February 22, 2018

Alaska Sea Otter Sound Lodge Jims black bass tips

Jim’s Black Bass Tips

Tips & Tackle For Black Bass Fishing
For some time now, Tim & I have been discussing ways to allow guests to broaden their Sea Otter Sound Lodge fishing experience. Tim & Murtie have upgraded to new fishing equipment and we have introduced the Sea Otter Sound Lodge Guidebook to assist both newcomers and experienced fishermen to prepare for and enjoy their time here at the Lodge. Now we are adding something else: light tackle for rockfish.

We have noticed that sometimes guests want to fish for the various rockfish, especially the black rockfish, either because other fishing is slow, they want to add more “white meat” to their take-home or just because they have seen and heard other guests tell what great fun it is. We also know that our standard salmon tackle is not the best or easiest to use for this type of fishing: the long rod and heavier line are just not suited to the close-quarters, fast paced blackie action that is often happening.

The rods and reels are spinning tackle and the baits are jigging lures. We have included some tackle that is for the more experienced fisherman who are more used to handling ultra light equipment, and some tackle that is a little more forgiving for those who are newer to the use of spinning gear.

The Reels
The reels are “open face” or spinning reels. They all have a few features in common and are used similarly.

The baile should be opened and closed by hand at all times. Closing by hand, rather than just running the crank, should ensure a positive line seating in the guide.

The anti-reverse should be engaged at all times, that is, you should not be able to turn the crank both ways. This will not only keep the drag ready, but also prevent “knuckle busting” when a fish strikes.
Set the drag just like you set the drag for salmon rigs: you should be able to pull the line off the reel relatively easily. This is especially important with the ultra light tackle. The drag can always be tightened if needed while playing a fish, but a too tight drag often results in lost fish and broken tackle.

Line provided is either monofilament on the ultra lights, or small diameter braided line on the medium rods. Standard knots, Palomar or Improved Clinch, can be used with either.

The Rods
The rods are standard 2-piece, and are either 6 or 7 feet long. This length should allow much more ease of movement and “up front” storage ability than the salmon rods have. Before using the light tackle, though, do stow your salmon gear; the vertical storage is preferred.

The Baits
Don’t use herring or cut bait for the rockfish, use the available lures. Jigging type spoons are provided, as are either ½ oz. Crippled Herring lures, 1oz. KT lures, or 2 to 3 inch Buzz bombs. Tie on a 12-15 inch mono leader with a swivel attached so that it can be snapped to the terminal tackle on your rod. The 12-15 inches should be from the bottom of your hook to the top of the swivel. This length allows for better action of the lure when jigging.

The Fishing
Look for rockfish either at the edge of kelp beds or on top of underwater rock pinnacles, almost always less than 50 feet down, and often on the surface feeding. The surface feeders are obvious, but you will have to employ the fish finders (sounder) to search for those on top of pinnacles. Make sure the ‘Fish ID’ on the sounder is turned off so kelp will not be mistaken for fish. Then watch for a “stack” on top of, or beside the kelp or rocks.

For surface feeding fish, just get the boat within 30-50 feet of the school, then cast to them. Immediately close the baile and allow the lure to sink. If not struck within about 5 seconds, begin to retrieve. Try holding the rod still and up about 45 degrees. Crank about 3-4 times at a moderate speed, then allowing a 3-5 second sink, repeat.

For the deeper fish, drop the lure straight over the side to them. Guard the baile and close it immediately if any contact or slowing is felt before bottom is reached. Retrieve with a series of vertical jigs: a few jigs at a given depth, then crank up 3-4 times and repeat. Make the jig with the rod held level or slightly low, raise the tip about 2-3 feet then sharply drop it. The bite will often occur during the drop.

Landing the fish can be done by grasping the leader and hoisting aboard, with the net, or if keeping the fish, gaff. Please do not throw a gaffed fish back in the water because the fish will most likely die.

A Few Notes
This can be a catch and release activity. Don’t feel compelled to “keep ‘em because we caught ‘em”. Normally, keep only the black rockfish. Consider de-barbing your hooks to allow easier extraction. This can be done by using your needle nose pliers on the boat and bending down the barb.

Remember the sharp spines on the fins and gill covers of the rockfish; protect your hands and equipment.

These rods and reels are not intended for salmon. Don’t cast to surface fish that are not actively splashing or jig in open water where you don’t see bottom fish on the fish finder.

If you do hook up a large fish (one large enough that a slight tightening of the drag does not slow it down), then just cut the line. Don’t risk damaging or losing the rod and reel.

In the summer of 2011, Sea Otter Sound Lodge will be introducing the Black Bass Tournament. Hopefully, the tips you have learned here, will put you ‘in the money’! Please tell us how you feel about this Sea Otter Sound Lodge experience.

Jim Beggerly, Texas fishing guide and sometimes Alaska fisherman.