Sea Bass – a great eating deepwater species
Maori name: Moeone
Bass are very similar in appearance to groper. There are a few things to look for to help you tell them apart. Bass has a noticeably larger eye. The lower jaw doesn’t protrude forward like that of the groper. The colour is also slightly different with bass being more of a brown rather than grey.
Differences between Groper and Bass
The main differences between hapuku (groper) and bass are: the lower jaw of the groper juts forward past the upper jaw. The bass also tends to be deeper in the body. Really big fish caught in deep water are more likely to be bass.
According to Arthur W. Parrott in Sea Anglers’ Fishes of New Zealand, the bass can also be distinguished from the groper by having its first dorsal fin not so high, by having the 6th spine of this fin distinctly shorter than the length of the pectoral fin, and by having a deeper body, larger eyes, and larger scales on the body.
You can find bass all around the New Zealand coastline usually in deep water over the 200m mark. The best area to catch this species seems to be off the Bay of Plenty particularly over the deepwater reefs around White Island. More on this species here.
Bass is a big fish caught in the very deep water. Only the strongest tackle and fishing gear will do to target them. Usually, 24 kg gear is used – or even heavier. Tie up the same traces with several droppers on 100 kg monofilament as you would use to target groper. On monofilament fishing line you can’t feel a strike deep beneath the boat so use tuna circle long-line type hooks unless using a heavy braided line.
The heaviest bass caught in New Zealand have weighed as much as 150 pounds (68kgs).
Bass are excellent table fish being much like groper to eat.