White sea bass, which are typically found along the California coast up to Alaska, can be one of the most challenging fish to catch. Weighing in at around 25 to 30 pounds (11.3 to 13.6 kg) with some even exceeding 60 pounds (27.2 kg), white sea bass are not a lightweight game fish and you must exert some physical strength to reel it in. There are a few special techniques that must be employed when learning how to catch white sea bass. These techniques can be applied both before and while attempting to catch the elusive fish.
1. Take note of the best seasons to catch white sea bass. Starting around March, white sea bass are abundant near Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, and other nearby islands in California. Summer is the best season for fishing for sea bass in Southern California, but it can be caught into the fall and winter months. However, most people focus on other types of game fish during the cooler months.
2. Obtain the right bait. White sea bass are very selective when it comes to what they will bite. Early spring white sea bass are typically caught with live or freshly dead squid. White sea bass caught in the summer or later months are not as picky and can be caught on almost any bait or jig.
3. Attach the line, hook, and other accessories to your fishing pole.
4. Use a white iron jig in combination with 2 live squid for your first attempt.White sea bass enjoy larger amounts of food, and the 2-squid combination is hard for them to resist. This kind of bait oftentimes attracts larger white sea bass, so make sure you are using a line that can hold at least 40 pounds (18 kg).
5. Use a medium-sized mackerel if the previous bait didn't work. Using larger bait will prevent smaller fish from attacking your bait while attracting the white sea bass. Let the mackerel swim freely, and keep a close eye on it. Once the white sea bass is hooked, start reeling it in.
6. Let your iron jig or live bait go deep into the water if the previous 2 steps didn't work. This technique works best when attempting to fish for white sea bass during the spring and early summer months. You want to get the attention of the barracuda, which are often followed by the white sea bass. Mackerel works well in this situation because the barracuda will typically not try to feed on it. If a recently-caught white sea bass happens to swim by, this can be an opportunity to catch it in its weakened state.
- Although summer white sea bass are known be caught on nearly any bait or jig, you are more likely to get a bite with large sardines, mackerel, or live squid.
- When hooking live bait, it is ideal to hook it in the nose sideways (it will swim slightly sideways), in the collar area (it will swim sideways and slightly downward), or in the belly area (it will swim downward and away from the boat). If you are unsure of how you want the bait to swim, hook it in the nose sideways as this will allow the bait to last longer.
- There are typically strict limits enforced on the number of white sea bass you can catch. Check with your state's fish and wildlife department to determine what the number is.
- White sea bass can be very difficult to catch and land. They have very soft mouths and sharp gill plates, both of which can fray your fishing line. They can also lead you into areas with kelp or reefs and break your line.