Black Sea Bass Season Reopens October 1
Eagerly anticipated, that’s for sure, especially after the sustained havoc on weather and conditions wreaked via Ophelia’s visit that quashed any hope of a good closeout to the fluke season and kept boats in the slips for nearly a full work week.
So here it is for October 1-31: a 10-fish limit with a minimum possession length of 12.5 inches. There’s a bump to 15 sea bass from November 1 through New Year's Eve.
The $64,000 question: how’s the weekend into next week's weather shaping?
Yeah...man plans and God laughs. Who knows what to believe after the weather forecast debacles this past late spring and summer into early September? Multitudes of times the forecasts for rains and heavy winds never materialized, or marginally so, with seas totally fishable (rain not a problem as fish are already wet) yet rail wranglers stayed home and party and charter boats stayed at the docks. No fares, not go.
Lost fishing opportunities, and lost business that one cannot get back.
For now, it looks like a fair deakio, but the suggestion is to check several weather sites and if in doubt, call the boat(s) Saturday afternoon or early evening, or check the websites or Facebook for updates.
Enough of that.
Sea bass populations are healthy and the outlook, at least for the first two to three weeks of October is that of drop ‘n reel fishing. It gets pickier by the end of the month insofar as the bigger keepers, or knuckleheads as they’re oft referred to, have been worked over and the migration to the deeper wrecks
and structures gets underway. Still plenty of keeper bass hanging around, but loads of shorts will be in the mix.
The Garden State coast is blessed with an incredible artificial reef system, pretty much all will be loaded top to bottom with sea bass. Our faves this time of year are the Sea Girt, Shark River, Little Egg, Garden State North and South, Barnegat, Atlantic City, and Cape May reefs. Suffice to say if you have numbers for any structure(s) protruding off the ocean bottom, there will be sea bass over and around it.
To be sure, almost every party boat (and charter, for that matter) remaining in the Jersey fleet will be on the sea bass hunt next few weeks. Throw in the porgy bonus, and it’s fun fishing/great eating all around. Our head boat Fab Four includes the Capt. Cal II (Belmar), Jamaica II and Paramount (Brielle), and Dauntless (Point Pleasant). There are others, and all will put you on fish.
Rigs or jigs, it’s an either-or. It’s a given that the overwhelming majority of the bigger sea bass will be caught on jigs, be it a diamond metal or bucktail type. For the former, it’s either plain or with a colored tube, but increasing numbers of jiggers are adding a Gulp! or Fishbites grub or shrimp to the bare hook diamond and scoring some big fish. The same goes for the bucktail, be it a SPRO style head or ball head.
High/low rigs are the standard, but some opt for three hook rigs. Bait? Clams, either fresh or salted. We prefer the rainbow type: less snot and more meat that is tougher from the heavy salt infusion and is not as easily stripped from the hook(s). There are those who drop green crabs, squid strips, or cooked shrimp...all will catch the voracious sea bass. When we’re in a no-stinky-hands mode, it’s the Fishbites Fish’n Strips Clam.