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Fishing Lines: Sea bass crazy

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By Capt. Dennis Voyles

My very favorite fish in the frying pan is the black sea bass, and the time to catch them is now. This is the only time of the year that the big males are within reach of my skiff, the spawning season.

The males have a distinctive "hump" just behind their head and their underside has more white coloration, to attract the attention of the females I imagine. Attracting a mate in their world must work up quite an appetite because they feed with reckless abandon during their seasonal ritual.

Feeding becomes so crazy that often you can have one sea bass on the hook, another holding onto your sinker and six or eight chasing the others. If the one hooked gets off, it is immediately replaced by one of the onlookers. Now that is some fun fishing!

The legal limit of sea bass is way too generous and will need to be addressed someday by our lawmakers. And the minimum size is just 10 inches in the Gulf (12 in the Atlantic) and that will need to go up someday to protect the fishery too.

My favorite recipe for sea bass goes like this: Mix half and half mustard and sour cream. Dip the fish in the mix, roll in cracker crumbs and set them on waxed paper. Put them in the freezer until firm, but not frozen. Carefully place the fillets into hot grease.

Man, I am telling you this stuff is good! Serve with home-made cinnamon pickles and swamp cabbage. Whew-ee, now them is some good viddles!

Trout season remains closed for the remainder of February. No changes in size or bag limits this year to my knowledge.

Speaking of changes, the grouper industry has some very dramatic changes coming up. The changes for next year include a three month closed season (recreational) and a major reduction in bag limits. If the bill passes, the grouper limit will go from five to three, only one of which may be a gag, and only one may be a red. Which in essence means the limit in our area is two, since we very seldom find scamp grouper in our local waters.

I do not know when the law will change but it will certainly have an effect on the bookings of our offshore guides. I certainly hope that our officials know what they are doing.

The ramp on the inside is still under construction so we are down to just one ramp, so when you come to launch, bring an extra dose of patience.

That's all for this week, please check your safety equipment before heading out.