Black Sea Bass

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Diving with Black Sea Bass, Anacapa Island
photo by Jeff Bosanic
Additional records:
1904. H. L. Smith. 402 pounds
1906. C. H. Earle. 372 pounds
1907. C. J. Tripp. 427 pounds
1908. Lloyd B. Newell. 380 pounds
1909. R. C. Baird. 394 pounds
1910. Jesse Roberts. 385 pounds
1911. J. S. Dempsey. 430-½ pounds
1912. S. W. Guthrie. 427 pounds
1913. E. T. Wallace. 365 pounds
320# Black Sea Bass, Santa Catalina Island, 1910
Santa Catalina Island

Black Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas) (Black Jewfish; California Black Sea Bass; Giant Sea Bass; Goliath Grouper), a game-fighter in the grouper family that can grow to enormous size, some in excess of 600 pounds. They are the largest bony fish on the California coast. These fish are reported from Cedros Island, Mexico and north along the California coast. The International Game Fish Association world-record giant sea bass was taken at Anacapa Island on August 20, 1968. It weighed 563 pounds 8 ounces. The world record take free-diving was taken at Santa Cruz Island in September 1968 and weighed 545 pounds. Larger fish have been recorded, including several taken in Baja California, Mexico. Charles Frederick Holder mentions fish in excess of 800 pounds. By the 1970s they had been fished to near-extinction, and in the late 1970s, the California Department of Fish and Game made it illegal to spearfish these giants. In 1982, both commercial and sport fishing of Giant Black Sea Bass was banned in California waters. They are now classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, making them as imperiled as the black rhino.

LARGEST BLACK SEA BASS, Heavy Tackle and 80 Lb. Class

Sea Bass catches taken at Santa Catalina Island:

  • July 30, 1889: Jewfish weighing 342.5 pounds (pic)
  • September 16, 1899: Mr. T. S. Manning with a 370 lb. black sea bass (pic)
  • August 17, 1900: Franklin S. Schenck, of Brooklyn, N.Y., with a 384 lb. black sea bass (pic)
  • July 15, 1901: R. F. Stocking with a 430 pound black sea bass
  • July 28, 1901: Mrs. A. W. (Pauline) Barrett with a 416 lbs. black sea bass (pic)
  • July 30, 1901: Mrs. E. N. Dickerson, of New York, N.Y., with a 363 lb. black sea bass
  • August 6, 1902: A. C. Abbott, 363 pound black sea bass (pic)
  • 1902: Harrison T. Kendall of Pasadena, 419 pound black sea bass (pic)
  • August 26, 1903: Edward Beach Llewellyn (1879-1936) with a 425 lb. black sea bass (pic)
  • July 30, 1904: Dr. L. M. Taylor and H. St. A. Earlscliff, with 320, 280, 250, 170 and 130 pound fish (pic)
  • July 3, 1905: John T. Perkins caught a 428 lb. black sea bass (pic)
  • July 16, 1905: Levin Graham Murphy (1841-1925), a lumberman of Converse, Indiana, with a hickory rod of his own creation and 436 lb. black sea bass (pic)

  • 1933
    200 pounds
    RPPC postmarked 1933
  • Beauty and the Fish
    c. 1930s
  • 1939
    270 pounds & 182 pounds
    John Hageman of San Francisco (left) &
    E. L. Miller of Burlingame (right)
    Caught at Santa Catalina Island August 30, 1939
  • January 7, 1962
    557 pounds
    Caught on medium tackle by Richard Lane
  • September 29, 1962
    398 pounds
    Caught on light tackle by John Scott, Jr.
  • Black Sea Bass in the Submarine Gardens
    Avalon, Catalina Island, Cal.
    Copyrighted by Baker Photographic Co., 1910
    F. W. Woolworth Co.
    postmarked October 19, 1913
    [original in SCIF archives]
  • Top of Page

    In the News~

    August 18, 1861 [San Joaquin Republican]: “Captain Swain, at Catalina Island, off Los Angeles, near Johnson's Landing, on Monday last caught a fish weighing two hundred and ninety-one pounds. It is known among watermen as a "jue fish," and is said to be a monster of its species.”

