Last Call for Sea Bass
Not last minute, but last call, because with 10 days remaining in this first portion of the segmented sea bass season, and the capricious weather patterns (read: wind and more wind), there might only be a few shots remaining to take advantage of what continues to be an unbelievable stretch of cooler-filling action.
Epic. Spectacular. Stellar. Phenomenal. The descriptions regarding the sea bass bite go on from there.
Party boat captains report many runs with fares each icing their 10 fish limit only an hour or so into the trip. If not “boat limits,” pretty close to it, the latter being the exception.
Charter boat skippers agree, with drop ‘n reel fishing reported from Monmouth down to Cape May.
It’s been both numbers and size, even this late in the season which kicked off May 17. Usually, the first couple of week produces the biggest fish, aka “knuckleheads” because of the protruding knob that forms at the forehead upon reaching a certain size. These in addition to huge amounts of keepers at the 12.5-inch minimum. Loads of 2.5 to 3.5-pound fish were swung, along with fish in the 4-5 pound class. Some are even heftier, such as the 5-lb. 14 oz. hog caught earlier this week by Michelle BayBay from Philadelphia aboard the Jamaica II out of Brielle.
And it’s still happening. Sizes and numbers. Numbers and sizes.
The general rule is that if one wants to catch the bigger specimens, opt to work metal jigs such as the AVA-17 and 27, or the smaller Nomad Streakers. These imitate sand eels, a dietary fave of knuckleheads. A teaser above (the YUM Minnow in particular has been devastating this spring) ups the odds of even more and quicker contact. Double headers are not uncommon for sure. And so it’s going. However, bait, usually fresh or salted clam, is kept pretty close when tallying the bigger bass in the buckets. Squid strips are also eagerly inhaled, as are green crabs, and the Fishbites E-Z Clam and Fish ‘n Strips Clam baits. All on high/low rigs. We like the latter synthetic pair...no muss no fuss, and they produce.
The countdown continues. Not much time to put a few vacuum-sealed packs of these delectable fillets in the freezer. Of course, fried sea bass fillets caught that day are a culinary treat, and we bake the bigger knuckleheads whole. No worries, though, as the sweet white meat freezes well and can be enjoyed months down the road.
June 19 will be here before you know it. Make the time to get in on what, from this corner at least, is the best sea bass bite in decades.