One could not have asked for a better weekend to chase sea bass: warm Indian Summer (bordering on early summer) temperatures, light winds, and the forecast of moderately calm seas.

And big numbers of hungry sea bass.

When the season re-opened this past Tuesday, expectations were high, what with the increased 15-fish limit, and although “dampened” by overcast and periodic rain showers, those that made it out put fish in the coolers. Ditto a glorious Wednesday. No doubt today through Sunday’s weather and sea conditions is going to see fleets out on the distant wrecks, and the farther-off artificial reefs such as Atlantic City and Deep Water.

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The bump in the limit by an additional five fish is offset by the fact that keepers in the form of the 13-inch minimum length, to jumbos at four pounds and better, are moving offshore and positioning themselves in and around the deeper structures. That’s right, get ready to ride. Sure, you might be able to pick off some legal fish on the closer reefs and rocks, but chances are you’ll be swarmed by shorts which will be there in sometimes plague proportions. Get out the plastic, fill ‘er up and figure anywhere from 20 to 40 miles, sometimes farther, for cracks at not only a limit but specimen fish as well.

Tom P.
Tom P.

Bait has its devotees, and fresh clam out of the shell, or salted clam, on a high-low rig will be greedily inhaled. Squid strips are also going to be chomped. However, when it comes to knocking off the bigger fish, we’ve found jigs are the most effective ordnance this time of year. Predicated on the subsurface currents, the AVA-27 and 47, sometimes up to the 67, are the crush. Bucktails from two to six ounces sweetened with a four or five-inch Gulp! Grub will also get hammered. Figure a four-inch Gulp! Grub or Swimming Mullet as a teaser 12-16 inches above the metal for shots at doubleheaders.

The season runs through December 31.

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