• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On May 24, 2019
  • Comments
  •  2

Black sea bass season just reopened in Jersey with regulations dictating a window from May 15th to June 22ndwith a 10 fish limit and 12-1/2 inch minimum size and you bet, the bite is flat out on.

I hopped on the EightBall with Captain Dom Mancuso to ply some of the inshore wrecks in reefs in 60 to 80 foot of water and the rough southerly seas at 4 to 5 foot made for some challenging drifts with a paucity of hits to start. Salted clams were deployed as baits, but it was only a hit there and a hit there, nothing crazy. That is until I decided to up the game and introduce some scent into the mix.

I grabbed a bottle of FinEssence shedder crab fish oil and doused the salted clam baits in the juice, as well as putting on some Berkeley Gulp! 2-inch minnows on the size 3/0 Gamakatsu hooks. In an instant, those little taps from sea bass became pounding hits, and in a split second we began to load the cooler. The key here is to get the freshest baits as possible. If you don’t have access to in- the- shell clams, soak your salted clams in scented juices that marinate and make otherwise tasteless baits into delectable meals for black sea bass.

Immerse any baits you have beforehand so the juices infuse into the offerings and switch out clams after every third drop to refresh the scent if you haven’t had a hit. If you have pre-cut strip baits from bluefish, mackerel or squid, grab a gallon Ziploc bag, put the baits in it, and water the whole kit and caboodle with the FinEssence oil the night before, allowing the baits to simmer in the fridge overnight. Fresh clams already have plenty of scent in them but its always solid to give them a good mix anyway in the juice.

When currents are running strong as they were on our day, cut clam tongues in nice, straight strips as they will not whirl and spin around when down on the bottom, but flow naturally with the current. Get on the sea bass now as the wrecks and reefs will get picked off pretty quickly. Try your game in 70 to 100 feet of water and don’t leave home without the special sauce! It can make or break a day.


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