White Seabass (Atractoscion nobilis)


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.

Identification

The 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.

Size/Age

The average weight of a 28-inch fish is 7.5 pounds. The all-tackle record is 83 pounds, 3 ounces. White seabass generally live for 5 years.

Life history

Spawning occurs in the spring and the summer. White seabass are schooling fish and are present in California waters all year long. They are especially popular in the spring and also in the winter, when they converge on spawning squid.

Food and feeding habits

White seabass feed on anchovies, pilchards, herring, and other fish, as well as on crustaceans and squid.

Other Names

Catalina salmon, white corvina, corvina blanca, white weakfish, weakfish, king croaker; French: acoupa blanc; Spanish: corvinata bronzeada.

Distribution

White seabass inhabit the eastern Pacific, mainly between San Francisco, California, and Baja California, Mexico, and in the northern Gulf of California. They are found as far north as southern Alaska and as far south as Chile.

Habitat

Preferring deep, rocky environments, white seabass usually hold near kelp beds in depths of 12 to 25 fathoms. They are sometimes found in shallow surf or deeper waters. Juveniles inhabit shallow nearshore areas, bays, and estuaries.
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