) then you can try both drifting and anchoring, but your fish finder will help you spot where there are hiding. BE aware if you are offshore your lighter fishing gear may hook into something with a little more grunt than you expected.
Water temperatures may be dropping and the fish may be moving slowly offshore of south. It will be harder, but not impossible to catch now. Try slowing down retrievals and using your fish finder more seriously. In these conditions, use lures like crankbait, and spinnerbait or cut squid.
5. Casting and Hooking In
The aim when lure fishing is to attract Sea Bass and convince them that your fake fish is a much better meal that what ever crab they were trying to dig out of the bottom. Good rod technique is going to help with this.
- Let the bait fall to the desired depth quickly and twitch the rod when reached.
- Reel in and jerk the rod intermittently as you bring the lure back in to create vibration and give the impression of a fish either in distress or darting around
- This will create flashes of light and vibration (depending on what lure you are using)
- keep you shoulder and arm relaxed and try to just flick the rod with your wrist. Keep hold of it though, when they bit they bite!
Before You Cast:
Before you cast the rod, practice dropping the lure a few lengths beneath the tip of the rod. Practice various casting techniques like pitching, underhand, sidearm casting, and flipping to lower the rod into the water. Try switching out rods of different lengths, sizes, and weights to suit the fishing conditions and fish you are hitting.
Be aware of your surroundings when casting, and not just those on the shore or the boat. It is easy to get fouled up on rigs and although lures have gone down in price losing them on a wreck or rocky bottom is never the highlight of any day. You can ask other fisherman if there are any major snags around, or use the Fish Finder if you are on the boat. We have a top tips article here on avoiding losing lures.
6, Best Equipment for Sea Bass Fishing
We have a larger article here on a great set up for Sea Bass ( and other wreck / structure set ups) as well as more in depth reviews of rods reels and tackle that are suited for Bass here and here. However the list below are some the better reasonably priced selections on Amazon. Click on the links for a price check.
Sea Bass Tackle
- A spinning rod up to about 7ft that can hold 20lb braid and up to one ounce lures. Check Price
- A half decent spinning reel that can hold the 20lb Braid Check Price
- leader up to 30lb (Fluro-carbon) Check Price
- barrel swivels up to 75lb Check Price
- Hooks, (we always prefer barbless) from 1/0 to 6/0 Check Price
- a selection of jigs, diamond spinners, crankbaits. If you are just trying we suggest a mixed pack like these Check Price
7. Preparing Sea Bass For The Table
If you are catching for the table then you need to know a couple of things on how to prepare the fish, It is exceptionally good fried but is also, even for a smaller fish, prone to flesh burning if you don’t bleed them, so do! They fight hard for their size and the lactic acid can build up in them.
Secondly but them on ice as soon as you can, it will slow down the burn, and with less blood it will prevent bacteria growth as well. It will also make the fillets easier to remove.
How you cool them is entirely up to you but speaking from experience its soft and flaky flesh is superb pan-fried with a little lemon drizzled on top. (we cook this on the boat if we get lucky in the morning session) It takes some beating.
8. Know your location
This is less about checking the GPS and more about where you will be fishing. There are limits, both for length and bag size for bass and you don’t want to have a great day out on the water and then get a fine when you get back to show for bringing home to many or under length fish. Check with your local state or country to double check these limits. They are there to preserve stocks and should be adhered to.
We don’t, wont, and frankly cant claim to know everything there is, that’s one of the joys of fishing in general – learning! However as a starter the tips and advice above will see you well in catching your first Sea Bass. An experience you are likely to remember for some time, especially if you take one home to eat!
Remember to stay safe and keep an eye on the weather and tides, especially if you are in unfamiliar areas, and the best tip we can give you is to take a variety of lures with you, you never know day to day to day what is going to catch the eyes of Sea Bass, you will just know when you have one bending your rod!
Hi I am Marc, when I am not in a classroom teaching you will find me, or more likely not find me, on a boat, trekking through the woods, sitting by a river or pier hoping for tight lines or a straight shot. I have been teaching Outdoor skills, fishing, archery, shooting, Kayaking, Climbing and more for over 30 years. Its about time I shared some of that with you all.