    November 15, 1873 [SBDP]: “We noticed a fish which was caught by Captain Libbey, several days ago, that weighed 250 pounds. And now again comes the Captain with another fish of the same kind (black bass) weighing four hundred pounds.”

    November 18, 1876 [SBDP]: “A two hundred and fifty pound jewfish was brought ashore by the fishermen yesterday. He was a huge, round, black fellow, with some of the marks of a rock fish. His scales were as large as 20-cent pieces, and could gulp a common sized dog with little difficulty. The Californios call this fish corvina, and its flesh is very desirable as food; though coarse-grained, it is sweet and tender. They are frequently caught in the channel.”

    July 20, 1877 [SBDP]: “A monster sea bass was caught yesterday in the harbor by the Italian fishermen. It weighed over 150 pounds and was nearly seven feet long.”

    December 12, 1878 [SBDP]: “Big fish. Larco, the fisherman, caught yesterday on his shark lines two large jewfish, one of which weighed when dressed 144 pounds, and the other nearly 300 pounds. The larger one he cut up and retailed on the street today, and the smaller one he sent to Ventura.”

    July 16, 1882 [LAT]: “Col. Banbury, Mr. Woodbury, Mr. Washburn and Mr. Giddings, of Pasadena, and Mr. G. A. Brandis of Los Angeles, returned yesterday from a very enjoyable trip to Catalina Island. They caught 1225 barracudas, three jewfish and a large number of yellowtails in about three days. About two hundred campers are now on the island. There are an abundance of sheep and some wild goats…”

    December 9, 1884 [SBDI]: “A species of fish known as the Jew variety, weighing 500 pounds, was caught at San Diego last week.”

    May 11, 1885 [SBDI]: “Sebastain Larco, son of Andrea Larco, caught a black sea bass yesterday weighing over 300 pounds.”

    May 11, 1885 [SBDP]: “Larco yesterday caught a 200 pound jewfish in the channel.”

    May 27, 1885 [SBDP]: “At a rough guess there were two dozen amateur fishermen on the wharf this forenoon, many of them having lines set for jewfish.”

    August 6, 1885 [LAT]: “Catching jewfish in the sea off Catalina Island is exciting sport. The jewfish is big game, and can only be taken by a judicious combination of skill, strategy and square open fighting on the part of his pursuers. A party of jewfish hunters got back from that island Tuesday… They brought with them two enormous captures of the fish species, taken offshore near Timms’ Landing. One of these — the largest — was a most extraordinary capture… The fish measures six feet eight inches in length, weighs 380 pounds, and has a mouth that will take in an average-sized dog with ease and comfort…”

    June 9, 1886 [SBDI]: “Several jewfish that would weigh 200 pounds and over were seen yesterday from the wharf. This fact brought out several boys last evening and a general hunt for the monsters was kept up till quite late in the evening.”

    April 16, 1887 [SBDI]: “Captain Larco arrived this morning in his new fishing boat from a week’s cruise to the different islands that lie in the channel, on a fishing expedition, and while off the east end of Santa Cruz Island yesterday he caught a 300 pound jewfish. The fish was captured under peculiar circumstances. At the time Captain Larco was dragging his seine for red fish, and discovering that he was ‘hooked’ on to something of great strength, (for his boat was fairly flying through the water) he commenced the work of taking in his netting. The nearer he got to the monster, the more vicious the fish pulled… The fish is now on exhibition at Mr. Larco’s residence on State Street, and it is his intention to forward it to San Francisco on the next steamer that goes north, expecting to realize $20 for it… Joseph Delaney, last fall while fishing for sharks at the wharf, caught one that weighed 250 pounds, and got a good round sum for the fish after it was in his possession but a few minutes.”

