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April 27, 2011

New England Sabiki-Style Sea Bass

This expert uses sabiki cod rigs to catch slammer black sea bass in southern New England.

seabass rig
For weight on the sabiki rig, 3- to 8-ounce bank sinkers 1 work well, or you can clip on a 3- to 4-ounce metal Bridgeport, Halco or diamond jig 2 to do double duty as attractor and weight.


New England Black Sea Bass

Black sea bass are opportunistic feeders that strike aggressively, fight hard all the way to the surface and make excellent eating. Their varied diet consists of crustaceans, sea worms, small fish, squids and even bivalves.

Pros find sea bass in large clusters on structure during spawning, staging and migration periods, so timing is key to success. Adults migrate inshore and northward as water temperatures increase in the spring. The northern population of black sea bass reportedly spawns from mid-May to July between Massachusetts and New Jersey, although some experts say the spawn may last into August in cooler areas. The fish then return to deeper waters, moving south and offshore as ocean temperatures drop in the fall.

What: Black sea bass.

When: Mid-May through September.

Where: Southern New England, Rhode Island, Buzzards Bay, Martha's Vineyard and Block Island.

Capt. Ned Kittredge
Dartmouth, Massachusetts


Kittredge matches lightweight fast-action rods to small conventional reels spooled with heavy braid and 150 yards of lighter PowerPro braid. The thin line allows him to fish with the lightest weight possible in the current and maintain excellent feel even in deep water.

When buying bait, he prefers "unwashed" squid from a local market. Calamari squid, which is usually supplied in tackle shops, is mainly intended for human consumption. It's processed ashore and washed in fresh water, with bleach added to whiten the flesh and remove the ink. Conversely, unwashed squid is processed at sea and is rinsed only in salt water before frozen. Most of the ink, which adds scent, remains in the squid.

Rods: Lightweight fast-action rods suitable for bottomfishing in 100 feet of water with 4 to 8 ounces of weight.

Reels: Small, quality drags matched to rods: Shimano Tekota 300, Penn 975LD or the like.

Lines: 50-pound braid with 15-pound braid top shot.

Lures: Cod sabiki rigs and diamond-style jigs.