When it comes to sport fishing, bass are a coveted target indeed. In the past 2 fishing seasons, the biggest Striped Bass have been being caught right here in our very own Long Island Sound. As we’re sure any dedicated angler knows, last year’s 81.88 lb world-record setting Striped Bass was caught in the Sound by Greg Myerson off the coast of Westbrook. Over the past two weeks, two more exceptionally large bass have been caught in the same waters, one weighing in at 74.75lbs, and one weighing in at 74 lbs even. These two giants were reeled in by Blaine Anderson and Steve Franco, respectively.
Just why is it that these large bass have all been caught in so close of an area? Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret – the biggest Stripers are almost always found together due to the fact that they’ll go wherever the food source is most abundant. When it comes to the dining preferences of the Striped Bass, nothing gets their lips smacking quite like the Atlantic Manhaden, or Bunker, as it is often called in our region. Bunker are a smaller breed of fish, usually reaching about 12-15 inches in length and 1lb of weight at full maturity.2 Though they are native to a large section of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from the shores of Nova Scotia down to the Southeastern Florida coast, we’re currently experiencing a surplus of them in Long Island Sound and this is a part of why our local fisherman are pulling in the big ones at alarming rates. While Bunker are very popular among Striped Bass, they are also a diet staple of Bluefish, Cod, Haddock, Mackerel, Swordfish, and Tuna. Wherever you go fishing, if there are Bunker nearby, you’re unlikely to go home with empty hands.
If you want to increase your odds of hooking your own record-setting Striped Bass, then you’ll want to use Bunker as your bait, rather than simply casting in waters where you know they’ll be around. In order to get them as bait, you can stop in at most any bait and tackle shop where they will be present and available for purchase. However, if you fancy yourself the complete fisherman, then you can catch them for yourself. Keep in mind though that Bunker are strain feeders who survive on plankton, so they will seldom if ever bite a hook. If you want to catch your own Bunker, you’ll have to head down to coastal estuary areas and catch them by net.2
Once you’ve caught the bunker, you can either use them alive and whole or chopped up as bait. If you’re going to chop them, you can cut the fish into rectangular pieces and use just about any part except for the tail. Don’t discard the head though, as that part is the most popular among the largest bass.1 Your other option is to use the Bunker as bait while it is still living. The most common and effective method for doing this is to insert a circle hook under the dorsal fin1 and then lowering the fish back into the water and letting it swim around until it catches the eye of a hungry Striper and you feel that unmistakable pull on your line.
If fishing with live bait isn’t your style or if marine quasi-cannibalism makes you a tad uncomfortable, you’re not out of luck. Several large bass are caught every year through the use of small lures called grubs. For additional information grubs and what they can do for you, please see the guide to bass fishing with grubs on the Bass Resource website.
Now that we’ve given you some advice on how to catch the largest Striped Bass, we’re going to switch gears a bit and provide you with a recipe for another kind of Bass – the Chilean Sea Bass. The delicious and healthy Chilean Sea Bass, which is a fish with high levels of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, provides fans of seafood with the perfect combination of mild flavor and exotic allure. With a flaky, almost chunky (in a good way) texture and a refined, delicate flavor, the Chilean Sea Bass is kept tender by its natural oils, even when overcooked.3
Easy Baked Chilean Sea Bass
The following Chilean Sea Bass recipe is one that is quick and easy to make and is a great gateway dish for any aspiring kid chefs who you may have around the house. Follow the simple and easy directions below and a delicious, nutritious seafood dinner will be your reward. Here are the supplies that you’ll need:
- Olive Oil
- Four 6 ounce Chilean Sea Bass Fillets
- A roasting pan
- Salt and Pepper
- Any Cajun, Creole, or any otherwise zesty spice coating you happen to prefer
Once you have your supplies together, here’s what you have to do:
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
- Oil your roasting pan with olive oil
- Put your fillets into the pan and coat with spices
- Turn over the fillets and coat the other side
- Put into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes
- Remove and serve as is or topped with any spicy sauce or seasoning of choice (Salsa is highly recommended)3
Please visit Food.com for more delicious Chilean Sea Bass recipes and other bass recipes.
1. Alley, Dick
How to Land the Big Stripers
The Hour Online, June 7, 2012
2. Bunker Bait for Striped Bass Fishing
3. Rattray, Diana
Easy Baked Chilean Sea Bass