Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Going out on a party boat. What will we catch? What kind of tackle will I need?
Going out on a party boat. What will we catch? What kind of tackle will I need?

“Going out on a party boat. What will we catch? What kind of tackle will I
need? ”

Party boat fishing out of Ocean City pretty much means going fishing for sea
bass this time of year. You may catch a tautog or flounder, but the
targeted species is usually sea bass. Sea bass bite in earnest from June
until November. The colder months of January through early May are saved
for targeting tautog. Mid to late summer and early fall find flounder,
croaker, and sometimes sea trout.

So let’s talk about sea bass! Black sea bass can be found from Cape Cod to
Northern Florida, with the largest abundance of them occurring between the
Capes of New Jersey and North Carolina. So yes, we’re right in the middle
of them!!!

The largest black sea bass caught in Maryland weighed in at 8 pounds,
however, most mature sea bass do not weigh much more than a pound and a
half. A 12-inch legal sized sea bass weighs around a pound, while an 18 to
20-inch bass goes around 3 pounds. We often see citation fish of
exceptional size go 4 and 5 pounds taken on local party boats.

Black sea bass are hermaphroditic! Sea bass are born female and after
producing eggs, switch and become males! Larger blue-headed sea bass are
almost always males. Sea bass spend the winter at depths from 240 to 600
feet. Some have been found at depths of over 1000 feet offshore of North
Carolina! That’s why in the colder months some party boats go way offshore
and catch sea bass in these very deep waters. I read one article where the
anglers ran out of line by the time they finally got close to the bottom
when fishing in 300 plus feet!

Sea bass migrate inshore in the spring and fall. That’s when anglers find
them on “open bottom” when drifting. The bass are on the move! In the
summer months, the black sea bass hang around rocky bottom, ship wrecks,
fish havens, artificial reef sites and any obstructions on the bottom in
depths less than 120 feet. That’s why in the heat of the summer; you really
need to be on some structure to catch nice sea bass!

Sea bass spawn from February to early summer. The eggs float and hatch a few
days later. The larvae drift into bays and inlets where the baby sea bass
feed on little crabs and mussels. That’s why we find so many little black
sea bass in our bay and inlet. They are rarely of keeper size, but there are
hundreds of them in certain places near docks, pilings, mussel beds, rocks
and bridges. Kids have fun catching and releasing the little black sea bass.

“OK, I’m going out on a party boat. What should I take? What kind of rod and
reel do I need?”

Sea bass are easy to catch and do not require any extravagant tackle. The
main thing is this. You need to have a rod and reel that will handle a 5 to
8 ounce sinker without bending in two just to handle the sinker weight.
Another words, you need a medium-heavy spinning or conventional type outfit
spun with 15 to 20 pound test monofilament or 30 to 40 pound test Spectra
line (Power-Pro, Fire Line, or Sufix Braid). A 6 to 7 foot rod is best. 8
foot is really the maximum length I would take out on a party boat. If your
rod and reel is not heavy-duty enough, simply rent one on the boat. Keep in
mind, most party boats rent the conventional type of rod and reel. If you
are unfamiliar with it, get the mate to show you how it works.

If you plan to fish often, the Spectra lines are the best because the sinker
goes to the bottom faster and you can feel the bites better. Tie on a couple
feet of 30 or 40-pound test leader into the braided line and simply tie in
two dropper loops two or three inches in length and slip in two loose Kayle
hooks in the #1/0 to #4/0 size range. If you don’t know how to do any of
this let the mate tie on your rigs for you.

The nice part about fishing on a party boat is that you can walk on with
virtually nothing except a cooler with ice for your fish and some food, and
the mate and captain will fix you up! (For a fee of course.) But that’s
better than trying to rig up something that’s not appropriate.

Although they work fine, wire top and bottom rigs tangle up and drive mates
and captains crazy. Rigs with long leaders that you can get away with when
fishing on your own boat get tangled up with your neighbor more easily than
rigs with shorter leaders.

OK. The boat finally gets to the fishing grounds. The first thing to do is
bait up with squid or clam. If there’s pieces of clam, hook on the white
hard part first, then pierce it through two or three more times placing the
dark yucky stuff on the point of the hook. Sea bass like this the best! If
there’s squid cut up, just put some on the hook. Bigger baits usually catch
the bigger bass.

When the boat stops, get to the bottom as fast as you can. The best,
fastest action usually happens right away. If there’s 50 people on the boat
and 200 fish down there, he who gets to the bottom and catches a couple, and
gets back down quick, is more likely to catch more before the action slows
and the captain has to move again.

Go to the bottom until you feel the sinker hit the bottom. Then reel in any
slack. When you feel the bite, set the hook. Wait and a second or two not
letting any slack in your line and you may get a second bass on the other
hook. Then reel up fast before the fish gets in a snag.

If your bait gets washed up and has been on the hook for a long time, change
it. If your squid strip is puny because the bass has nibbled it away to just
a small piece, put a larger piece on.

Some anglers like to add a little three or four-inch swimming minnow or
mullet grub just above the hook for extra attraction. Chartreuse or white
are good colors. They can be plain rubber or the Berkley or Fishbite
scented ones. Never hurts!

“How do I catch a tautog?”

Put on a piece of clam, sand flea, or green crab with a slightly smaller
hook. Generally you need to be in a decent amount of structure to catch
one. If they are there, you’ll catch one along with the sea bass. Ask the
Captain, if you are likely to catch one or not. He’ll know if he is in
tautog territory or not!

Some party boats go out for a full day, usually in the 7 A.M. to 3 P.M.
range. Others go for a half- day, such as 8 A.M. to Noon and 1 P.M. to 4
P.M. or so. Half-day boats don’t go out as far and offer less fishing time.
(It still takes a while to get there!) If you are seriously after fish for
the table and maybe the freezer, go on a full day boat. If you just want to
wet your feet, see what the ocean is all about, or taking young children or
a girlfriend or wife that has never been out on the water before, the half
day is the one for you.

Get your info and call in advance to make a reservation if the boat requires
it. All the phone numbers, hours, and location of party boats are right
here within the pages of the Coastal Fisherman!

Good fishing….

Need bait and tackle? Come see us at Oyster Bay Tackle, Ocean City, Maryland (410-524-3433) or Fenwick Tackle, Fenwick Island, Delaware (302-539-7766), OR Shop Online!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 01:04