- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
The weakfish is a streamlined fish with a shape similar to seatrout and freshwater trout, even though it technically is a member of the drum family (as are seatrout). It has a dark olive to greenish-blue coloration on its back with its sides covered in shades of pale blue, purple, lavender, gold and copper. From the varied colors on the sides, the weakfish turns to a silvery white underneath. Like the spotted seatrout, the top of the weakfish is covered in black spots, which may form into a pattern of wavy diagonal lines. The lower jaw of the weakfish extends past the upper jaw, which has one or two visible canine teeth. Its mouth is yellow on the inside and sports a tongue with a black margin on the tip. The weakfish spot pattern distinguishes it from the spotted seatrout, because the weakfish's spots do not appear on the tail or second dorsal fins.
Although located mainly in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Florida, the weakfish are also seen, upon occasion, as far north as Nova Scotia. They are more abundant from North Carolina to Florida in colder months and Delaware to New York as temperatures rise. This led to one of its common names, summer trout, because anglers in the populated Northeast would only catch them during the summer months.
Found in loose schools, primarily inshore, weakfish prefer sandy or grassy bottoms along the surf and in bays, estuaries, inlets and lagoons. In colder months, weakfish may move offshore to depths up to 300 feet. But overall, weakfish tend to move wherever their ideal temperature range and habitat meet.
Spawning for weakfish occurs inshore in warmer estuarine areas from May to October. Their eggs drift along the surface of the water, are fertilized externally, and usually hatch within two days. There is no parental supervision after hatching.
Weakfish are omnivorous and feed on shrimp and other crustaceans, crabs, mollusks and small baitfish. Due to their diverse diet, weakfish can adapt to the available food conditions and will forage at different water levels, going deep if necessary.
Since they have such a varied diet, weakfish can be fished for in a number of different ways. Using a variety of natural baits while still fishing or drifting is popular. The best bait tends to be live shrimp, but they will also take other live baitfish and strips of cut bait. Chumming with grass shrimp or ground fish mixture can improve bait-fishing odds.
Jigging while drifting or anchored is also common. The lures of choice in jigging include grubs and metal and bucktail jigs. Trolling with spoons and plugs has also proved to be an effective method. While weakfish are in shallow water such as estuaries, casting with steamer flies or plugs is common.
Although they are not overly big, catching a weakfish is considered to be challenging. They are not really surface brawlers but tend to have varied battling techniques from long runs to short unpredictable dashes. Weakfish have also been known to circle the boat or head straight towards the angler, which necessitates a rapid intake of slack line to keep the fish hooked.
- The name weakfish derives from the fish's tender mouth that allows hooks to be easily ripped away from it.
- The white meat of the weakfish is considered to be very delicious and is fished commercially as well as for sport.