Black Sea Bass
Pinbass, Rock Bass
Managed by: SAFMC
The larger individuals of black sea bass are black, while the smaller induviduals are more of a dusky brown. The exposed parts of scales are paler than the margins, giving the fish the appearance of being barred with a series of longitudinal dots. The belly is only 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 nuchal hump.
The black sea bass is a temperate marine species that inhabits irregular hard-bottom areas, such as wrecks or reefs. They are found from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral, and those found in the South Atlantic Bight usually occur more inshore with other tropical reef fish such as snappers, groupers, porgies and grunts. Black sea bass are protogynous hermaphrodites, that is, they change sex with size. Large individuals are males, and smaller individuals are female. The number of eggs produced in a spawning season ranges from 30 thousand to 500 thousand depending on the size of the fish. The spawning season is June through October in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, and February through May in the South Atlantic Bight. Females reach sexual maturity when they are 7.5 inches long, and males when they are 9 inches long. Black sea bass may live up to 20 years, although fish older than 9 years are rare. The maximum size attained is 24 inches and 6 pounds. Black sea bass are opportunistic feeders eating whatever is available, preferring crabs, shrimp, worms, small fish and clams.
South Atlantic Federal Regulations
(For areas ranging from three to 200 miles off the coasts of NC, SC, GA, and East Florida)
New! The Commercial black sea bass fishery is closed effective October 8, 2012. The fishery will reopen on June 1, 2013. See Fishery Bulletin for details.
Limited access permit required.
- 11" TL minimum size limit. New!
- Pots allowed only north of Cape Canaveral, FL.
- Gear restrictions apply.
- Commercial trip limit of 1,000 pounds gutted weight (1,180 pounds whole weight), effective July 1, 2012. New!
- Fishing year June 1 through May 31.
- Annual commercial quota (annual catch limit) = 309,000 lbs gutted weight
- Black sea bass pots are to be removed from the water once quota is met.
- The use of at least a 2 inch mesh for the entire back panel of black sea bass pots is required.
- Note: Read Fishery Bulletin regarding pot endorsement program and other measures, effective July 1, 2012.
Note! The recreational black sea bass fishery closed effective September 4, 2012 read more
- 13" TL minimum size limit
- Daily bag limit is 5 per person/day.
- Gear restrictions apply.
- Recreational Annual Catch Limit (ACL) = 409,000 pounds
- Fishing year is June 1 - May 31