Also known as rock bass or rockfish.
- Body color dark brown or black
- Dorsal fin with stripes of white over black
- Large males have a fatty hump on head, in front of dorsal fin, as well as blue and ebony markings on body
- Females may have faint vertical bars
- Tail may have three lobes
- Adults have elongated ray on top part of tail
- Back edge of gill cover has a sharp spine
Similar Species: Other sea bass species
Size: Up to 24 inches (8 pounds); common to 12 inches (1.5 pounds)
Coastal waters near structure and rocky bottoms. Smaller specimens are often found inshore in finger channels.
Spawn January through March and are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning older females becoming breeding males. Omnivorous bottom feeders, and their diet includes small fish, crustaceans, and shellfish.
State Record: 5 lb, 1 oz, caught near Panama City.
While they are most commonly caught along Florida’s central and northern coasts, they sometimes venture to south Florida waters during cold winters. Mature black sea bass generally prefer depths of 20 to 80 feet but juveniles can also be caught in shallower water over sea grass and near jetties and reefs.
Anglers commonly catch black sea bass incidentally while bottom fishing for grouper or snapper. While smaller than most other members of the family, black sea bass are aggressive and fun to catch, especially if you scale back to lighter tackle. Light to medium weight spinning or bait casting tackle with 10 to 20 pound test line is sufficient. At times (especially during the winter months) black sea bass are so hungry and aggressive that they will hold on to your lead all the way to the surface or the bottom of your cooler. Good baits for black sea bass include squid, shrimp or cut bait, or jigs tipped with squid. As a food fish, black sea bass are excellent and known for their firm white flesh and mild flavor.
Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles