Author: Terra Firma Tackle
Giant Black Seabass
WARNING: Giant Black Sea Bass Are Protected in Most of Their Range. Do Not Intentionally Target These Fish. This Article Is Not Intended to Encourage Fishing For Giant Black Sea Bass
The Giant Black Seabass (Stereolepis gigas) is one of the largest coastal fish found in California. Despite their resemblance to groupers, Black Seabass are a not part of that family and are instead a member of wreckfishes. Easily identifiable by their size and appearance, it is unlikely they these fish will be misidentified in California. Reaching sizes approaching 8 feet in length and potentially over 700 pounds in weight, Giant Seabass are enormous fish. These are also a long lived fish, high in food value and not exceptionally numerous. As such a monumental creature they have been protected in most of their range, and as a result should not be targeted directly. However, many of them are hooked incidentally by landbased anglers each year and the vast majority are lost due to the fishes size, fighting ability and penchant for reefy areas.
Seabass, Giraffe, Black Bass, BSB, BBSB
Most Black Seabass encountered by landbased fishermen in California will be hooked on piers. These fish, when present, are usually smaller specimens, under 5 feet in length and are often readily hooked on any bait in the water. These smaller fish fight quite hard, and large head shakes and blistering runs to structure result in many lost fish.
When incidentally hooked, larger Black Seabass can either be enormously difficult to subdue, or seemingly docile on the line. The fight is best described as large head shakes, numerous spectacular very long runs, far faster than one would expect given the fishes lumbering appearance. For most smaller fish that may be hooked accidentally, lighter tackle is usually up to the task. Multiple smaller specimens have been brought pier-side on line in the 60lb class. These fish, if still green should be cut free, however if the fish are floating from exhaustion as they often do, they should be released in the water either by the angler themselves or the authorities. Do not be shy about asking for help to release these fish safely. Most anglers that are successful in taming these accidental hook ups opt for a braided line such as Bullbuster Braid (https://bullbuster.net/braided...) with a long “rub leader” or shock leader of monofilament. This shock leader is important as a result of the seabass’ tendency to bee line for structure and kelp, potentially cutting off the angler. Usually 10-12 feet of heavy mono such as Bullbuster Leader Material (https://bullbuster.net/grander...) is used as a rub leader to make sure the angler lands their quarry, whatever species that may be.
Occasionally larger grade Seabass are encountered from the surf while fishing for Sevengilland Soupfin sharks. These fish, like their smaller brethren hooked on piers, are usually lost due to tackle that simply isn’t up to the task. Unlike bringing these fish pier-side, surf-hooked seabass tend to be much more difficult to subdue on light tackle and those that are landed are usually landed on heavy landbased shark gear with line in the 80lb+ class. Long sections of heavy mono rub leaders are a requirement when landbased sharking in general, and both of these standard rigging features lead to more seabass being landed on the sand when hooked than from the planks. As a general rule, the more cable or wire the rig has, the better the chance of seeing the fish that eats the bait, this is especially true for tanker grade seabass when they decide to consume baits meant for other fish.
Seabass can be found all along the Southern California coast, but Los Angeles County and San Diego both seem to have the highest concentrations of these massive predators. Unfortunately, many of the best locations to target Sevengills, Threshers, and Soupfin Sharks also tend to hold the most Seabass which can lead to many nuisance hook ups, and if not rigged properly, many lost fish.
Seabass are abundant all times of year, but most of them will be hooked in the spring and summer time, probably a result of the more abundant food sources and baitfish.
Shark fishing is full of surprises, and hooking a Giant Seabass is quite the rush when it does happen. Due to their potential size and enormous weight they can and do fight harder than most any other species of fish one is likely to hook from land. However, please exercise extreme caution when handling these fish on the beach. Respect the animal and remove the hook and gear as quickly as possible. Do not pause for photographs, do not delay the release of the fish in any way. Do whatever it takes to release the fish in the best condition possible while at the same time preserving your own safety. Obey all laws when fishing, including those protecting these magnificent species from intentional targeting and harm! Since seabass tend to float when exhausted, please take the time to revive and deflate these fish before release. Oftentimes from the shore the best way to do this is to swim the fish out to deeper water and help it swim down. Use caution when performing this potentially dangerous task, and put your safety first!
Thanks for reading! For more information and rigs for landbased shark fishing please check out our own website at TerraFirmaTackle.com!
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