White Seabass: Fish Facts and History

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Back in the 1900s, the white seabass population was insane. Unfortunately, the commercial fleet wreaked havoc on the sardine populations. During the 1960s, the population of white sea bass collapsed. There are stories that the water would turn brown because of how many seabass were swimming around. But by the 70s, you were lucky to even catch one. Thankfully due to regulation changes, the white seabass started to make a comeback in the 80s. Now we have a pretty robust white seabass population (however, not back to the levels they once were).

65 pound white sea bass gyotaku
White seabass gyotaku of Jon’s 65lber he speared in 2022. @fishingforgyotaku did the print.

White seabass is crepuscular,  which is a fancy word for being active during dusk, twilight, and night. I do notice that during the warmer parts of the day, some of the larger ones can be seen sleeping in the kelp forest. My guess is that they are using the warmth of the sun to digest the food that they ate in the morning. 

White seabass grows quite large, some getting into the 90-plus pound range. You can find smaller schools of them commonly in the surf zone. However, I have seen some of the 40-lb range ones swimming right along the shore in about five feet of water.

Common NameWhite Seabass, White Sea Bass, Grey Ghosts
Scientific Name (Genus and Species)Atractoscion nobilis
Identifying CharacteristicsA large fish with a metallic blue to coppery topcoat with dark specks. The belly is silver, and there is a black blotch on the inner base of the pectoral.

Juveniles have three to six dark bars on their upper back and yellow fins.

LocationsLocated from Alaska to the tip of Baja. Found in kelp forests

, rocky structures and bottoms, and in the surf zone

Depth RangeUp to 375 feet deep
DietBaitfish (mackerel), squid
SizeLength: Over 5 feet

Weight: up to 100 pounds

Catch Limits

Check your local regulations

Largest RecordedOver 5 feet and 93.1 pounds.
Endangered?It was near extinct due to overfishing, but due to a reduction in net fishing has been making a comeback. Currently listed as Least Concerned, but are still way below historical levels.
Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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