White Seabass, despite its name, is not actually part of the Seabass family nor is it white; it actually belongs to the “Croaker” family and is the largest of the Croaker species in the Pacific Ocean. It ranges from Baja California all the way up the coast to Juneau, Alaska. White Seabass travel together in schools through the kelp beds and over deep rocky bottom and can also be found in near-shore bays and estuaries.
White Seabass range in colour from blue-grey to copper on the top side becoming silver below with dark speckles while young have several dark vertical bars on their sides. They can be distinguished from other members of the Croaker family by a raised ridge that runs along the belly. White Seabass have a mild flavour similar to halibut due to its low oil content making this meaty muscular fish great for grilling or even slow cooked on a barbeque.
White Seabass spawn from April to August over rocky reefs and have the largest eggs in the Croaker family (1.3 mm in diameter). Females reach sexual maturity at the age of four (61 cm) while some males reach maturity by the age of three (51cm). A major spawning area occurs along central Baja California and the eggs are planktonic and darkly coloured. In their first year of life, they can grow to a length of 5.7 cm and are usually found in waters from four to nine meters deep utilizing the drifting microalgae on the sandy ocean bottom for protection from predators. As they grow larger some move to protected bays where they hide in the eel grass to hunt food and have shelter. Adult White Seabass feed on Pacific mackerel, sardines, squid, pelagic red crabs and herring. They can live up to 13 years.
Rod and Reel
This fishery uses a rod, reel and lure or baited hook trailed behind a vessel at low speed to catch fish. Each fish is individually hooked and hauled aboard by hand.