    April 17, 1887 [SBMP]: “Larco, the fisherman, is reported to have a 300 pound jewfish at this place which he caught over at Santa Cruz Island.”

    September 1, 1889 [LAH]: “The largest jewfish of the season was taken yesterday. One man took three, one of which weighed 394 pounds. It has been photographed in all sorts of ways, and is a monster.”

    August 10, 1890 [LAH]: ”The last jewfish capture took place on Sunday. THe fish was a 250-pounder and its captors were Llew Parcells, D. E. Merriam, Geo. Elliott and Sandy Macdonnell.”

    June 18, 1891 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara Press. A jewfish weighing 240 pounds was caught yesterday afternoon in the channel by one of Larco’s fishermen. It was shipped on the afternoon train to San Francisco. The jewfish is not often seen in these waters, but are plentiful farther south. They are often caught near Catalina Island, weighing from three to five hundred pounds. Mr. Larco says that about ten years ago he caught one near the Santa Barbara islands weighing 800 pounds. The fish is very good food, the flesh excelling that of the barracuda or the sea bass.”

    October 9, 1891 [LAT/SB]: “A jewfish of large proportions and weighing 200 pounds was brought over from the islands by Captain Ellis of the schooner Santa Barbara this morning and shipped by him to Los Angeles. The fishing season is at its height apparently. Hundreds of mackerel are being caught daily.”

    November 3, 1891 [LAH]: “A couple of fishermen were out in a small boat Sunday and returned with a 300-pound jewfish. After being prepared ready for market this monster weighed over 235 pounds.”

    November 4, 1891 [SBMP]: “Captain Ellis arrived in the steam yacht Santa Barbara early yesterday morning with 1000 pounds of fish which were shipped to the San Joaquin Valley by rail. He also brought over five jewfish which averaged about 250 pounds apiece.”

    January 20, 1892 [SBDI]: “A large crowd on the noon ferryboat collected about one of the trunk carts yesterday, attracted by a huge and queer fish that was extended along the frame of the trunk… The sea leviathan was a species of the black sea bass, and by all offs the largest of its kind ever captured on this coast. Its weight was about 400 pounds. It was captured off Catalina Island…”

    March 3, 1892 [SBMP]: “One of Larco’s fishermen brought a jewfish from the islands Thursday evening that weighed 350 pounds. It was caught between Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands.”

    March 4, 1892 [SBDI]: “Captain Larco caught a fine jewfish yesterday. It weighed about 300 pounds.”

    August 11, 1892 [LAT/SCat]: “A 300-pound jewfish was caught at Swain’s Landing.”

    May 14, 1893 [LAH]: “J. E. Woolley and his assistant, Mr. Dunn, made the prize catch this morning, being nothing less than a monster jewfish, weighing 354 pounds. This leviathan was a somewhat tough one for the two men to land, as he dove with the hook for the bottom and towed the little smack upwards of a mile before coming up, and then it was pretty sharp work to get him aboard without sinking the smack. The steaks from this big fish are being disposed of today with alacrity. Woolley and Dunn secured 500 weight of halibut and bass in addition to the jewfish.”

    August 1, 1894 [LAH]: ”Messrs. Bell and J. S. Torrance captured the largest jewfish of the season, weight 400 pounds. Mr. Darling of this city also brought in one of the mammoth fellows which excited much admiration among the fishers.”

    August 12, 1894 [LAH]: ”A party consisting of Fred Moore, president of the board of education; King H. J. Edwards, president Electrical Improvement Company; Paul P. Austin, mayor; John D. MacKenzie, of the revenue office; James T. Kelley, secretary to railroad commissioners, and Wm. Moore, a capitalist, all of San Jose, are at the Westminster. They have been at Catalina for the past week. While over at the island they caught two jewfish, one weighing 418 pounds and the other 330 pounds. In order to prove their luck they shipped the fish to San Jose by express.”

