Black Sea Bass

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Black Sea Bass

by Geoffrey English

Black Bass: a.k.a Rock Bass
Black Sea Bass, also known as Rock Bass, can be found in the western waters of the Northern Atlantic Ocean. They range along the eastern coast of North America, from Massachusetts south to the Gulf of Mexico. Though they span along a wide area, most black sea bass are found between New York and South Carolina. They usually stay in shoreline waters, but they have been found in waters over 400 feet in depth. 

Black Sea Bass are recognized by their single, long dorsal fin which separates them from the typical bass with two separate dorsal fins. They are also known for having a high anal fin, and rounded caudal and pectoral fins. They are known scientifically as Centropristis Striata and are normally black in color, as indicated by their name. Like many other aquatic dwellers, Black Sea Bass can change color to match their environment. They use this for protection, and while hunting for ambushing their prey.

All Black Sea Bass are hermaphrodites, changing from female to male halfway through their lives. The larger males have small bumps on their heads, giving them the nickname of “humpbacks.” They reproduce quickly, breeding in the middle of May, and giving birth in June.  The eggs are about a third of an inch in size, and usually spawn in water temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  The eggs can float on water, and it usually takes them a day and a half to develop.

Black Sea Bass spend much of thier time around shelter such as wrecks, reefs, corals, and rocks.
Rock Bass can weigh up to nine pounds, although most grow to around one and a half pounds. During the non-breeding cycle, they move offshore to water depths between 200 and 400 feet.  They find shelter around wrecks, reefs, corals, and rocks.  They don’t move very quickly, usually coasting along with the movement of the water. They often rest on the ocean floor, looking like they’re dead when they really aren’t.

There are some techniques for catching this fish.  Most anglers are successful fishing from boats not far off the shore. It is possible to catch the Black Sea Bass off the shoreline or even a pier, but the success rate is less.  Since they like to live on the ocean floor, some people have found success in bottom fishing.  Since they don’t move very quickly, it may take time before they actually bite.

Black Sea Bass are often caught on either live bait or jigs.  They respond well to small fish, shrimp, squid, worms, and crab. They are quite aggressive once hooked, and are good fighters.  A strong line and leader are needed to catch Black Sea Bass, and persistence and patience are a must.  They may be sluggish by nature, but they certainly wake up when hooked.


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