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The Best Baits for Sea Bass Fishing

Choosing the best sea bass bait is essential for success in order to catch fish. The key is matching the local fish diet to the presentation you are using for your fishing. Both live and dead baits will due the trick and there are usually many local bait and tackle shops with the supplies and knowledge you need no matter where you decide to fish. Here we break down the most popular baits to use when fishing for sea bass.



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What’s the best bait for sea bass?

If you are wondering which baits are the best for catching sea bass, there are a few that always seem to work throughout the seasons.  Here are the most recommended baits when fishing for black sea bass.


Squid Strips

Squid is one of the most widely used fishing baits among all ocean fishermen. Sea Bass love to eat squid, so consider this bait a must have on any wreck fishing trip.  You can buy squid fresh or frozen at saltwater bait shops near the beach towns and coastal waterways. Use whole squid, or cut them up into strips.  Fish the strips on plain hooks or with colored bucktail jigs.


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Clams are a top choice bait with sea bass enthusiasts. You can buy clams or there is fun in digging for clams on your own. There is a technique to using clam the right way and some time they are difficult to keep on your hook.  The most popular way to fish with clams is using a top and bottom sea bass rig and heavy sinker to get your bait to the bottom and in front of hungry fish wanting to eat.  Try fresh or frozen clams and see which works best for you.


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Green Crabs

What would the ocean be without crabs and sea bass fishing would be incomplete without using crabs for bait.  One of the most popular crabs for bottom fishing bait is the small but effective green crab.  They are small and easy to hook, then frop them to the bottom and hold on.  Sea bass love to eat these little critters.  Most local bait shops carry them throughout the fishing season.  They are also quite effective on Tautog



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Cut Bait

Cut bait is exactly as it sounds.  Using larger whole fish like bluefish, mackerel, sardines and others, you cut pieces or strips off the fish and use them for fishing bait.  These long cut strips of bait dangle off your hook and flash in the water enticing bottom fish like sea bass to strike.  Sometimes I use a piece of cut bait on the top hook and another type like clam at the bottom of my rigs.



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Minnow Bait

Same minnows we use for flounder fishing are great for catching sea bass on the reefs and wrecks up and down the coastal areas.  You can buy minnows from the local bait shops or if you live near creeks and back bay areas, you can trap minnows yourself.

minnow bait hooked through the lip




Shrimp are one of the most popular baits to use when fishing in shore or from the beach, bridges, wrecks and other coastal areas.  Using dead, frozen and live shrimp are common among fishermen.  There are different methods to how you hook shrimp and present to the fish whether it is sea bass, flounder, tog and other near shore species. 



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Sand Fleas

Sand fleas are small, crablike creatures that dig into the sand and can be seen throughout the beaches.  They are also called mole crabs.  You can buy them in a bait shop or have fun catching them on your own.  Best way to catch these little critters is using a rake to dig them out of the sand and store them in a bucket with wet sand. Just don’t fill the bucket with water.  Sea bass, tautog and other inshore species love to eat these beach critters for lunch.


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Menhaden, also know as bunker fish in some parts, are flat, have soft flesh, and a deeply forked tail. These fish are popular baits for inshore fishing and are used live, dead (fresh) and frozen. Most fisherman, especially those going for Striped bass, prefer fresh dead bunker which was never frozen.  If you cut them into small chunks they are great for wreck and bottom fishing.


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Sea bass are a lot of fun to catch.  You can use light tackle and they put up a nice fight, especially if you have to reel them up from 50 plus feet deep.  Make sure you check your local rules and regulations for the season and catch limits.


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