A member of the Sciaenidae family, the popular white seabass belongs to the grouping of weakﬁsh or corvina and is not a true bass or sea bass. White seabass stocks have struggled due to overﬁshing by commercial gillnets, which are now illegal in California for this species.
IdentificationThe body of the white seabass is elongate and somewhat compressed. There is a characteristic raised ridge along the middle of the belly, between the vent and the base of the pelvic ﬁns. The head is pointed and slightly ﬂattened. The mouth is large, with a row of small teeth in the roof and a projecting lower jaw.
The ﬁrst dorsal ﬁn has nine spines and the second two spines and 20 soft rays. The anal ﬁn has two spines and 10 soft rays. There are no barbels on the chin. Its coloring is bluish to gray above, with dark speckling, and becomes silver below.
The white seabass can be distinguished from its Atlantic relatives, the weakﬁsh and the spotted seatrout, by its lack of canine teeth. It is most closely related to the California corbina, but it is the only California croaker to exceed 20 pounds. It is most easily separated from other croaker by the presence of a ridge running the length of the belly.