BLACK SEA BASS (Centropristis striata) OTHER NAMES: Sea Bass, Black Bass, Blackfish, Rockfish, Talywag
RANGE: A temperate fish, it is most common off Central and North Florida. Straggles to South Florida, but is absent from the Bahamas.
HABITAT: Widely at home, both offshore and inshore. Likes rocky areas, wrecks, channels with hard bottom, jetties, deep holes in grass flats. Larger fish now stay mostly well offshore.
DESCRIPTION: Color is generally black or charcoal, with blue highlights and tiny white spots or stripes on dorsal fin. Indistinct pattern sometimes present on sides, especially in small fish. In adults, the dorsal, anal and caudal fins may have feathery edges, and large males show a distinctive hump forward of the dorsal.
SIZE: Recorded to at least 8 pounds, but individuals weighing more than one pound are now rather uncommon, and a 3- or 4-pounder is a rare giant. World record 9 pounds, 8 ounces; Florida record 5 pounds, 1 ounce.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent. The flesh is mild and white but, sadly, most Sea Bass caught these days are too small to be worthwhile. The occasional outsize specimen should be filleted and skinned, but take care when doing so, because gill covers are sharp and so are the spines.
GAME QUALITIES: A hard and willing striker on both natural baits and a variety of artificial lures. Pulls hard for its size, but is too often caught on too heavy tackle.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning and baitcasting tackle are the best choices. Sea Bass greedily hit live or dead shrimp and all sorts of cut baits, along with live small baitfish and artificial jigs and underwater plugs. They seem to be always hungry and willing to strike nearly anything they can grab. Grouper Combo Guide
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.