Prized not only as excellent seafood, sea bass are noted for the fight they give the avid fisherman. Found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, and ranging widely in size from average to immense, these sought-after fish are not difficult to catch, provided you are armed with the proper gear and bait.
Buy or catch sardines, mullet, eels, croakers, pogy (also called menhaden), or mackerel. Be sure to keep the bait alive if possible; if not, store it where it will remain cool and fresh. Since bass are opportunistic feeders, some anglers have used shrimp and crab, but with lesser results. Still, when using natural bait, keep in mind that the bass have many other similar meals from which to choose. For the best catches, use artificial lures tipped with bait.
Use this jig around steep drop-offs when fishing for bottom-dwelling bass, because it sinks quickly. When jigging, either start at the bottom, jigging the whole way down, then experiment at progressively shallower depths, or let the lure drop to the bottom and jig it aggressively to the surface. Some recommend “tipping” (spearing the hook) with natural bait such as squid or clam to help attract bass, while others believe doing so interferes with the jig’s action.
Tip a jigging spoon with natural bait to attract the bass. This lure does not sink as readily as a bucktail jig; use jigging action on both the descent and when reeling it in.
Tip the viper spoon with cut, live, or artificial bait to attract more bass; each lure has two to three hooks; tip them all. This lure is one of the most versatile and can be drifted, trolled, or cast. The spoon part of the jig is followed by a secondary bead lure that draws in bass with its double action.
Use this when bass are feeding aggressively on a shoal of submerged baitfish. Because it resembles a baitfish and the action mimics injury, bass can’t resist it when in a feeding frenzy. Diving plugs float when cast, but dive while reeling.
Follow circling and diving gulls to surface-feeding bass to use a surface plug. When several bass force a school of baitfish to the surface, a surface plug will remain on top of the water where the action is; as with diving plugs, the surface plug will mimic the swimming patters of a crippled fish, which is sure to draw the attention of one or more bass.
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