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XI 

THE GIANT BASS
(Stereopolepis gigas)

 
JEWFISH, 450 POUNDS
FLORIDA
 

THE giant bass is a monster fish of the Pacific Ocean and is found along the edge of the forests of kelp that fringe the rocky coasts of the islands of southern California from the Coronados to the Farallones.

This fish is often confounded with the jewfish (ponnicrops guttatus) but is in reality quite a different fish.

The jewfish frequents warmer water than that of the Channel Islands and is to be found along the coast of Lower California as well as in the waters of southern Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico. It is more like a giant grouper than a bass, for it is a skin fish with small scales underneath the skin and has rounded fins and a rounded tail, whereas the giant bass resembles the fresh water small-mouthed bass and is covered with scales, is mottled on the belly, and has square fins and tail.

The giant bass grows to a great size. It is said that one was landed by a hand-line in the gulf of California that weighed 720 pounds.

These fish have been taken at Catalina Island for some years on regulation tuna tackle, the record fish weighing 493 pounds.

Although the giant bass cannot rightly be classed as a game fish it gives the beginner a strenuous sensation and affords good training for more exciting sport with the rod.

A proper spot having been selected near the edge of the kelp, the boat is anchored and the anchor-rope buoyed so that it may be thrown overboard when a fish is hooked. This is really not necessary unless the fish is of great size. I took, from an anchored boat, three giant bass last season that would average over 250 pounds, in fifty minutes.


RECORD GIANT BASS
493 pounds.
MR. N. A. HOWARD
 

Although the giant bass has been known to take a trolling bait he is a bottom feeder, so the hook is preferably baited with the head of an albacore, for rock cod and other small fish that feed on the bottom soon destroy a soft bait. It is also the custom to give a fish sufficient line to allow the bait to be well swallowed before striking.

The giant bass has great strength but little staying power. It soon comes to the surface belly up if you fight it hard, but if you toy with it, it will tow your boat about and take hours to land.

It is claimed that a male fish of this variety is seldom hooked and that the smallest fish ever taken weighed seventeen pounds.

These fish are good food and find a ready sale in the market.

The jewfish are also well thought of as food and it is said that they received their vulgar name for the reason that they will take anything.

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