    September 24, 1894 [LAT/VC]: “Lazio brothers caught a 325 pound jewfish off the Anacapa Island a day or so ago.”

    July 11, 1895 [SBDI]: “The Larco boys have shipped a 200-pound jewfish to San Francisco; the fish was caught in the channel this week.”

    July 12, 1895 [SBDI]: “One of Larco’s men had an exciting encounter with a jewfish this morning. The monster, weighing probably 300 pounds, had become entangled in the sea bass net near the kelp, and when the fisherman was hauling in the catch, the big fish made a rush toward the boat; before he got clear of the net the skiff was half-full of water, and the net was badly torn. The boys say they may catch the fellow in the course of a few days, but they don’t want him in a net.”

    July 13, 1895 [SFC]: “Avalon, July 12. A jewfish caught by S. M. Beard with rod and line at Catalina — weight 215 pounds. The fishing record of the Pacific Coast is broken by a Canandiagua (N.Y.) angler, Stuart-Menteth Beard, who has been making enormous catches all the season at Catalina Island. Recently Mr. Beard returned for a two days’ fishing expedition to San Clemente Island, which lies twenty miles farther out to sea, bringing a 215-pound jewfish, which he landed with a light rod and a 15-thread Cuddyhunk line, after a three hour and thirty-five minutes’ fight. The gamey monster towed the boat with three men in it a distance of two and a half miles out to sea. The battle took place after dark, the fish being first hooked about 8 P.M. This is the largest fish ever caught with rod and reel on the Pacific Coast, and considering the lateness of the hour and the lightness of the line will be sure to attract world-wide notice in sporting circles. The world’s record up to date is 235 pounds with a 21-thread line and a stiff Tarpon rod.”

    July 25, 1896 [SFCall]: “Avalon, Catalina Island, July 22. Experienced fishermen unite in declaring that not for seven years have the jewfish been biting so voraciously at Catalina Island as this season. Some phenomenal catches have been recorded within the past two days. In the past twenty-four hours no less than six enormous jewfish have been brought in, two of which are record-breakers. The largest of these, weighing 405 pounds, was taken yesterday morning by Frank S. Daggett of Pasadena. The other, which scaled at exactly 400 pounds, was taken by F. W. Matthiessen of Ventura county…”

    August 18, 1896 [LAT/SCat]: “A most interesting exhibit is being prepared here for the Field Columbian Museum in Chicago by a member of that institution, Ernest Newell Smith of Chicago, who has skinned the enormous 400-pound jewfish taken a few days ago preparatory to shipping it Chicago to be stuffed and placed on exhibition in the museum…”

    September 2, 1895 [SFC]: “Catalina Island Sport. Three Monster Jewfish Landed by a Trio of Fishermen. Avalon, Catalina Island, Cal., Sept. 1.—The largest catch of jewfish of the season was taken this week by a trio of gentlemen who were fishing beyond Church Rock. Within an hour they hooked three monster jewfish, the largest of which surpassed in size any taken this season, weighing 320 pounds—just five pounds more than the monster taken by W. A. Carnes, the San Francisco angler, in July. This fish was taken by W. E. Winslow of Santa Ana, and measured six feet four inches in length.”

    December 22, 1896 [LAT/SB]: “The Larcos caught another large jewfish in the channel this morning, weighing 250 pounds.”

    December 2, 1897 [LAT/SB]: “Captain A. Larco netted two jewfish yesterday. One of them weighed 280 pounds, the other 260.”

    December 12, 1897 [LAT/SB]: “A jewfish weighing 350 pounds was caught in the channel by Larco, the fish merchant, last Thursday.”

    May 9, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “A jewfish over eight feet long was caught in one of the Larco’s nets near the kelp yesterday.”

    August 17, 1898 [LAT]: “Visitors at Catalina Island have been surfeited of late by catches of big tuna and jewfish, and they are now beginning to look for a larger game.”

