One of many fish worthy of consideration by Cape Cod, Massachusetts saltwater anglers seeking good-tasting fish is the often-overlooked black sea bass, known to the discriminating for its delicate-tasting fillets.
A member of Serranidae family which includes striped bass, kelp bass and grouper, black sea bass are rocky-bottom-dwellers, which makes their presence in Woods Hole’s and Falmouth’s rather sandy environs somewhat unusual. Usually a structure-loving fish that favors rocks and ledges and with a preference for deeper water, black sea bass nevertheless show up off Woods Hole in waters as shallow as 18′.
On average, Woods Hole’s and Falmouth’s black sea bass run between one and three pounds, with the occasional large specimen of three to eight pounds.
While most anglers prefer to fish for black sea bass from Woods Hole’s public pier across the street from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, anglers who fish from a jonboat, tin skiff or a kayak have more options.
One is to launch the from the ramp off Water Street and tie off from the stanchions of the wooden bridge with a bow painter on the outgoing tide. Dip the appropriate bait and tackle into the water around and amongst the pilings.
The other is to launch from the ramp at Spring Street off Water Street on the Falmouth waterfront and paddle out to Hadley Harbor.
Best tactic for black sea bass is a two-hook set-up which places the lower hook near the bottom on the end of 24″ of leader. Place a second hook 18″ or so above the first. Use a bank sinker in the 2.5 to 4 oz. range to hold the bait and hook in place in the bay’s strong tidal currents. Black sea bass are small, so use light line (5-10 lb. test), light swivels, small hooks, and light leaders.
For bait, sea clams cut into pieces the size of grapes are an excellent choice, and inexpensive. You can usually find sea clams washed up on any of Massachusetts’s outer barrier beaches, such as Duxbury’s or Ipswich’s, after a nor’easter. Jigging works best: let the weight tap the bottom, then lift the bait several inches to keep the bait out of the reach of spider crabs. Skilled and ubiquitous, spider crabs have a well-deserved reputation as bait crooks.
Black sea bass’s flesh won’t brook even a brief exposure to sunlight or heat after they’ve been caught, so be sure to ice your catch. Crushed or flaked ice in a small cooler will preserve the fish. Bleed your catch by cutting the fish across the neck, just behind the gills, to preserve the fillets’ appealing translucency. Bleeding your catch will also keep your fillets fresh a day or two longer in the fridge.
another resource: North American Kayak Fishing.