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NJ Fishing Regulations Overview 2017

name Season Bag Limit Size Limit Note
Sea Bass CLOSED 10 12.50 Season Opens 2017-05-23

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Black Sea Bass

(Centropristis Striatus)

Other Names: Sea Bass, Black Bass, Bass, Humpbacks, Seabass

General Information

Black sea bass are fairly stout-bodied fish, with a long dorsal fin, and large pectoral and pelvic fins. The rounded tail sometimes has a long streamer trailing out from the top edge. Each gill cover has a flat spine near the outer edge. Mature males have a fleshy dorsal hump just anterior to the dorsal fin.

The background color of the black sea bass (smokey gray, brown, or bluish black) is mottled with darker patches and light speckles. The belly is only slightly lighter than the sides. The dorsal fin is marked with whitish mottling, while all other fins have dark spots, Young sea bass are green or brown with a dark lateral stripe running from the head to the tail.

 

NJ Fishing Season

2017 Sea Bass Regulations are pending.

 

2016 Black Sea Bass Seasons and Limits
Open Season Minimum Length Possession Limit
May 23 to June 19 12.5 inches 10 fish
July 1 to Aug 31 12.5 inches 2 fish
Oct 22 to Dec 31 13 inches 15 fish

NJ Seabass Regulations History
  2008-1 2008-2 2008-3 2008-4 2008-5 2008-6 2008-7 2008-8 2008-9 2008-10 2008-11 2008-12 2009-1 2009-2 2009-3 2009-4 2009-5 2009-6 2009-7 2009-8 2009-9 2009-10 2009-11 2009-12 2010-1 2010-2 2010-3 2010-4 2010-5 2010-6 2010-7 2010-8 2010-9 2010-10 2010-11 2010-12 2011-1 2011-2 2011-3 2011-4 2011-5 2011-6 2011-7 2011-8 2011-9 2011-10 2011-11 2011-12 2012-1 2012-2 2012-3 2012-4 2012-5 2012-6 2012-7 2012-8 2012-9 2012-10 2012-11 2012-12 2013-1 2013-2 2013-3 2013-4 2013-5 2013-6 2013-7 2013-8 2013-9 2013-10 2013-11 2013-12 2014-1 2014-2 2014-3 2014-4 2014-5 2014-6 2014-7 2014-8 2014-9 2014-10 2014-11 2014-12 2015-1 2015-2 2015-3 2015-4 2015-5 2015-6 2015-7 2015-8 2015-9 2015-10 2015-11 2015-12
Bag limit 4 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6 4 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6 4 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6 4 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6 4 4 4 1 1 1 1 6 6
Min Size(inches) 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15
Season Length(wks) 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 42 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36
 

Sea Bass Sizes 

The largest black sea bass weigh up to 10 pounds. However, most adults do not exceed 1.5 pounds. A 12.5-inch fish  generally weighs in a little over 1 pound, while an 18 to 20-inch fish weighs about 3 pounds.

Current Records
 
Weight
Catch Place
Catch Date
Angler
IGFA World Record
  10 lbs. 4 oz Virginia Beach Virginia Jan 1, 2000 Alan Paschall
NJ State Record
  9 lbs. 0 oz. Voyager Party Boat Dec 12, 20015 *Steve Singler 

 *Steve was fishing with a Shimano rod and reel with 40-pound PowerPro braided line.   Clams on 3/0 hooks served as the bait.   He was bottom fishing in 180-200 feet of water when the big fish bit.   Steve's Black Sea Bass weighs 11½-ounces more than the previous NJ State Record.

 

 

Food (Bait)

The black sea bass is predominantly a bottom-feeder, It prefers small baits such as shrimp, small crabs, squid, and clam.  It is an opportunistic feeder and as such, when angling for Sea Bass the angler should seek to 'match the hatch'.  When sand eels are prevalent, small jigs such as Ava and Deadly Dick lures are extremely effective for catching sea bass.  It always pays to have some Gulp on hand as well.

 

Angling Tips

The best time to fish for Black Sea Bass is from May through summer, when they are closest to shore. Any underwater structures, such as those associated with wrecks, jetties, and piers, will attract this species. Although they can be found from near shore to depths of up to 120 feet, large males tend to be found in deeper water. In addition to bait on the bottom It will strike at plugs, jigs, and bucktails. The most commonly caught fish weigh from ½ to 2 pounds. Although a sea bass has a large mouth, use a small bait-holder hook as the fish tends to shy away from larger hooks.

Reproduction

The black sea bass has an unusual life cycle: most individuals are hermaphroditic, reproducing both as female and a male at some time in their lives. Although some fish are males from the time they reach sexual maturity, most produce eggs when they first mature. At some subsequent point the ovary tissues in these fish become non-functional, while at the same time testes commence production of sperm. The age at which individuals "switch" from female to male is variable, although most fish have done so before they are 6 years old. In heavily exploited populations in which larger, older males are selectively harvested, the resulting death of males causes females to change sex at a younger age and smaller size than would be the case in populations less depleted by fishing. The effects of reduced abundance of males and reduced average size of females on the reproductive capacity of sea bass populations is not fully understood.