    September 19, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “A jewfish weighing over 300 pounds was caught at the wharf Friday.”

    September 20, 1899 [LAH]: “The jewfish which Mr. T. S. Manning brought in Sunday evening makes the world's record for heaviest game fish ever taken on rod and reel. The monster tipped the scale at 370 pounds, and fought hard two hours before coming to gaff.”

    January 22, 1900 [SBI]: “Genie Larco returned from the Channel Islands this morning in his gasoline launch with one of the biggest catches of the year from the fishing grounds on the other side of the channel. In one day’s work over 600 pounds of rock cod and white fish were caught. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Larco landed a 400-pound jewfish with a rock cod line. The fine specimen was brought over and is now on exhibit at the Larco place on lower State Street.”

    August 19, 1900 [LAH]: “F. S. Schenck's good luck at Catalina. Beat world's record. Avalon, Catalina Island, Aug. 18.—The world's record for the heaviest fish landed with rod and reel was broken yesterday afternoon by F. S. Schenck, of New York, who brought in a jewfish, or black sea bass, weighing 384 pounds, which was captured on a 21-thread Cuttyhunk line, after a 20-minute fight. The record has previously been held by T. S. Manning, who, on September 16, last year, took a 370-pounder after a two hours' contest.”

    May 31, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. F. S. Scheck and wife of New York, who for several years have not failed to be here for the tuna fishing, arrived yesterday, and are domiciled at the Metropolis for the summer. Mr. Scheck holds the world’s record for black sea bass — 384 pounds.”

    June 14, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Three big fish were brought in yesterday. In addition to Mr. Steele’s 220 pound black sea bass, Arthur S. Auchenchloss of Redlands brought in one weighing 149 pounds, and F. S. Schenck, the veteran New York angler, showed the boys how to do it by capturing a monstrous fellow weighing 350 pounds. Mr. Schenck is attempting to beat his own record of 384 pounds, and also the world’s record of 410 pounds, which the Tuna Club did not recognize, because of a broken rod.”

    July 19, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. D. M. Linnard of Pasadena, out with Percy Neale this morning, brought in a mammoth jewfish which weighed 320 pounds. He was but forty-five minutes in landing it… The Kodak fiends had a picnic taking the big black sea bass last evening and this morning. It is estimated that more than 200 snap shots were taken of it.”

    July 21, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The size of black sea bass now being brought in is considered most remarkable. The last dozen or so have all run over 200 pounds. The latest catch chronicled is that of a 220 pound fish by H. Russell, out with the Adelaide.”

    July 26, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Two big black sea bass were brought in today. Dr. Milbank Johnson captured one weighing 230 pounds in forty-seven minutes, and E. E. Ford annexed one tipping the scales at 314 pounds. He was but twenty-three minutes in the fight.”

    July 30, 1901 [SFCall]: “Los Angeles, July 29 — Woman breaks record for big fish capture. Mrs. A. W. Barrett lands a specimen that weighs over four hundred pounds. The world's record for big fish taken under club considerations with rod and reel was smashed at Catalina Island Saturday by Mrs. A. W. Barrett, wife of the president of the Tuna Club. Her catch was a 416-pound Jew fish, measuring seven feet in length and five feet and eight inches in circumference, and was brought to gaff in three hours and five minutes.”

    July 30, 1901 [LAH]: “Mrs. E. N. Dickerson landed a black sea bass this morning that weighed 363 pounds. She was fifty-five minutes bringing her prize to gaff.”

    August 13, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Colonel R. F. Stocking, who caught the 430 pound black sea bass, came over yesterday for another round. Accompanied by Dr. W. E. Walsh, in the launch Nautilus, they went out to the banks in the morning and each of the gentlemen got his fish. Colonel Stocking’s weighed 222 pounds and was landed in forty-two minutes. Dr. Walsh’s weighed 250 pounds and it gave him enjoyment for three and one half hours before he made a landing… Dr. William Polk of New York… went to the Isthmus on a fishing trip Saturday and made a remarkable catch… it was found to be a huge black sea bass. No fish of that specimen has even been caught in that vicinity before, and it had departed from all precedent in taking a sardine bait.”

