The black sea bass (Centropristis
striata) is a member of the family Serranidae, or true sea
basses. Also known in the Chesapeake Bay area as "black
will," "chub," or simply sea bass, they are
year-round inhabitants of the mid-Atlantic region. These bass
are bluish-black fish as adults and brownish as juveniles and
have scales with pale blue or white centers.
The black sea bass
population extends from Maine to the Florida Keys and into the
Gulf of Mexico. Black sea bass found north of Cape Hatteras
are seasonally migratory, from a stock that is considered
distinct from that south of the Cape. In the Bay, adults
migrate offshore and south to overwinter in the deep,
100-meter waters off the Virginia and Maryland coasts. In
spring the fish return to the mid and lower Bay, as far north
as Solomonís Island, and remain there until late fall. Black
sea bass have been captured as far north as the Chester River,
but most fish encountered near the shore are juveniles (one to
two years old).
Adult black sea bass are
considered a temperate reef fish, and are most often found on
rocky bottoms near pilings, wrecks and jetties. Visual feeders
during daylight hours, black sea bass rely on swift currents
and their large mouths to capture their prey, which include
other fish, crabs, mussels and razor clams. Although they do
not travel in schools, they can be found in large groups
around structures or during inshore-offshore migrations.
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