Inshore Black Sea Bass BSB Rock Bass

Inshore Crab Bait

I started out by setting some crab traps inshore a few days before and now I was back checking them. The sand fleas had eaten every piece of meat off the chicken bones so now I had no crabs and no bait. This is where I realize it doesn’t matter how much crab bait you put in the trap it is only good for a couple of days at the most. Not to be discouraged with crabs I made my way up river to look for shrimp. I threw the cast net out in a couple spots that are known good shrimp spots; nothing but a small crab. Ok, I thought I’ll just change species all together and try some fishing spots I know of; I was skunked again.

Inshore at Sheepshead Bridge

Now I’m thinking to myself that it is getting a little warm out here and I want to find somewhere to cool off inshore. The only place I can think of is this little Sheepshead bridge I know of so I head there. Once I set up my anchor and get everything situated the shade is feeling a lot nicer than the Sun was. I start dropping some rigs down to the bottom hoping I will catch a nice Sheepshead like the big fat one I had just seen feeding on barnacles. I tried but after a good 30 minutes of effort still no Sheepshead. Now I’m starting to get frustrated, but just then I feel something tugging. Boom, I set the hook and bring up my prize. To my disgust it is just a Toad fish. But hold on, this is not just a Toad fish, this is BIG Toad fishing!

Giant Toad Fish Festival Inshore

I catch quite a few more of these citation Toad fish and I was actually starting to think about how I could fillet these guys and eat them. Just then I set the hook and it is something big and feisty. I’m thinking this will be the world record, then I am shocked at what I see. It is a Black Sea Bass (BSB) and a nice one at that. Well it was nice to me, at 12 inches it was pretty much an average fish. 12 inches, 1 pound is the average inshore BSB size in fact. However, this is a little nicer than most inshore BSB and this one was really about 13-14”. You know the fish rules: if there’s one then there is two fish right? I drop down again and boom, fish on! I confirm the rule is true when I pull up the twin of the first BSB.

Black Sea Bass for Dinner
Black sea bass are opportunistic bottom feeders and will hit just about anything that moves: crabs, shrimp, clams, small fish, squid, or young BSB
25 Feet Deep Inshore

Now that I am thoroughly pleased with myself in the fact that I have 2 nice BSB for dinner, I begin to analyze the fishing method and results. Why did I just pull 2 nice BSB from under Sheepshead bridge about 10 miles inshore? BSB prefer structure in 10-120 meters with high salinity near oyster reefs, pier pilings, or live-bottom. Well, 10 meters is about 30 feet so I barely meet this requirement because the tide gauge on the bridge says 25 feet. However, the other BSB requirements are all there. This particular inshore creek has a straight shot to the ocean so there is plenty of salt. The bridge has pilings encrusted with barnacles. There are also large Sheepshead under the bridge which share the near shore reefs with the BSB in the winter months.

My Conclusions About Inshore BSB Fishing

After several years of offshore BSB management and continuous improvements to near shore artificial reefs, the inshore BSB is starting to recover. I can only hope that it continues along this path and I can catch more BSB inshore next year. And if you want to catch BSB inshore find a bridge with a deep channel and fish close to the pilings just like you would for Sheepshead, only a little closer to the bottom. Use some fresh shrimp or Gulp shrimp on a Spro Bucktail jig bounced off the bottom. Black sea bass are opportunistic bottom feeders and will hit just about anything that moves, including: crabs, shrimp, clams, small fish, squid, and even young BSB. Smaller BSB move out of the coastal rivers to winter in deeper water of near shore reefs before returning inshore in the spring.