Black sea bass reproduce from February to July, with the spawning season starting earliest in the southern portion of their range and progressing northward as spring passes. Off the New Jersey coast, they reproduce from May until the end of June. The eggs are buoyant, floating in the water column until they hatch 1 ½ to 5 days after fertilization. The larvae drift in bays, inlets, and offshore areas; they become bottom-dwelling when they have grown to about ½ inch in length.

Habitat

Black sea bass generally over winter at depths from 240 to more than 600 feet, with fish inhabiting deeper waters in the New Jersey-New York region than in the mid-Atlantic region to the south. Few fish occur north of Cape May (New Jersey) in the winter, although some are known to travel extensively between Nantucket Shoals and Cape Hatteras at depths to nearly 1,100 feet. In the spring, this species displays a general northward and inshore movement, expanding its range as far north as Cape Cod from May to October. During the summer, adult sea bass gather around rocky bottoms, sunken wrecks, old pilings, and wharves. At this time of year they are most abundant at depths of less than 120 feet. Young-of-the-year and yearlings tend to summer in estuaries, which are critically important nursery grounds for this species.

Handling

Like any fish, immediately placing Sea Bass in a well iced cooler will maintain the quality of the fish.  Bleeding the fish in not necessary.  The firm, white flesh of this species is a favorite of many. Bass are easy to fillet, especially when chilled, and yield a thick slice of meat.  Smaller fish are typically not filleted but rather gutted and scaled to later be cooked 'in the round'.  A top quality fillet knife is necessary as while the fish are not hard to clean, they are not very big and you don't want to waste much meat.

Cooking

Try broiling black sea bass fillets. When broiling, fold under the thin section from the tail area to allow more even cooking. Place the fish in a greased pan; sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and paprika, and dot with butter or olive oil. Broil 5 to 6 minutes on each side, depending upon thickness, until the fillets are golden-brown. Be careful not to cook too long, as the fillets will dry and become somewhat leathery.Chinese restaurants will serve delicious whole deep-fried bass as "Hunan fish."

 

 

 

Latest NJ Seabass Reports

  • 2017-01-08 Ristori Bay Head

    There were no fishing reports in miserable weather, but the northwest wind is predicted to drop to 10-15 mph (though with some higher gusts) before a switch to southwest on Monday. If it makes you feel any better about the local weather, the wind chill in Ft. Myers this morning was 32 degrees. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-31 Ristori Bay Head

    The very good offshore fishing for sea bass is being shut down with the New Year, along with the winter flounder angling that's been producing two-fish limits from the Belmar docks. The Gambler from Point Pleasant reported their last offshore wreck trip produced good fishing for big sea bass plus some porgies and bluefish. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-23 Ristori Bay Head

    The Gambler from Point Pleasant ran off 70 miles on Thursday to load up with sea bass and porgies plus a few big ling. Bill Roha of Whippany had a sea bass limit plus 35 porgies, a bluefish and a small pollock. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-22 Ristori Bay Head

    As usual, there is still good blackfishing not too far offshore and limits of jumbo sea bass on deep water wrecks -- but what's not at all usual is the abundance of large school bluefin tuna within center console range. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, has also heard about tuna action in the Mud Hole on popping plugs, while blackfishing is good in 70-to-90-foot depths (especially on whitelegger crabs) -- and winter flounder continue to hit baits cast from the docks into Shark River on incoming tide when waters are warmest. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-22 Dauntless Point Pleasant Beach

    2016-12-22 Dauntless Point Pleasant Beach

    MERRY CHRISTMAS Thursday, December 22, 2016 Mother Nature wasn't so nice to us a couple days this week. It slowed down the action on the Porgies, but we still caught some nice Seabass, Blackfish, and big Cod (as seen in the picture). More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-19 Ristori Bay Head

    They have whiteleggers on board, and it looks good for sailing at 7 a. m. Tuesday. There's also room on Dec. 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 trips. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-17 Ristori Bay Head

    The Jamaica from Brielle had another good catch of jumbo sea bass and porgies from far offshore wrecks on Wednesday. Some blues were also caught, along with a few cod up to a 10-pounder that beat out a 6-pound sea bass for the pool. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-12 Jamaica II Brielle

    and some limits on Jumbo Seabass to 6. Cod up to 14 pounds have been taking most pools. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-08 Ristori Bay Head

    Reef Rescue and the N. J. Outdoor Alliance are forming a car pool to Baltimore on Monday in order to demonstrate to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council the importance of our artificial reefs in federal waters. By far the best bet for bottom fishing has been the jumbo sea bass and porgy action on the far offshore wrecks. More of this NJ Seabass Report
  • 2016-12-04 Dauntless Point Pleasant Beach

    2016-12-04 Dauntless Point Pleasant Beach

    Good fishing rolling along Sunday, December 4, 2016 We had another week of good action with Porgies, Seabass, and Blackfish. The Porgies are Jumbo size and there are still some keeper Seabass, with Blackfish slowly picking up. More of this NJ Seabass Report