    August 22, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. F. S. Schunck brought in his twenty-eighth big black sea bass yesterday. It weighs 230 pounds and required but twenty-one minutes to land… General and Mrs. Barrett left today. Mrs. Barrett has spent three months at Hotel Metropole , while the General has made frequent visits, as his duties as Bank Commissioner would permit, and both have achieved fame as anglers, Mrs. Barrett holding the world’s record for big fish.”

    September 13, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. R. H. Lloyd and G. C. Law were out with Jim Gardner yesterday, and captured two huge black sea bass, weighing 203 and 213 pounds, which were captured in twenty and forty-five minutes respectively.”

    November 2, 1901 [LAT/SB]: “A jewfish weighing 250 pounds was caught in the channel yesterday afternoon by Piano Larco.”

    January 3, 1902 [SBMP]: “An immense jewfish weighing 175 pounds was caught yesterday morning in Larco's fish net. It was landed by the men with some difficulty and taken to Larco's fish market, where it was dressed and placed in the local market for sale. The largest jewfish ever caught in this locality was landed by E. G. Larco over a year ago while fishing with a line at Santa Cruz Island.”

    September 12, 1902 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Nearly all the launches in the bay started out early this morning for the jewfish grounds, to engage in the jewfish tournament. The Ramona and the Meteor carried parties to the scene, which is around the south end of the island, and up to a point almost directly opposite the site of Avalon. The boats left there to return at 10:30, and up to that time but one fish had been landed.”

    September 20, 1902 [SBMP]: “The Larco brothers caught a 300 pound jewfish yesterday.”

    December 23, 1902 [SBMP]: “Yesterday a huge jewfish was caught in Larco's net and successfully landed. It weighed 436 pounds and measured over seven feet in length.”

    December 25, 1902 [LAT/SMa]: “A jewfish weighing over 400 pounds was caught by a Portuguese fisherman named John Larco in the channel this week. This is one of the largest fish ever caught in these waters and it was with great difficulty that Larco landed it.”

    January 22, 1904 [SBI]: “Ogenio Larco returned from the Channel Islands this morning in his gasoline launch with one of the biggest catches yet brought over from the fishing grounds on the other side of the channel. In one day’s work, over 600 pounds of rock cod and white fish were caught. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Larco landed a 400-pound jewfish with a rock cod line. The fine specimen was brought over and is now on exhibit at the Larco place on lower State Street.”

    January 23, 1904 [SBMP]: “One of the biggest fish ever caught in these waters was captured yesterday by Ugenio Larco, who has been on a fishing expedition to the islands. Mr. Larco's catch was a jewfish weighing over 400 pounds.”

    January 23, 1904 [LAT/SB]: “A remarkable catch was made yesterday by S. Larco, a local fisherman. Larco captured a 400-pound sea bass, said to be the largest fish of the kind captured in these waters. Fishing in the channel has been remarkably good for several days and fishing parties from the hotels have made phenomenal catches.”

    April 26, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Marchall Darrah of New York went after jewfish this morning, and while he secured but a small one, he demonstrated that the time is ripe for jewfishing. His fish weighed 99 pounds. He was out with T. D. Clark in the Rival.”

    May 4, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. C. H. Harding and son, Fred L. Harding, varied their fishing this morning by going after jewfish. A big hungry specimen came along and gobbled up both their baits in a twinkling and started off with them. Short work was made of him, however, and in fifteen minutes his big carcass was aboard the launch. He weighed 300 pounds. ”

    May 6, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. J. W. Northrop of Chicago joined the rank of the jewfishers yesterday, going up to Long Point, where a school of the great black bass family was found to have its home. His first strike netted him a 180-pound fish. That did not fill the bill with him and he made another try, taking a shark weighing 186 pounds.”

