Barred sand bass
|Barred sand bass|
(Girard, 1854) 
The body of the barred sand bass is elongated and compressed. It has a large mouth, and the lower jaw protrudes slightly. Its color is gray-white on the back and white on the belly. There are dark vertical bars on the sides. Barred sand bass can be easily distinguished from kelp bass by the height of the third dorsal spine. In barred sand bass, this spine is the longest of the dorsal spines, while in the kelp bass, the third, fourth and fifth dorsal spines are of about equal length. Barred sand bass can be distinguished from spotted sand bass by the lack of spots on the body.
Barred sand bass occur from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, to Santa Cruz, California. This species occurs from shallow water to depths of 600 feet; however, most fish are taken in 60 to 90 feet of water.
The barred sand bass diet includes crabs, octopus, squid, and small fishes. The adults aggregate and spawn during warmer months. The eggs are free floating. The striped young appear in southern California nearshore areas and eelgrass beds during fall and winter.
In the 1960s and 1990s, biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) tagged a total of 9,000 barred sand bass in southern California. The recapture information from these two time periods enabled us to document large-scale spawning-related movements of barred sand bass for the first time. Using this dataset we have attempted to discover 1) how long individual barred sand bass remain at spawning grounds during spawning season, 2) how far fish migrate to spawn, and 3) whether fish show fidelity to certain spawning locations. Overall, the CDFW received 972 barred sand bass tag returns from tagging efforts conducted in the 1960s and 1990s (an 11 percent recapture rate). Based on recapture frequencies, it appears that barred sand bass individuals remain on spawning grounds (e.g., Huntington Beach Flats) for at least one month during peak spawning season. Following spawning season, some fish remain, while others move away. The average migration distance from spawning locations was about 15 miles, although it appears that not all individuals at spawning grounds migrate to the same locations after spawning season. Overall, the farthest recapture distance was approximately 57 miles. Annual patterns in the timing and occurrence of recaptures strongly suggest barred sand bass visit the same spawning grounds year after year.
Most barred sand bass landed in California are taken between May and October. They are fished in three main areas: Horseshoe Kelp to Newport Beach, Dana Point to Oceanside and the Silver Strand off San Diego. Barred sand bass, continues to be one of the most sought-after sport fish in southern California. Since the 1960s, this species has ranked among the top ten sport fish caught by commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs), or "party boats," in southern California, with annual catches averaging nearly one million fish over the last 20 years. For decades, CPFVs and private recreational boaters have targeted well-known spawning aggregation sites throughout southern California, including the Ventura Flats, Santa Monica Bay, Huntington Beach Flats, San Onofre, and San Diego. Approximately 71 percent of the annual barred sand bass catch is harvested by the CPFV fleet from June through August, during peak spawning season. The best method for catching barred sand bass is to search a sandy area with an echosounder until a school is located. The boat then can be anchored and fishing commenced with live anchovies. Barred sand bass will usually "build" or gather under the boat when chummed so it pays to wait for a while before moving.
The world record for largest barred sand bass is held by Robert Halal of Huntington Beach. The fish weighed 13 pounds, 3 ounces, and was caught on August 29, 1988.
- This article was copied from California Marine Sportfish by the California Department of Fish and Game, Marine Region; a public domain resource.