How to Catch Barred Sand Bass in Southern California

Let’s learn how to catch barred sand bass! Barred sand bass will hover over flat, sandy-bottomed during the spawning season. The Paralabrax nebulifer species are a staple game fish of the local sportfishing fleet of southern California.

If you are bass fishing in San Onofre, Huntington flats, or San Diego, you will encounter the barred sand bass as they are common in this water column. 

barred sand bass how to catch
Staple of Southern California’s local sport fishing fleet. The barred sand bass. Source: J.D. Wilson

Barred Sand Bass Rig Guide

Barred Sand Bass Rods

Bass fishing rods should be slightly stiff to be able to pry the bass out of the weeds or a structure. If you want to fish for sand bass in southern California, extensive gears are not required.

One of the best things about sand bass is that it is available to almost everyone, regardless of whatever gear you employ.

You can definitely enjoy and catch sand bass and other gamefish with a six and a half foot graphite-composite rod. It makes for an all-around stick best for inshore fishing. Look for one in the 12-30 pound line range.

Additionally, if you are using anchovies to lobby sand bass, fishing with a seven-foot fiberglass rod will be better. The fiberglass rods are slower and whippier. Hence they are not suitable for fishing with brown baits as you would need a shorter stick with these baits. 

Barred Sand Bass Reels

These fish don’t require any special reel. A lot of guys out here in SoCal will use a low-profile baitcaster, but if you prefer a spinning reel, then by all means go ahead and use it. For a spinning feel, something in the 3000-4000 would be more than enough.

Just make sure you pick up some of the best fishing line for spinning reels like a nice braid backing and your choice of top shot. If you’re using a graphite rod and braid, try a mono top shot to give yourself a little stretch to prevent missed hookups.

Baits and Lures

Hooking a big sand bass is a must before landing it. Brown baits and live squid, if you can get a hold of them, offer the best chance for the “hook up.” Brown baits are near the mouths of bays and harbors, around rocky points, in kelp beds or their shoreside and areas with food and shelter to small fish.

Sometimes a bait boat may have a mixture of three baits (queenfish, croaker, and anchovy). Some of the best barred sand bass lures are plastic lures. They can be used in fishing for sand bass, depending on the water and other fishing conditions. 

How To Catch Barred Sand Bass

Light freshwater-class bait-casting tackle is ideal for maximizing the sport. The light tackle makes catching a sand bass entertaining for anglers and even for children in Southern California.

In catching a fish, including the sand bass, offering them a delectable meal which they can’t say no to can encourage them to bite. Putting up believable leverage for the fish will make it look more desirable.

For example, using a nice, fat, brown bait that struggles to escape entices the sand bass, making it think of the bait as an easy meal. You can make a brown bait look like it is trying to escape by running his line through an “egg” or slip sinker.

The sand bass will bite and swallow the bait. You can let him run for several yards for several seconds to offer the fish enough time to involve itself with entirely swallowing the bait.

This time, you should wait for the line to go tight before setting the hook with all the force you have on your wrist. 

Best Time to Fish for Barred Sand Bass

Sand bass is available all year round, but these species spawn during summer, and their spawning season peaks in July. You will most likely find these fish hovering in massive groups along San Diego bay, San Onofre, or Huntington flats during this time.

Fishing may be slow for more extended periods. But it can abruptly erupt in a frenzy as it is not uncommon for sand bass to begin feeding suddenly. The best fishing time for these species is when the sun sets as dawn can be an excellent time for them to start biting in earnest. 

Frequently Asked Question

What is the best lure for sand bass?

Luring a sand bass can be tricky. It will depend on factors like the time of the day you are fishing in or water temperature and other water conditions. There are many good lures for fishing this type of bass in different situations. For example, using plastic grubs in low light and cold water conditions proves to be useful. You can also use soft plastic know-tails in colder water, but be careful not to retrieve them too quickly. If the condition is hot and heavy, you can use shiny sinker dropper rigs. 

What does sand bass look like?

The fact about sand bass is that they are slender with a pointy head. Their color ranges from dark grey to greenish with dusky bars on the side, hence their name Barred sand bass. Their dorsal fin has a high, flag-like third spine, which helps you distinguish them from other related species. They have a white belly and freckled snouts. The smaller fish of this species are usually brighter compared to the faded out colors of the larger ones. 

Insider Advice

If you are fishing the southern California waters from some sand bass, they are accessible all year long. These fish species are relatively easy to catch, but you should not take them for granted.

There will be times that sand bass will become highly selective feeders. It helps you catch them if you become experimental with your fin bait, lures, fishing techniques, and strategies. 

Johanes Godoy
Fishing Editor
Johanes is a talented Editor for Cast & Spear. She's helped edit and write hundreds of articles on fishing and the outdoors. When she's not editing, she's exploring the world and documenting it on her own blog.
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