    May 13, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The jewfish tournament came off today, according to schedule, the anglers doing their part, but the big game balked and would have no part in it.”

    May 23, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. C. H. Petrie, who a few weeks who took the largest jewfish of the year, yesterday added to his laurels by taking the largest white sea bass of the season. It weighed 56 pounds.”

    May 23, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The editor of The Anglers’ News and Sea Fishers’ Journal, of London, England, has sent the Santa Catalina Island Tuna Club a copy of his journal of date of March 26, containing a list of the record fishes caught last year all over the world. As might be expected, Catalina heads the list with Edward Beach Llewellyn's 425-pound black sea bass, and the next twenty would also belong here were they all recorded…”

    May 28, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The jewfish tournament yesterday was interfered with by rough water… Charles Ironmonger got a 200-pound jewfish. The fishers, while disappointed in not getting more fish, were compensated in some degree by the grandeur of the scene about Seal and Church Rocks.”

    May 29, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The committee in charge of the prizes for the jewfish tournament of Thursday last awarded the prizes last evening as follows: Anglers’ prizes for greatest number of pounds of jewfish, Charles Ironmonger… Claude M. Heineman for first jewfish…”

    June 11, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Mrs. C. A. Petrie is proving herself one of the finest sportswomen who has ever cast a line at Avalon. For the past week she has taken every day a catch ranging from half a dozen to fifteen yellowtail and white sea bass, and yesterday she duplicated her jewfish exploit of a few weeks ago when she took a 204-pounder. Strange to relate her black sea bass of yesterday, taken with the Helen, Harry Doss skipper, weighed exactly in the same notch with the previous one—204 pounds.”

    June 13, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Yesterday was ‘jewfish day’… There were six of these big monsters hung up on the racks, aggregating half a ton, and they were a sight to see. Four of these were brought in by the launch Katherine, J. W. Northrop, H. W. Meyst and George Johnson handling the rods. Their largest fish weighed 280 pounds, and it was taken in fifty minutes; the next largest, 226 pounds, time twenty-five minutes; third, 118 pounds, time twenty minutes; fourth, 100 pounds, time thirty minutes. In company with the Katherine was Gilmore Sharp with his launch, from which Mr. and Mrs. Brown had all the luck from this boat, landing a 205-pound fish entirely unaided. To round out the half dozen, H. E. Smith, who was out with Tad Gray, rounded up a 180-pound fish, which he conquered in twenty-five minutes.”

    June 16, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Claude M. Heineman, a steamship man of New York, who is taking a rest at Catalina, succeeded in getting a 176-pound black sea bass. He was with Captain Adams of the launch Myrtle. He conquered the big fish in just twenty minutes.”

    June 25, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Another jewfish tournament was held yesterday, and as the adult fishes would not bite, some of the anglers got in and ‘robbed the incubator.’ Only two of the species were taken. C. A. Petri got one weighing 76 pounds and C. G. Curtis took one weighing 46. A committee waited on the anglers to compel them to return the babies to their nest.”

    June 30, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Mrs. A. W. Barrett yesterday brought a 242-pound black sea bass to gaff in eleven minutes. Mrs. Barrett holds the record of the world for big fish, having taken a 416-pound fish unaided. H. E. Sargent, Jr. did things to the jewfish yesterday. He was out with Chappie and tallied with three monsters, 312, 190 and 118 pounds, respectively. C. G. Curtis, with the Magic Isle, corralled a 250-pound black sea bass this morning.”

    July 1, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. H. E. Smith of New Your tallied two more big black sea bass yesterday, making a total of seven of these big fish he has taken in the three weeks he has been here. His catch yesterday consisted of a 290-pound and a 145-pound fish.”

