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Saltwater Fish - Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass

Centropristis striata

AKA:  Black will, sea bass

Distinguishing Markings:

Typically large-mouthed, bottom dwellers that are bluish black in color with light spots that form longitudinal stripes. Their scales are relatively large and their dorsal fin is continuous, but notched with 10 slender spines.



Reported to grow to a maximum of 25 inches long



Range from Maine to the Florida Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico.



Adult black sea bass are considered to be a temperate reef fish.  They are typically bottom dwelling marine fishes and are most often found on rocky bottoms near reefs, wrecks, oyster bars, pilings, or jetties.  Although not schooling fish, they can be found in large aggregations around structure or during inshore-offshore migrations.  Adults migrate inshore and northward as water temperatures increase in the spring.  They return to coastal and ocean waters, moving southward and offshore in the fall as water temperatures drop.


Food Preference:

They are predators, relying on their large mouths and swift movements to capture their prey, typically crabs, mussels, razor clams, and fishes.



Spawning in the mid-Atlantic region takes place in deeper waters off the continental shelf from June through October with a peak in July and August off the coast of Virginia.  Most black sea bass are hermaphrodites having female and male reproductive structures and the ability to change sex.  Female black sea bass usually mature by ages 2-5 and produce approximately 280,000 pelagic eggs which are buoyant and contain a single oil globule.


Fishing Tips:

Black sea bass are regarded as a good-eating, flavorful fish.  Bottom fishing from boats near structure (rocks, wrecks, and reefs) using squid and other natural baits works best.


See Also: