The Kelp Bass is a species of marine fish. As suggested by its common name, it is typically associated with kelp beds, but may also be found in rocky areas or near hard structures. It is considered an excellent food fish, and is a popular recreational fishery species in Southern California. While the population is believed to be stable, large individuals are relatively rare due to fishing pressure. Commercial fishing for this species has been illegal since the 1950s. Current regulations in California allow only 14-inch or longer Kelp Bass to be kept by recreational fishermen.
It can reach a length of 28 1⁄2 inches (72 cm), and, being a slow grower, live for as long as 34 years. The color of Kelp Bass is brown to olive green with pale blotches on the back, becoming lighter below. They are easily be distinguished from the sand basses by the fact that the third, fourth and fifth dorsal spines are about the same length, whereas the third dorsal spine of the sand basses is much longer than the fourth and fifth.
You should use a medium weight saltwater bait casting setup. A good solution would be a 7’-8’ rod rated 15-30lbs(7.5-15kg) and a good bait casting reel with a fast retrieve ratio like a Daiwa Pluton or a Shimano Curado. Kelp Bass can be readily caught on both bait and lures. You can catch them from shore, but like most fishing your chances are better from a boat. Chumming with small anchovies is an effective method of getting them in the feeding mood if you have a large bait tank. Once they are actively feeding near the boat you can cast either lures or bait to them. Kelp Bass readily bite a number of artificial lures that imitate small fish most are caught using 5” plastic swimbaits. The most popular ones are made by a company called Big Hammer. You can use them in Halloween, Mackerel, and Sardine colors. Just attach them to a lead jig head of 1/2oz-1oz or so and cast them into the kelp. For smaller Kelp Bass one of the best baits is a live anchovy. Find a lively one and cast it into the kelp. Sardines are also a good Kelp Bass bait. If you are just targeting the larger ones then a live mackerel is a good choice. Many big Kelp Bass hunters like fishing with larger perch, croaker, and other fish that sometimes get mixed in with the anchovy or sardine baits. Stick a larger hook in one of these, cast it to a promising spot, and get ready.
They are found in the eastern North Pacific Ocean from Baja California, Mexico, to Washington, USA(although rare in the northernmost part of its range).