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Sea Bass Angling

Catching the one of the most popular targets of inshore fishing in Japan

Chapter 13: Sea Bass Angling

In the previous chapter, I wrote about offshore fishing for dorado (mahi-mahi) in summer. This time, I want to introduce a kind of inshore fishing. One of the most popular targets for fishing off a boat on Lake Hamana is sea bass.

Characteristics of sea bass in Japan

The sea bass has strongly carnivorous behavior that makes it one of the most popular saltwater targets when fishing with a lure in Japan. It's often the target for angling at the mouths of rivers, for surf fishing, and in bays and a variety of other areas. It's also popular in the Lake Hamana area, and many anglers go after it from the shore or from boats. It's said that some of the biggest can grow to over a meter in length, but the average size for Lake Hamana is about 40 - 50 cm. Sea bass can be caught from shore, but having a boat makes it easier to approach many of the better fishing spots. When I go after sea bass, it's usually from my friend's Japanese style utility boat (wasen) named the Yuushinmaru (the boat I introduced in Chapter 7). Sea bass can be caught in the daytime, but night fishing for it is more popular. It's most frequently caught in the hours just after sunset, known as yumazume in Japanese.

Sea bass is also known as suzuki in Japanese

Tips for catching sea bass

The tackle generally used for catching sea bass from shore is a 9 - 10 ft. rod. When on a boat, I recommend a rod of about 7 ft. as they're easy to handle onboard. The other part of the tackle is usually a spinning reel, but some people use bait tackle as well. For the lure, a plug of about 10 - 20 grams is mainly used, and you can use the same tackle as used for black bass fishing.

The body shape and size of sea bass is similar to black bass, but compared to black bass - which favor still water and tend to stay near underwater structures - sea bass have a longer and thinner body and tend to prefer waters with waves and tidal currents. That's why most of the lures used for sea bass are ones designed for ease of use in currents. As for the angling method, rather than giving the lure vigorous action in the water, it's more important to use techniques like letting the lure drift in water where there are changes in current direction. Especially in the southern part of Lake Hamana, where the currents become very fast with the ebb and flow of the tides, making use of these currents is an important strategic point.

Although there is a seasonal aspect with sea bass, it can still be caught to some degree year-round. If you ever have the chance to visit Japan, this is a kind of angling that I recommend you try at least once.

The Yuushinmaru
The lures used this time
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