Friday, June 10, 2011

Sea Bass

Sea bass are among the best-tasting fish in the ocean if you use a good sea bass recipe. I caught my first sea bass while deep sea bottom fishing off the coast of Savannah. That was years ago, and since then, I’ve caught numerous sea bass in Georgia and in Florida waters. The species of sea bass that inhabit the southern Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico is the black sea bass, Centropristis striata.

These fish don’t get very big. The largest ones I’ve landed were offshore and weighed around three pounds. The Florida state record fish weighed just over five pounds, and the Georgia record sea bass weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces. Black sea bass are mostly bottom dwellers, hanging around rocks, reefs, and wrecks. A member of the grouper family, sea bass have large mouths and relatively large scales. Although they don’t technically school, they’re often found in groups. If you find a good spot, you might catch numerous fish, one right after another.

I’ve also caught sea bass inshore, around oyster beds, pier pilings, jetties, and bridge pilings. Generally speaking, inshore individuals are smaller than their offshore counterparts, but you can still catch some legal-size sea bass in sounds, bays, and tidal creeks. The legal size in Georgia is 12” total length, and the daily bag limit is 15. In the Florida Atlantic, the legal size is also 12”, with a bag limit of 15 fish. In the Gulf of Mexico, the legal size is 10 inches, and there’s no daily limit. Black sea bass can be fished for all year in Georgia and Florida waters, as there’s no closed season.

I’ve caught sea bass on live shrimp, dead shrimp, and cut bait. A lot of folks use squid for bait. I’ve known anglers who caught the fish on curly tail jigs, too. They made short bounces across the bottom with the jigs. My problem with using jigs for sea bass is that you get a lot of hang-ups. Remember – these guys are usually around bottom structure.

It amazes me that more fishermen don’t target these tasty fish! With a good sea bass recipe, they make some exceptionally fine eating.

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