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5 Tips for Catching Black Sea Bass on Cape Cod

Ryan Collins

Black sea bass season opens this Saturday May 18th. I know many of you have been waiting all year for the start of sea bass season, and I'm pumped it's finally here!

Not only are black sea bass some of the best tasting fish we have here on Cape, but they are also a very fun fish to catch when using light tackle.

Whether you are looking to put fresh fish on the table, or just want to get your kids into some fast action, then black sea bass is for you. In this article I'll share with you 5 tips for catching sea bass when the season opens up this Sunday.


1) Know The Regulations

May 18th is the start of the Massachusetts sea bass season and it stretches until September 8th. Here are the rules to keep in mind before heading out this season:

When packing your gear for a trip, make sure to include a measuring tape and a copy of your fishing license.  

Last year while filming this sea bass episode for My Fishing Cape Cod TV, I was boarded by the Environmental Police. Fortunately all my fish were keeper-size, I had my fishing license, and I had lifejackets and all required safety gear. 

The EP's also informed me that I could legally fillet sea bass and other species while on the water. The only species you cannot legally fillet while on the water (according to what they told me) are striped bass. 

If you are going to fillet sea bass on the water, then my recommendation would be to keep the skin on the fillet. That way it's very simple and easy for the authorities to identify your catch in the event you are boarded.

2) Gear & Technique

When the bite is on fire, pretty much anything will work to catch black sea bass. There's no shortage of productive techniques, and this year I would like to try catching black sea bass on the fly rod.

For me, the most productive technique has been to bounce Joe Baggs Flukies just off the bottom, which is where the sea bass generally like to hang.

When fishing inshore areas in 15-30 feet of water, the 1oz and 2oz Flukies will be the perfect weight. If the wind is hard and your drift fast, then I would recommend the 3oz or 4oz versions. Chartreuse and pink work well, but to be honest I don't think color matters all that much.  

Before I drop my Flukie to the bottom, I like to add a 5 inch Gulp swimming mullet in various colors, to give the jig a little extra action and scent. A strip of squid would also work well.

For sea bass fishing I use a 6'6" light spinning rod and spinning reel rigged up with 15 pound Power Pro braid, with a 4 foot 20 pound fluorocarbon leader.

Drop the jig to the bottom and slowly move it up and down. If the sea bass are in the area, then it probably won't be long until you feel a hard strike on the line.

3) Locations

You can catch black sea bass in the Cape Cod Canal and inside Cape Cod Bay. However the best action will be found in Nantucket Sound, Vineyard Sound and Buzzard's Bay. 

  1. Ryan, a group of us are planning on fishing the end of Aug out of south yarmouth with jimmy the greek. We’re going to fish for sea bass, flounder and cod. What are your recommendations for tackle, lures, weights and so on for these fish.

    1. Hey Gary 👋

      I’m happy that you are asking me for advice, however Jimmy the Greek is a much more skilled fisherman than I! He is super knowledgeable!

      I would honestly recommend asking Jimmy what he thinks. He knows those spots much better than I do and can probably tell you exactly what you will be fishing with tackle-wise.

      LMK what he says when you ask him 🎣

  2. Always.a thanks.Vic (Wolfie)

    1. Thanks for reading Vic, and gluck out there!

  3. Great news thanks

    1. Gluck if you give it a shot!

  4. Nice! probably will be out there with my brother this weekend!

    1. Awesome, good luck Leslie!


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