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Why can't I catch a keeper sized Black Sea Bass???

I catch tens of black sea bass every time I'm out.  They have become somewhat of a nuisance fish because they are 99% 10-12 inches.  I've only caught 1 over 13" and it was very good to eat.  I catch them in 75-130 feet bottom fishing.  Do you have to go deeper for the bigger ones or is it that I have to use bigger bait when I start catching the smaller ones?  I'd love to catch more keepers instead of tearing through my bait.  Most videos I see of anglers catching bigger ones are in colder waters.   Any suggestions?


  • poncedoradoponcedorado Posts: 877 Officer
    I haven't been an offshore guy for a few years now but from my experience, you're just catching normal size ones unfortunately.

    Maybe here and there you'll get on a bite/spot where you're catching 13-14 inchers, but anything 16 or better is a pretty unusually large one. And most, as you've observed, are 12 or less. 75-130 sounds like the normal area for adult sea bass, not sure if they'd err bigger if you went a little deeper or not.
  • tagtag Posts: 9,865 Admiral
    The 13” rule is because at about 11-12” they migrate offshore. Putting the minimum limit at 13” is less controversial than a shutting down the fishery. 
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,700 Captain
    Live bait. The bigger ones will eat a livey if it isn't too big.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski Posts: 16,809 AG
    tag said:
    The 13” rule is because at about 11-12” they migrate offshore. Putting the minimum limit at 13” is less controversial than a shutting down the fishery. 
    yep.    I remember when keeper gags at 22" could be caught.  now with 24 being the minimum seems like all I catch are 22 and a halfs.  
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • bcnucsbcnucs Posts: 131 Deckhand
    I really think in our area its the abundance of red snapper.  I really think they are eating the juvenile sea bass and other species as well.  I mean now its getting crazy, to the point of people are catching red snapper on king mackerel spoons, and they are huge not uncommon to see a 30lb snapper these days.
  • MangroveMarkMangroveMark Posts: 584 Officer
    I caught a few 16-17 inch ones in 155-170 last summer. They were mixed in with nice pink porgies.
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