Sea Bass fishing on Nantucket Sound can be a great way to introduce family members and friends to the exciting world of angling.
When using the correct light tackle gear, these fish put up a great fight and are, in my opinion, one of the best tasting fish in the Atlantic.
In this article I will tell you all about Black Sea Bass as a species, plus some of the many lessons I've learned while targeting these fish. Specifically, we'll talk tips and tactics, as well as the best gear for bottom fishing the plentiful black sea bass grounds of Nantucket Sound.
Intro To Black Sea Bass
The black sea bass is actually a member of the grouper family, and just like grouper, black sea bass contain a couple of very sweet tasting, white meat fillets.
They are known as “protogynous hermaphrodites” which means they start as females and end up as mature males. The males will develop a big hump on the top of their heads and can take on a gorgeous light blue to purple coloration.
During the colder months, the Northeast biomass of sea bass will push out to deeper waters east of Cape Cod, typically staying in depths from around 250–550 feet. When the water temperatures rise, they move into shallower inshore water depths from 10-120 feet.
Sea Bass In Nantucket Sound
May 19th is the start of the Massachusetts sea bass season season and it stretches until September 1st. These fish occupy waters along the east coast of the US from the Gulf of Maine all the way down to the Florida Keys.
Fortunately for anybody fishing Cape Cod waters, we have one of the healthiest biomasses of black sea bass anywhere along the East Coast.
In particular, Nantucket Sound is a popular hangout for this species of fish. The waters of Nantucket Sound are the perfect depth and they contain productive structure.
Plus Nantucket Sound is home to some of their favorites meals including:
All of this helps to make Nantucket Sound a great place for the novice angler to enjoy a terrific day of black sea bass fishing.
One of the many reasons why Nantucket Sound is my favorite place to target sea bass is because of the shallow waters. This makes it easy to use lighter weight jigs and utilize the lightest gear possible which makes for the best fight, and gives the fish a chance to take line, and really put a good bend in the rod.
I wasn’t introduced to sea bass fishing until a few years back when I was invited on a trip to Nantucket Sound by Goose Hummock Shop’s manager, Danny Jones and our close friend, Capt. Rich Haight.
We left out of Bass River at 6am and were back at the house enjoying cold beverages and filleting our limit of this tasty fish by early afternoon. I quickly fell in love with this fishery!
During my first sea bass trip I brought along two of my lighter vertical jigging combos which I usually use for targeting striped bass. I brought two setups - one spinning and one conventional.
Both reels were spooled with 30 pound Power Pro braid and 20-30 pound fluorocarbon leaders.
I also brought along a box of jigs including:
For many years the most popular way to fool sea bass was with bait. The most commonly used baits are:
Even now, probably the most talked about and used technique to catch sea bass while in the 15-35ft depth range is to put a strip of squid on a 1oz - 2.5oz buck tail jig and drop it to the bottom, bouncing it around any structure.
This was the technique I started with, but I soon found that holding bottom with the wind and tide conditions was difficult, plus I was catching a lot of undersize sea bass (under 15 inches,) scup and sea robins.
I then dug in to my box and tied on a 4oz Shimano Butterfly-Flat Fall jig and quickly noticed a huge difference in the quality of fish I was catching.
Pretty soon both Danny and Capt. Rich tied on 3.5-5oz Butterfly jigs from Shimano and within a little over an hour we had a cooler full of mostly 20+ inch sea bass, and were soon headed back to the dock with full coolers.
Where To Fish For Sea Bass In Nantucket Sound
For a beginner boat-owner or boat-angler who is interested in making the trip to Nantucket Sound and putting some black sea bass on the deck, then launching at the boat ramps highlighted below is a great place to start.
If you have good sonar and side-scan capabilities on your boat or kayak, then look for any rock piles, deep drop-offs or holes virtually anywhere in the Sound. These places can hold piles of sea bass.
Fortunately for us, the "powers that be" have also created a few artificial reefs which are always good places to start the search.
Although black sea bass is the most popular fish in this area, it is not out of the ordinary to hook in to tautog, scup, and fluke while dropping the right baits around these structures. All of these fish make for great table fish.
I tend to invest more money into my gear than the average angler because of my huge passion for the sport as well as being a bit of a “gear junkie.” Although most of the gear I spoke about in this article is on the "slightly more pricey side" here at the Goose we can get you outfitted with good quality, affordable gear as well as advice plus tips and tricks to get you landing these beautiful fish in no time.
Even with very little fishing experience, sea bass fishing in Nantucket Sound can make for a great day on the water for the whole family. Easy access to the fishing grounds, the relaxed nature of bottom fishing, and the good chance of taking home dinner all make for great reasons why anyone with a boat should spend a day or two this season exploring the fishery.
This year I hope to see you out on the water, and be sure to swing into The Goose Hummock Shop in Orleans or Dennis for all things fishing, or just to introduce yourself and say hello
Good luck and tight lines!
Sam Brown was born and raised on Cape Cod in the town of Orleans. Sam is a terrific resource for information pertaining to the fresh & saltwater fisheries of Outer Cape Cod. You can visit Sam at the Goose Hummock in Orleans where he is employed full-time.