Kelp Bass
Paralabrax clathratus

Physical Description

  • Large, pale to white fish with back and sides mottled in solid shades of yellow, brown, or black
  • Tail square cut
  • First two dorsal spines are short, third and fourth dorsal spines are about twice as long


  • Occur from Columbia River, Washington to Magdalena Bay, Baja California. Common from Point Conception south to central Baja.


  • Found in water as deep as 150 feet
  • Shallow rocky environments


  • Small, shrimp-like crustaceans, anchovies, small surfperch, other small fish
  • With increase in size of kelp bass, increase in amount of fish in diet


  • California barracuda, sea bass, kelp bass, marine mammals, large fishes

Interesting Facts

  • Kelp bass are also called calico bass and are very popular with nearshore recreational anglers

Sources: California Department Fish and Wildlife;; Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Photo: Jeremy Smith

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