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Kelp Bass

Paralabrax clathratus

Physical Characters : The body of the kelp bass is elongate and compressed. The head is relatively elongate, compressed and has a pointed snout. The mouth is large. The color is brown to olive green, with light blotches, becoming lighter below. Kelp bass can be easily distinguished from sand bass by the fact that the third, fourth and fifth dorsal spines of kelp bass are about the same length; while in sand bass, the third dorsal spine is much longer than the fourth and fifth spines.

Range : Kelp bass occur from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, to the Columbia River, Washington. They are taken regularly from Point Conception south to central Baja California in depths down to 150 feet.

Natural History : Small shrimp-like crustaceans are very important in the diet of kelp bass of all ages. However, with increase in size there is a corresponding increase in the amount of fish eaten. Anchovies, small surfperch, and other small fishes are part of the diet. By the time kelp bass are 10.5 inches long and 5 years of age, nearly all are capable of spawning. The spawning season usually extends from May through September with a peak during July. As with most members of the bass family, growth is slow and a 9 year old fish is only about 16.5 inches long.

Distribution : Kelp bass are caught primarily with live anchovies fished at or near the surface in and around kelp beds. They may be taken throughout the water column by trolling near kelp beds with live or dead bait. Numerous anglers also catch them on cast plugs, spoons, lures, and jigs. These anglers obtain their best catches with a yellowish, bronze, or white colored jig. In localities where kelp bass are not spoiled by offerings of live bait, they willingly accept hooks baited with strips or chunks of anchovy, mackerel or squid. Kelp bass are noted for their fighting qualities regardless of the type of bait or lure used.

Habitat : They normally live in shallow rocky environment.