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White seabass, angler favorites from Baja California to Alaska, are known by a multitude of nicknames, including Catalina salmon, seatrout, king croaker or white weakfish. They are part of the croaker family and are prized for both their fighting ability and taste on the plate, although they don’t freeze well.
Anglers should key in on dolphins and porpoises feeding through big schools of baitfish, especially anchovies. A bird show usually accompanies the sea bass feeding frenzy. Below the surface, schools of adult white sea bass are often feeding on the same baitfish. A stealthy drift through the scene can result in powerful hookups.
Depending on the season and fishing conditions, white sea bass can be caught on live or freshly dead squid, sardines or mackerel. Jigging or casting feathers or small, flashy metal lures can also produce fish. Some seasoned fishermen shy against using bait that’s too lively, noting that white sea bass seem to prefer an easy meal.
According to the International Gamefish Association, white seabass are usually found near the mainland shore, usually over rocky or sandy bottom or around kelp forests. While they can be found in waters up to 400 feet deep, they seem to prefer depths under 200 feet or less.
They have large mouths with a slightly protruding lower jaw with no barbels on the chin. They have two dorsal fins, and their pectoral fins have a black spot at the base. Their lifespan ranges from 12 to 20 years. Adults are steel blue to gray on the upper portion of their bodies and silvery with golden below.
Here is a look at 11 of the biggest white sea bass, as recorded in the IGFA record books.
All-Tackle World Record – 83 Pounds, 12 Ounces
Lyal Baumgardner is the all-tackle world record holder with an 83-pound, 12-ounce white sea bass. It was 65.50 inches long with a 34-inch girth. Baumgardner caught the fish March 31, 1953, while fishing off San Felipe, Mexico. He was using a Sila-Flex rod with an Ocean City 107 reel. The line was 12-thread Rainbeau Surf. He was drifting a sardine. This catch is also the record in the Male 30-Pound Line Class category.
All-Tackle Length World Record – 35.83 Inches
The all-tackle record for length is held by Timothy Humphrey with a 35.83-inch fish. Humphrey caught the fish June 2, 2013, off Santa Barbara Island, California. He was using a Seeker rod, Daiwa reel and 65-pound PowerPro line. He was bait fishing with live squid.
Female Junior World Record – 57 Pounds, 6 Ounces
Kale’a Patricia Woodard reigns as female junior world record holder with a 57-pound, 6-ounce white sea bass. Her fish measured 54 inches with a 26-inch girth. She was bait fishing with a squid off Punta Colonett, Baja California, Mexico, on June 18, 2014, when the fish bit. She was using a Calstar rod with an Okuma reel spooled with 40-pound Izorline.
Male Junior World Record – 59 Pounds
In the male junior division, Shane Aviano is the record holder with a 59-pounder that also measured 59 inches. The fish had a 34-inch girth. Aviano caught the fish June 21, 2002, off Imperial Beach, California. He was using a Seeker rod and a Shimano Corsair 400 reel. The line was 15-pound Ande. He was casting a Slammer Jig.
Male 16-Pound Tippet Fly Fishing World Record – 38 Pounds, 9 Ounces
Unsurprisingly, given the fish’s propensity to feed well down in the water column, there are many vacant records in the fly-fishing categories for white seabass. Angler Stan Pleskunas has the 16-pound tippet record with a 38-pound, 9-ounce fish. It taped out at 49 inches long with a 25-inch girth. Pleskunas caught the fish on Sept. 9, 2001, off Monterey, California. He was using a G. Loomis rod with a Ross Saltwater III reel loaded with 15-pound P-Line. He was fishing with a Stan’s Squid fly.
Male 50-Pound Line Class World Record – 79 Pounds
A more recent record was set April 24, 2021 in the male 50-pound line class. Angler Frank Bruder’s 79-pound white sea bass was caught off Corona Del Mar, California. The fish was 58.27 inches long with a 33-inch girth. Bruder was wielding a Phoenix reel paired with a Shimano reel. The line brand is not specified in the records. He was using live bait.
Male 16-Pound Line Class World Record – 78 Pounds
David Sternberg is the male 16-pound line class record holder with a 78-pounder caught April 4, 2002, off Monterey, California. Sternberg’s fish was 62 inches long with a 32-inch girth. The gear included a Shakespeare Ugly Stik, Daiwa S027LC reel and 12-pound Maxima line. He was drifting a squid.
Female 50-Pound Line Class World Record – 67 Pounds, 4 Ounces
Taylor Kingsmill’s 67-pound, 4-ounce white seabass nails down the female 50-pound line class record.
Her 58.50-inch-long fish (girth not recorded) came off Dana Point, California, on April 25, 2018. She was using a Shimano rod and reel combo with 50-pound line. She mixed things up, pairing a spoon with a live mackerel to catch the fish.
Female 30-Pound Line Class World Record – 62 Pounds
A 62-pound fish is the world record in the female 30-pound line class category. Mrs. D.W. Jackson caught the white sea bass on Dec. 6, 1951, while fishing off Malibu, California. The fish was 57 inches long with a 28-inch girth. Jackson was using a Harnell hollow glass rod and a Penn #250 reel spooled with 36-pound Golden Dot line. She caught the fish on a live sardine.
Male 6-Pound Line Class World Record – 56 Pounds, 3 Ounces
Vick L. Sommers holds both the 6-pound and 8-pound line class world records. His 6-pound line class record fish was a 56-pound, 3-ounce catch on June 15, 2015, off Newport Beach, California. It measured 55 inches long and had a 29-inch girth. Sommers’ tools included a Phoenix rod, Daiwa reel and Ande 6-pound line. Sommers’ 8-pound record white seabass, caught in June 2012 off Newport Beach, weighed 66 pounds, 14 ounces
Male Smallfry World Record – 54 Pounds, 13 Ounces
Gavin Simmons holds the male world smallfry record with a 54-pound, 13-ounce fish caught July 3, 2009, off Point Mesquite, Baja, Mexico. Simmons’ fish was 56 inches long and had a 28-inch girth. He used a Seeker rod with a Shimano TR 2000 reel. The line was 25-pound P-Line. He was bait fishing with a squid.
Editor’s Note: Anglers interested in supporting sport fishing worldwide should consider buying a membership to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Salt Water Sportsman is a strong supporter of the IGFA and their mission. IGFA members receive access to the IGFA World Record database, historical videos, a monthly International Angler digital publication, and discounts on tackle and charters from IGFA partners.