• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On February 15, 2019
  • Comments
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Right now off the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Bight, giant jumbo black sea bass are setting up on the 50 to 80 mile wrecks.

Winter heavyweights are far from packing it in. Not the usual 1 to 2 pounders you’re used to seeing in the summer, but true knuckleheads of 4 to 8 pounds that you only get a shot at in the winter. Jumbo sea bass mean an upgrade in gear to handle the depths and weights as fishing grounds are generally in the 200 to 300 foot range, and with three hook rigs and sometimes 20 ounces of weight, you need beefier gear.

Start with the right set up. Reel wise, go with a high speed retrieve such as a Shimano Torium 20 or Avet MXL, match it with 7 to 7-1/2 foot rod rated medium to heavy 20 to 50-pound with moderate to fast flex like a Shimano Terramar TMCE70H. Spool up with 50-pound Power Pro Braid with a 10 foot top shot of 40-pound TripleFish mono leader. To increase your odds of filling the cooler, more hooks on a rig equals more fish on each drop.

I use a three-dropper rig that covers about 5 feet of the total water column. With 40-pound Trik Fish leader material, tie three equal dropper loops spaced about 18 inches apart and leave the dropper standing off a good 5 inches off the main line to extend the hook out from the leader. This is needed to hold the bait out and away from the leader line and prevents fouling of the bait into the main leader line. Connect a 150-pound Spro barrel swivel on one end and tie a simple overhand knot on the other end for the bank sinker.

Bank sinkers of 8 to 20 ounces may be needed in the offshore currents, so be sure to bring an array of sizes as you have to be holding bottom hard to fish effectively. On the droppers, loop on size 3/0 to 5/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hooks or 2/0 to 3/0 Mustad #92641 Baitholder hooks.

Offshore sea bassing can be fast and furious with tripleheaders coming over the rails on each drop. Remember to properly vent any sea bass you throw back as the depths will most times pop out the air bladders on the way up.


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