Black Seabass
Typical Size
10-12" (3/4-1 lb.)
Decent Size
13-17" (1-3 lbs.)
Nice Size
18-23" (3-6 lbs.)
26.5" (9 lbs. 8 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

4 lbs.
Genus/Species Centropristis striata
Common Names seabass, humpback, rock bass, black will, squirrel bass, Hunan
Hot Spots Hardings Ledge, Minots Ledge, Cohasset Shoals
Best Time April - December
Best Baits seaworm, shrimp, clam, squid
Best Method Bottom fishing with bait

Black Seabass have two distinct body color types - they are either a gray/brown or a dark blue/black and are mottled with light speckles. The underside is almost the same color but has more speckles. These are truly beautiful fish. They also have large pectoral fins and a long dorsal fin. The rounded tail has a long filament trailing out from the top edge. The mouth is large with very small and harmless teeth. What isn't harmless is the flat spine that sticks out of the edge of each gill cover. That darn thing has stuck me on more than one occassion.
Black Seabass
Duxbury's Powder Point Bridge is a great place to catch seabass
Black Seabass inhabit areas of heavy structure in depths of 25 to 100 feet preferably with temperatures ranging from 50 to 65 degrees. Black Seabass particularly like to hang out in areas where current shifts push small fish, crabs, and squids into their path. Opportunistic feeders, black sea bass lie in wait, like their cousins the groupers, and then pounce with a burst of speed using their large mouth to swallow prey.

Black Seabass range from the south shore of Massachusetts down to North Carolina but undergo seasonal migrations in these more northerly and southerly reaches of their range. They also move from inshore to offshore grounds, influenced by both temperature and spawning needs. The move to the offshore waters in the winter, at depths of 300-600 feet, preclude most recreational fishing opportunities.

It is at these offshore depths that black seabass spawn. Spawning takes place in February to March. The eggs float inshore with the tide. When the seabass fry hatch they continue to float in the water column until they are about an inch long. At this point they become benthic and enter shallow water estuaries along the coast.

You can fish for black seabass with many different kinds of bait. Seaworm is probably the most popular but shrimp and clam can be just as productive. They will also take cut bait such as herring, squid, sand eels, and half crabs. The same rig used to catch tautog will take seabass. Depending upon current, a 4-6 ounce sinker may be required to hold bottom. Keep in mind that neither the depths fished, nor the fish themselves, are that large so try and use a light to medium-weight boat rod to enjoy the feisty little fight these fish put up.

You can use artificial spinners, spoons, and jigs but bait works far better. Remember, these fish like to hang about in areas of very dense, tackle-eating structure. I would much rather lose a few hooks and sinkers than a ten dollar lure.

Fishing for Black Seabass is an extremely important commercial and recreational fishery. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, where they aren't as plentiful, few, if any charter and party boats take passengers out on seabass trips. Most are caught by accident when inshore fishing for cod. The flesh of the seabass is white, firm, and flavorful. It is often fried, baked or broiled. Due to it's firmness, it is very important that seabass not be overcooked. If overcooked, seabass tend to be tough, chewy, and tasteless.