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AKA: blackfish, Atlantic sea bass, bass, rock bass, old humpback, pinbass

Description: Larger black sea bass are black, while the smaller ones are more of a dusky brown. The exposed parts of scales are paler than the margins, making the fish look like it is barred with a series of dots running lengthwise. The belly is slightly lighter in color than the sides. The fins are dark, and the dorsal is marked with a series of white spots and bands. The upper portion of the caudal fin ends as a filament. During spawning, males may have a conspicuous blue hump at the nape of the neck.

Size: Black sea bass grow to 24 inches and 6 pounds.

Sometimes confused with: black drum, bank sea bass, rock sea bass

Habitat: Black sea bass inhabit irregular hard-bottom areas, such as wrecks or reefs. They are found from Cape Cod, Mass., to Cape Canaveral, Fla., and those found in the South Atlantic usually occur more inshore with other tropical reef fish, such as snappers, groupers, porgies and grunts. Juveniles are common in the high-salinity areas of the estuaries during the summer.

Eating habits: Black sea bass are opportunistic feeders eating whatever is available, but they prefer crabs, shrimp, worms, small fish and clams.

Life cycle: Black sea bass change sex with size. Large individuals are males, and smaller individuals are female. They spawn from February through May in the South Atlantic. Females reach sexual maturity when they are around 7.5 inches long and males when they are around 9 inches long. Seasonal inshore and offshore migrations occur along the northern part of the black sea bass range above Cape Hatteras.

Fishing tips: Anglers bottom fish for black sea bass over wrecks and reefs using strips of squid or fish as bait.

N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament

Award for harvest of fish, 4 pounds or greater.

See the list of weigh stations


Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2.

Current Proclamations

Recreational Size and Bag Limits

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