Often found near reefs or rocky areas with structures, the kelp bass is considered a good sport fish. They can be found in the waters along the west coast of the U.S. from California to Washington state. Many different methods work for catching these fish, some of which include bottom bouncing, still fishing, baitcasting, and saltwater jigging.
Habitat: Ocean, Coastal Waters
How to identify Kelp Bass
Kelp Bass have pale markings that get lighter towards the bottom of their bodies. With an overall dark green-brown color, it’s easy to tell them apart from sand bass. Sand bass have a tall third spine on their dorsal fin, whereas the kelp bass’s third through fifth dorsal spines are equally long.
Where to catch Kelp Bass
Kelp bass can be found from the Columbia River in Washington state to Magdalena Bay in Baja, California. These fish prefer areas with kelp beds, reefs, rocky jetties/breakwaters, and submerged structures. Most kelp bass live at various levels within the water column; however, larger ones prefer deep water.
The following are habitats where you can catch Kelp Bass:
- Baitfish Schools
- Coastal Waters
- Jetties and Breakers
- Kelp Forests and Beds
- Man-made Structures
- Reefs, Wrecks and Shoals
- Rocky Sea Floor
How to catch Kelp Bass
Kelp bass are regarded as a good sport fish because they will put up a serious fight once hooked. Although they can be caught year round, the prime time to catch one is from summer to fall. Look for them in breakwaters, sandbars and among kelp beds. The best methods to use for catching kelp bass include trolling, drifting, and still-fishing from an anchored boat or kayak. Other methods to try include bait casting, bottom bouncing, saltwater jigging, and spin casting. Fast rods work best for these fish in 7- to 8-foot lengths.
When fishing near kelp beds, be aware that these fish will try to dart back into hiding once they strike the lure. For this reason, anglers should be ready to reel them in as soon as they feel a strike to prevent getting tangled in the kelp beds. Using braided fishing lines may help anglers cut through the kelp if the line does get stuck.
The following are effective fishing methods and techniques for catching Kelp Bass:
Best Lures, Bait & Tackle to catch Kelp Bass
Kelp bass are omnivores and will respond equally well to live baits and lures. Baits such as anchovies, crustaceans, queenfish, and sardines are good choices, as are lures, such as metal jigs.
The following are fishing lures, bait and tackle that can be used to catch Kelp Bass: