Fisheries History

Image of identifying features of the three bass species: kelp (calico) bass, barred (sand) bass, and soptted (bay) bass

Some of the most popular species among southern California recreational anglers are in the genus Paralabrax. There are currently ten species in this genus known worldwide, but primarily only three of these species are found in coastal waters of southern California: kelp (calico) bass (A), barred sand bass (B), and spotted sand (bay) bass (C) (Paralabrax clathratus, P. nebulifer, and P. maculatofasciatus, respectively). Two of these three bass species (kelp bass and barred sand bass) consistently rank among the top recreational fisheries by landings. Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel (CPFV) logbook data for all targeted fishes in California from 1936-2008 indicate that kelp bass (P. clathratus) ranked 1st in number of fish kept for a single species (excluding Pacific mackerel and unidentified rockfishes), with approximately 20.6 million fish landed during the 73-year period. Barred sand bass (P. nebulifer) ranked 4th overall with 12.7 million landed. However, both species were often pooled into a “rock bass” category prior to the mid-1970s, which accounts for an additional 11.9 million fish. Thus, barred sand bass and kelp bass could represent the top two species (excluding Pacific mackerel) landed on CPFVs throughout the recorded history of recreational fishing in California.