Sea Bass Fishing is one of the best introductions to the sport of fishing. For those among us, ourselves included, who do catch and release but also sometimes just have to catch and cook there are few fish who offer the sport and the taste of the fighting Sea Bass. After a fight with this Pitbull like fighter we always feel like we have earnt the meal it will provide.
Sea Bass can be a catch all term for a few species that are not actually bass, though very similar fish. The Black sea bass, (like the one pictured below) Stripped and European Seabass are considered true bass, the Chilean and White sea bass are not. Although all are a great catch. They are superb for beginners to fishing (and us veterans) as their lack of fear and wild bites are unmistakable the experience fighting them brings people back again and again.
You will need to pack some medium gear as they do put up a fight, and they tend to like to live around rocky shores and reefs. We have highlighted a set of gear below that should be a decent set up to get you started.
Starter Gear for Catching Sea Bass
Sea Bass live in many environments. A multi-purpose rod of about 6 to 7 feet with a sensitive enough tip to withstand the initial bite and lunge. A spinning reel with 20–30lb braid or line and 30 pound leader. A two hook rig is preferred by many anglers, and if you have access squid make an excellent bait.
We will highlight the details here.
- A medium weight rod that’s seven feet long, and a reel with 20 to 30 pound-test line. We have heard great things about the Sougayilang Fishing Rod Reel Combos which come in a variety of sizes. We have ordered a couple of these and will be reviewing them soon. You can check the price here.
- Top-and-bottom rigs with baited hooks, weighted with sinkers between four and eight ounces (depending on how strong the current is and how deep the water is).
- 20-30 pound test braid (it doesn’t stretch like monofilament) so you can feel strikes, especially softer ones, and feel the jig or spinner on the bottom.
- A selection of jigs, lures and potentially spinners, to which you can opt to add bait to the the hooks if you wish. These are fairly cheap on Amazon. You can read a great article on. How to Rig Metal Jigging Spoons here.
Fishing for sea bass is great for beginners, it doesn’t require heavy and expensive equipment, and Sea Bass are not particularly shy fish. This means for the most part when they bite you will know about it. There are still some tips and tricks that are worth reading over before you back up the car and head for the coast. We actually have more in-depth ones here, but you are here now so we will offer you some tips to help you in finding the fish, and then what to do when the fish find you!
Ten Tips and Tricks to Try When Fishing For Sea Bass
1. Pick Your Spot
Sea bass. especially Black Sea bass, have a tendency to prefer structures like wrecks, reefs and rocks, piers and even moorings. They can of course be found anywhere but these are your best options. You will be able to find these on admiralty charts or apps like Navionics ( if you are on a boat)
2. Pick Your Time
The best time for bass fishing is early morning ( isn’t everything) and dusk. They are likely to be more apt to be feeding at these time. Although the mornings may be early, there is a ray of sun light. The best action is usually in Spring to Fall, or from May to September so at least the weather will be pleasant, and the sunrise early!
3. Pick your bait
Sea Bass are greedy! It is likely you could put a hook through a slice of spam and pull up a sea bass on the end of it. (we once caught 3 sardines using nothing but the ring pulls from three cans of beer – not even hooks) . However for arguments sake lets leave the spam to one side. Your best baits depend on your style of fishing, but live and dead shrimp, strips of squid, clams, and even bait fish and jigs. plugs and spinners (diving as you need to get down to their stomping ground) will work. They seem to be perpetually hungry fish.
Be aware of the conditions when picking your bait and method as well. Lure fishing may be suitable for clear waters or sunny days, but sometimes you may need to appeal to nose rather than their eyes, and some squid, or squid scent, mackerel or sardine heads or cuts could help with this.
4. Bleed them out
Sea bass are not amberjack or albacore, but they do put up a fight. It is worth, and speaking from experience recommended, if you catch a fish big enough for the table that you bleed it out to stop the lactic acid tainting the flesh. Make sure you have ice, or access to ice and soon as possible after bleeding.
5. Look at what they have eaten
That big appetite we mentioned earlier means your bait or jig is unlikely to be the first thing they have eaten that morning/day. If they ”throw up” yes this is a thing, you can see if they regurgitate crabs, squid, sand eels, clams or similar. If they do, why not try them ( if you have them) on your next couple of casts. (I am not sure if it would be a good idea to use one of the thrown up foods, but waste not want not! 😛 )
5. What Size Hook For Sea Bass
Bass have large mouths, this is no inland dace or chub. You will need to use a hook with 1/0 -3/0. This will enable smaller Sea Bass to about 1 pound to be caught but is also large enough to manage pollock, cod and grouper. Larger hooks to 6/0 would be needed if there are larger fish species present.
6. Catch and Release
If you are catching for the table do so sustainably. If you are releasing then use barbless hooks to make removals easier, especially if because of their aggressive bite the hook is in deep. Handle the fish with wet hands so not to damage them. You will have time for a photo, but get it back in the water as soon as you can to limit stress.
7. Size Limits for Sea Bass
If you are Sea Bass fishing for table you will need to know the size and catch limits for the area and country you are fishing and it does vary. For example in North Carolina the minimum size is 12.5 inches and 15 fish a day, where as in the UK, for example it is a minimum size of 16.5 inches and only 2 fish a day. Check first!
8. Keep your Gear in the Water
Most Bass, sea and otherwise, are known to strike at any time. This includes close to the edge, or the boat. If you are using Jigs or Plugs keeping working them right to the end of the cast and you may be in for a little surprise. It is always a shock to see a bass dart up and take it just when you thought it was all over. Bass are bottom feeders, but sometimes that lure may be jsut to irresistible.
9. Have More Than One Rod Set Up ( if you can)
We named this article What Gear do you need to fish for Sea Bass, and we focused on the USA shores for the most part. However if you are sitting in the UK reading this you may need to scale up a little. The bass, the European bass is a little bigger, at least away form the shore, but the decision matters on both side of the pond.
You will get more sport on lighter gear with Sea Bass, both in Europe and the US, but if you hook a grouper with that half a squid you have down on the bottom it may provide more sport than you bargained for. We sort this out by targeting both bass and larger fish separately and have set ups for both to hand.
If you take some heavier gear ready set up you will be able to change between the two if you need. It wont stop you losing the goliath you hooked on 15 pound line, but it will at least give you the opportunity to ”say” you hooked one before it snapped you.
Do you want some recipes for that hard earned catch, check out these guys who have some corkers on their site!
10. Finally and Importantly
So to recap, Sea Bass fishing is an excellent introduction for beginners, both in fishing ability and in respect to the level of gear needed. We have linked to some of the more recommended gear for Sea Bass above, and it is all under 100 USD. Which is a pretty good entry point for beginners, you can scale up or add to your gear as needed, but as with most things in fishing your biggest expense will be time, and that will be well spent going after this little terrier of a fish.
If it is your first time Sea Bass fishing we strongly suggest you go with someone more experienced, especially but not solely, because there is more to know than how to catch these fish, you are in nature, and by or on the sea. Learning the risks, tides, weather that can affect your safety is vitally important.
So grab an experienced friend and you can both head off and bring home the
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.