Calico Bass or Kelp Bass
Cabrilla Alguera, Cabrilla Sargacera
(Paralabrax clathratus)

Calico Bass or Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus: The Calico Bass or Kelp Bass is characterized by its similarity to a freshwater largemouth bass. Its third and fourth dorsal spines are of equal length, and are approximately twice the length of the second dorsal spine.

The upper head of the Calico Bass or Kelp Bass is brownish-olive with random yellow spots, and the upper back is mottled with characteristic white botches on a brown background.

There are two rows of the characteristic rectangular white blotches on the back. The Calico Bass or Kelp Bass is easily differentiated from other members of the bass family by these white botches. The Calico Bass or Kelp Bass reaches a length of 70 cm (28 inches) and just over 6 kg (14 pounds) in weight.

This fish species is normally found near or in kelp beds in the first 50 feet of the water column but larger specimens are found up to 130 feet deep. They feed on crustaceans and small fishes.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

It is a non-migratory fish found in Mexican fishing waters only along the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula from Tijuana south to at least Magdalena Bay. The Calico Bass or Kelp Bass is considered to be an excellent food fish and an important game fish with catch levels being in excess of 500,000 per annum by California party boats.

The Calico Bass or Kelp Bass is a member of the Serrandae or Sea Bass and Grouper Family.

Calico or Kelp Bass picture

Calico or Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus: This fish was caught near the extreme tip on the west coast of Baja documenting a very significant range extension for this species. This catch was made at 23.4N with historical fish only known to 24.3N, indicative of a 110 km or 70 mile southerly range extension for this species. Size 31 cm (12.2 inches).

Calico Bass or Kelp Bass fish picture 1

Calico Bass or Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus: Caught while fishing off the Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego, Calif., in August 2006, with a traditional bottom rig on cut squid bait, with size 4 hooks. Size approximately 12 inches. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.

Calico Bass or Kelp Bass fish picture 2

Calico Bass or Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus: Bob Selvin of Los Angeles caught this beautiful 10 pound, 10 ounce Kelp Bass while fishing at Isla Guadalupe, off the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico, September 2003, during a five-day trip on the Pacific Quest. Photo courtesy Bob Selvin.

Calico Bass or Kelp Bass fish picture 3

Calico Bass or Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus: A slightly retouched photo, courtesy Jerry Esten, left, and Jay Madea.

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