Published On: Fri, Nov 7th, 2014

Bass – Sea Bass and Bass Groper – Polyprion americanus

Bass caught over the Ranfurly Bank, New Zealand (image).

Russel Clarke and Kim Delaney with a huge bass weighing 55kg caught fishing over the Ranfurly Bank, a seamount some 18 miles northeast of East Cape, New Zealand’s North Island. Amazingly this species can grow to twice this weight.

Sea Bass – a great eating deepwater species 

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).

Ranfurly bank deepsea bass (image).

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.

Bass are excellent table fish being much like groper to eat.

About the Author

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Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.