Fishing for sea bass

Zeebaars aan de Westerschelde

Zeeland is the place where fishing for me (Joep Steijns) all started. First in the Zeeland ditches together with friends fishing for eel. Just with a dropshot lead and freshly stung worm.
Not until much older age (when fishing had long since receded into the background)
While cycling on the dyke along the Westerschelde, I saw an older man banking a large,
silvery fish. When I asked him what kind of fish that was, he replied:
"that is a sea bass my friend".
Not long after that I caught my first salty bass. Then I was hooked and now 12 years later I am still addicted.

Why always sea bass?

I've been fishing fresh water for a long time too. Honesty compels me to say that
this was actually more born out of necessity. Indeed, it was during the period when the
sea ​​bass stock completely collapsed. Sea bass suddenly became a commercially interesting fish.
And then it quickly went the way of the cod. Catches dropped dramatically and the average size kept getting smaller. It was a very tough fishing. I then took a time out from the salt. The fun was just gone.
I can therefore say that I do not know any freshwater fish with an acceleration
which is similar to a sea bass. A asp then comes somewhat close, but really has to lose out in terms of "power".
Labrax is absolutely the best "pound for pound" or fighting sport fish in the NL waters
swimming around (I'll leave out the catfish for now, I have no experience with that).
From 60 cm it becomes REAL tug-of-war and the rod goes hoop crooked. And that the
cuttings are almost within cycling distance in front of my door, it also helps that I always
back to bass fishing again.

Sea bass on the Westerschelde
My river/home water is the Westerschelde estuary. A busy estuary of the Westerschelde river with strong tidal currents and a very varied bank. In my opinion, not the easiest water to start with either. Because the shipping channel must remain at the right depth for the immense container ships that call at Antwerp, a swim that produced beautiful fish can simply be filled with channel sand by a dredger the following year. Or a completely different current flows over than was previously the case, as a result of which the bait fish has disappeared and therefore also their attacker, the sea bass. I have learned that the Western Scheldt gives and takes. Staying stuck on 1 spot doesn't work here.

Sea bass marks Westerschelde

You will have to invest a lot of time looking for places that can earn you a silver arrow. These can be wide oyster beds that are flooded
high water, old breakwaters that are completely underwater (also at low tide) as well as the old bank revetments. But I do like a challenge.
I think that is precisely why you read and hear much less about the Western Scheldt than
for example the Europoort or the Oosterschelde.
In order to be continuously successful here, you have to know the water. You have to spend a lot of time there
and be able to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

Sea Bass Equipment
My ultimate fishing is wading fishing for Westerschelde sea bass. There are, of course, the well-known
spots, park the car and fish.
I did that in the beginning, but soon started to choose my own path. By
off the paved paths. I just like being alone. That just gives a bigger feeling
of freedom.
That means in the beginning that you pay tuition in the form of lures. The sea bass on the Scheldt are most commonly found at the bottom, so you need to map them out. You can compare it to a blind man who explores the area with the aid of his guide stick. In my case, the stick is a fishing rod in combination with a jig head.

Softbaits vs Hardbaits
For my fishing there is 1 lure which is still head and shoulders above the rest
protrudes. That's Fiiish's Black Minnow.
I fish these all year round from May to November. I can really say that my
results have improved greatly since using the minnow. Due to the weedless design (the hook is hidden in the body) you also get stuck less quickly, so I fish through it more effectively
(less knots, more fish). Especially on the "dirty" swims with rock dumps and oyster beds. That's where the weedless design really comes into its own. Weedless is also Stoneless!

The sand eal imitations have become a close second. I have taken the view
that it is not so much the color of your lure, but the action, that a bass is ultimately about
draws the line. Yet I catch myself that I actually always color with white and fluorescent yellow
fish, while the other locals here like to fish with the color pink.

Hardbaits almost never get pinned to me. I mainly fish for fast-flowing swims.
There a plug loses its action very quickly. The ebb current on the Western Scheldt is really possible
be tough. The Oosterschelde is much better suited for this. If I have sea bass then one
hunting on the surface, I opt for an old-school spoon with an unchanged
catching power: the Toby spoon from Abu Garcia.

I have a soft spot for the Japanese sea bass scene. The bass fishing in the land of the rising sun is GREAT. You can see that just by the large number of brands out there
have the right to exist. Major Craft, Megabass, Tailwalk, Daiwa, Shimano, Apia, Yamaga, Palms, Gancraft, Jackall, Jackson and so on. These names all have a series of sea bass rods in their range.
The Japanese therefore have an enormous choice of high-quality sea bass material. They walk with
their products (reels and rods) are in my opinion still far ahead of Europe (in terms of design and materials).
That I let myself be influenced by this is also reflected in the material I fish with. Mine
reels are invariably from Shimano and Daiwa (3000 series) and my rods from Tailwalk and Major Craft (270 to 290 cm with a casting weight of up to 35 gr). I demolish quite a bit of material during a season, because I work a lot of hours and then I demand a lot from my gear. Then it must be good stuff. And I am willing to pay for that.
I do notice that sea bass fishing is also on the rise here and the European brands
are now playing catch-up. Fiiish needs no further explanation. The British
sub-brand HTO also releases a number of high-quality sea bass products and I can also really recommend the waterproof fishing bags of the still relatively unknown French brand HPA. I also like to search online for these types of products. A hobby within a hobby so to speak ;-)

Memorable sea bass season 2020
I will not soon forget the start of the 2020 season. This one was unbelievably good.
What was it about? The Corona outbreak, as a result of which there has been much less fishing pressure from the profession? The persistent drought, which made the Scheldt water much clearer than before? The record number of hours of sunshine in April? Or a combination of all of these? Who's to say? Questions, questions, questions ;-) At the beginning of June I could have landed an 80er and 70er in 2 short sessions in 1 weekend! Was enjoying
blown :-)
Sometimes the conditions are such that the big fish come close to the shore.
You've developed a nose for that over the years. Then you rush to the water's edge,
while others opt for a place on the couch for the heating and a good bin
As a starting sea bass fisherman you have to work for hours, learn and gain experience. If experienced
angler you can choose your moments much more. You are more likely to go for a short,
effective session

Tips for bass fishing
The sea bass fishery is for go-getters and not for one-hit wonders. Blanks are in the beginning
really the rule.
My advice for the newbies is: choose a swim where a good current runs along or over
an obstacle (breakwater, rock tip, oyster bed, pile head, etc.) and give it your full attention for about 5 sessions.
Do this first with some cheaper lures. If it does not yield the desired result
move to another spot. In the other case you have a place for your portfolio.
Sea bass is wasting lures, don't let this discourage you too quickly, it's just part of it.
Try to fish sessions in the morning and evening. These are the times where the sea bass
The most active and you have a greater chance of crocheting 1.
Personal safety always comes before a fish. Always keep an eye on your surroundings and pay attention
On shipping. Get out of the water in good time if a large container ship is about to pass. You
won't be the first to go swimming. NEVER risk your life for a fish.


Any more tips? Then check the Zeebass ABC below. A video specially made by us for
the novice bass fisherman.