Channel Islands
SportFishing

White Sea Bass Fishing

White sea bass fishing usually begins sometime in the spring with March the typical first month to see good number of white sea bass. White sea bass fishing at this time of year is done mainly around offshore islands such as Santa Cruz Island with other islands also having good prospects. White sea bass can also be caught on the coast and all length fishing trips can catch these game fish. Early season white sea bass are almost always caught on live or fresh dead squid. Often white sea bass will locate spawning squid and will actively feed on them. As spring continues white sea bass may also be taken on sardines or mackerel as well as anchovies as they become less keyed in on one food source.
By summer you can catch white sea bass on almost any bait or jig. Still favorite baits are large sardines, mackerel, and live squid. White sea bass are also caught in the fall and winter months but usually other game fish are taking the spotlight at this time. 

One technique is the use of a white iron jig in combination with two live squid pinned on. The iron jig is just in contact with the bottom, but on occasion has a little motion from the rock of the boat. Why on the earth would this prove effective on white sea bass, well many times white sea bass will feed on spawning squid and when squid spawn they lock together at times as they drift to the bottom ending their lifecycle. White sea bass want to spend the least amount of energy for the biggest payout and will slurp up these multiple squid combinations. Thus the white jig with squid pinned on mimics this natural occurrence during a squid spawn. This technique can be very effective on large white sea bass and heavy line is a must 40 pound test the standard.

Another technique is using a medium sized mackerel for bait. This technique works well in the summer months especially when fishing areas where other smaller game fish are abundant. Often using a sardine or anchovy will attract calico bass, barracuda, and sand bass before a white sea bass locates the offering. By using a larger bait it reduces the likelihood of catching these smaller game fish. When fishing a mackerel use at least a 2/ 0 hook and 30 pound test. Unlike yellowtail fishing in which the more lively the bait the more likely to get bit, white sea bass tend to go after semi active baits so your mackerel should not be super active. A slow steady swimming bait is ideal. This technique can work well on even our shortest fishing trips like our ½ day trips. Many very large white sea bass have been caught and lost with just this sort of technique. Letting your mackerel swim naturally and paying attention to your bait is key. When your bait suddenly lives up this could mean a white sea bass is very close. Keep a close eye on your line and if you feel a bump do not yank up (or set the hook) instead give it more line. Often a white sea bass will not take the bait until sampling it for sometime. Once you feel the weight of the fish on your line count to 5 and then bring your line tight while setting the hook. Once the fish is hooked the fun begins.

White Sea Bass

Atractoscion nobilis

White seabass or white weakfish, Atractoscion nobilis, is a species of croaker occurring from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, toJuneau, Alaska. They usually travel in schools over deep rocky bottoms (0-122 m) and in and out of kelp beds.

The body of the white seabass is elongate, and somewhat compressed. The head is pointed and slightly compressed. The mouth is large, with a row of small teeth in the roof; the lower jaw slightly projects. The color is bluish to gray above, with dark speckling, becoming silver below. The young have several dark vertical bars. The white seabass is closely related to theCalifornia corbina, but is the only California member of the croaker family to exceed 20 pounds in weight. The largest recorded specimen was over 5 feet, 93.1 pounds. They are most easily separated from other croakers by the presence of a ridge running the length of the belly. The diet of white seabass includes fishes, especially anchovies and sardines, and squid. At times, large fish are found which have eaten only Pacific mackerel. At the minimum legal length of 28 inches, the average white seabass is about 5 years of age, weighs about 7.5 pounds and has been sexually mature for at least one spawning season.

White seabass are fished primarily with live bait in relatively shallow water, but they will also take a fast-trolled spoon, artificial squid or bone jig. Live squid appear to be the best bait for a white seabass, but large anchovies and medium-size sardines are also good. At times, large white seabass will bite only on fairly large, live Pacific mackerel.

The young of this species are exceptionally vulnerable to sport anglers for two reasons: The first is that as juveniles they inhabit shallow nearshore areas, bays, and estuaries, and the second is that they are not easily recognized as white seabass by the average angler. Commonly, these young fish are mistakenly called "sea trout" because of their sleek profile and vertical bars or "parr marks". To add to the confusion, these bars fade as the fish grows.

In California, there is a 28 inch size limit and current fishing regulations should be checked concerning bag limits.