Black Sea Bass Fish Facts

Learn basic facts and information about the bottom-feeding saltwater fish called black sea bass.

Black Sea Bass Fish Facts

Although they’re not the largest of fish, black sea bass are one of the most popular saltwater species to catch and eat. Once considered an unwanted ‘bycatch’ species, sea bass are highly sought after for their delicious fillets, and for sport fishing.

Read more about how to catch black sea bass.

➤What do black sea bass look like?

As their name suggests, sea bass are black in color, but can also have a gray body. During spawning season, the dominant male-sea-bass develop a hump on their head and have vibrant-blue color shades. Sea bass have stout-bodies, flat-heads, pointed-snouts, and large-mouths. Juvenile sea bass are brown in color and have a horizontal-stripe running along their body.

➤Where do black sea bass live?

Adult black sea bass can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, from the Gulf of Maine to the Florida Keys. Many sea bass swim in small schools and migrate north to spend the summer months in New England waters. Locally on Cape Cod, there are large populations at Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds, Buzzards Bay, and the Elizabeth Islands. In recent years, black sea bass have pushed north into the Gulf of Maine as the ocean temperatures have increased. Younger-sea-bass tend to live in backwaters or estuaries to feed and avoid being eaten by predators. Since sea bass occupy much of the same habitat as striped bass, they are often caught accidentally. Sea bass spend their days around wrecks, piers, jetties, shoals, reefs, and rockpiles.

➤What do black sea bass eat?

Even though sea bass do not have big, sharp, and pointy-teeth to crush their food like other predatory fish, they do have small and harmless teeth. Adult sea bass are aggressive bottom feeders and are not picky; their menu consists of a wide variety of crustaceans, fishes, mollusks, and worms.

A small crab lodged inside the mouth of a black sea bass.
A small crab lodged inside the mouth of a black sea bass.

➤How big do black sea bass grow to?

Some adult black sea bass grow up to 2-feet in length and 9-pounds in weight. However, most do not grow over 4-pounds.

➤What do black sea bass taste like?

Even though their filets are on the smaller side, many people consider sea bass to be the best eating northeast inshore fish. Their meat is tender, translucent, breaks into small flakes, and is mild in flavor. Sea bass are not an oily fish and they can be cooked in a variety of ways. However, they can be tedious to fillet because of their rib cage bones.

➤What is the scientific name for black sea bass?

The scientific name for black sea bass is centropristis striata. They’re members of the Serranidae family, which also includes grouper, the often-solitary, structure-loving reef fishes of temperate and tropical waters.

Black sea bass are members of the Serranidae family.

➤Why do black sea bass change sexes?

All sea bass are born females, but when they become 2-to-5 years old, and 9-to-13 inches in length, some change sexes, and become males. It is unclear why the sex change occurs, but there is some scientific research suggesting the lack of males in a local spawning group may be the cause. The change happens during the fall and winter after sea bass finish spawning.

➤Why do sea bass make a grunting noise?

Sea bass have a large swim bladder, which can produce small thumps and grunting noises. The vibrations are produced to escape predators, but they are also associated with competitive feeding.

➤When do black sea bass spawn?

In New England, black sea bass females produce up to 500,00 eggs during the spring spawning season. The eggs float in the water for several days before turning into larvae.

There are two stocks of sea bass; a northern and southern stock.
There are two stocks of sea bass; a northern and southern stock.

➤What is the black sea bass world record?

The world record black sea bass weighed 10-pounds, and 4-ounces and was caught in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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14 on “Black Sea Bass Fish Facts

  1. Johnny “Neptune”

    If this was 2014, I would say, “Kevin is sleep writing”. But after witnessing the exact behavior on many occasion, last June, on the east facing beaches of Aquidneck island. First beach, Newport.
    second beach Middletown, in 20’/30′ of water and minimal structure, chasing peanut bunker or anchovies, sand eels. Like Kevin the first time I saw this behavior I stood on the bow of my boat in disbelieve. We ate tons of delicious sea bass last year. I hope 2016 is a mirror image…
    I say great article Kevin!!!

  2. Pat

    Had this happen to me and my crew this past Saturday AM in vineyard sound about 3 miles off Craigville beach in 25-30 feet of water..boat splashed for 1st time this year and in under 30 minutes we had fish on…Every angler on the boat could’ve had limit in first 30 minutes, we saw birds diving within 3 miles of leaving Hyannis Marina. It was a savage black sea bass catch-fest, chasing hooked fish all the way to the surface you could almost net half a dozen if you wanted to. All were caught on Buck tails, Ron Z and Al Gag’s, easily boated 100+ fish in the 3 hours of fishing and 80% were 16″+ and 3-5lbs. Never have i seen anything like it, too bad it was a week before season opens

  3. Bob

    I caught a 12-14″ fish off a Dennisport jetty this week. I believe the water is only 10-15′ and it hit a Gulp sea worm . Caught plenty of Scup, Kingfish, occasional Flounder but the Bass was a first.

  4. Andrew Aronson

    Had more than one black hit a tube n worm in buzzards bay while trolling for stripers!

  5. Murat

    I caught an 18 inch black Sea bass using mackerel on high low rig at Black falcon pier last Friday. I was chumming squid and mackerel , and dropped the rig straight down.

  6. Daren H Thigpen

    I’ve experienced on past the age like 30’s . I saw somebody fishing boat was caught Black Sea Bass on 12 miles the off inshore. They didn’t caught those lure a fishing pier on Surf City,NC black sea bass since the year. I don’t know what kind bait and lure did to them fisherman on the pier.

  7. Henry Jordan

    I have been catching 16”+ sea bass drifting bunker chunks in August

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