    July 2, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Claude M. Heineman, one of the owners of the Ward line of steamships out of New York, who has been on the island some time building up wasted energies, yesterday broke the season’s record for black sea bass. There have been a large number of this species of big fish brought in this season, but all save one has been below 300 pounds, and the greater number have been below 200, which makes a small average for this mammoth fish. Mr. Heineman caught a 350-pounder, and for three hours and three minutes the angler worked as though he was single-handed heaving the anchor of one of his liners. The fish towed him about at will, and when brought to gaff they were several miles from their starting point.”

    July 6, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. H. E. Smith, with Tad Gray took another black sea bass yesterday of 210 pounds, which he brought to gaff in nine minutes.”

    July 14, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. C. W. Heineman had a narrow escape today from again holding the season’s record for the largest black sea bass. When H. E. Smith, a few days ago, wrested the honor from him he quietly remarked that he would have a try again. He did so this morning going out with ‘Chappie.’ He caught a bass weighing 401 pounds, just one pound short of trying Smith’s record. It required an hour and fifty-five minutes to land the huge creature.”

    July 15, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Dr. D. J. Hammond of Chicago, with Win Toland, this morning took a black sea bass weighing 158 pounds in twenty-eight minutes.”

    July 18, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Three big jewfish ornament the fish racks this afternoon… 220 pounds… 244 pounds… 238 pounds…”

    July 24, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Dr. L. M. Taylor of Washington, D. C. caught his third jewfish this morning.”

    July 26, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Fred L. Kramer of Los Angeles, passing his vacation at Camp Sunshine, Avalon, went fishing with Dode Weibers and took a baby jewfish weighing 58 - pounds.”

    July 29, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. There was a jewfish tournament this morning in which twenty boats participated. Three big fish were taken by the following persons: Thomas McD. Patton, with Perry Neale, boatman, took first prize with a 230-pound fish, an abalone shell watch fob to Mr. Patton and a greenheart rod to Mr. Neale; W. M. Hunt, Jr. and Hawley Farnsworth took second prize with a 153-pound fish, and abalone shell clock to Hunt and a tuna gaff to Farnsworth; Dr. L. P. Kaull and George Michaelis came in third with a 124-pound fish, a souvenir spoon to Kaull and a Rabbeth drag to Michaelis.”

    August 7, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. G. H. Monroe of Fresno this morning took a 214-pound jewfish.”

    August 10, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. F. W. Boardman, with Harry Doss as boatman, captured a 270-pound jewfish yesterday. It gave him a hard fight for fifty minutes.”

    August 12, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Mrs. A. W. Barrett had as her guests out fishing this morning Miss Gillingham and Will Colmery. Miss Gillingham had a rather queer experience. She had hooked a yellowtail and had it well in hand when a huge jewfish appeared and with a single gulp swallowed her hapless yellowtail. This was more than the young lady had bargained for — two fish at one time and on a single hook, and the huge creature was rather more than she cared battle with. The boatman came to her relief, but the jewfish, after tugging for some minutes at the line concluded there was something wrong about his lunch and spat out the yellowtail. E. E. Lerry brought in a 175-pound jewfish this morning… C. N. Heinemann, auditor of the Ward line of steamships… for a brief period held the record for the largest black sea bass of the year, the fish weighing 401 pounds.”

    August 13, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. W. C. Colson of Fresno, along with boatman Chappie, brought to gaff a 370-pound jewfish in fifty-five minutes.”

    August 18, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. R. D. Middleton today took his third jewfish within three days. It weighed 300 pounds.”

    August 20, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. H. C. Heinchen today took two big black sea bass, one of which came near the record mark of the season, tipping the scales at 400 pounds. The time was eleven minutes.”

    August 23, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Arthur Wood, the angler of the Marine Band, brought in a 255-pound black sea bass today, making the capture in eighteen minutes.”

    August 28, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Philo L. Lindley this morning caught a black sea bass weighing 334 pounds.”

    July 3, 1905 John I. Perkins caught a 428-pound world record black sea bass at Santa Catalina Island, which took him 57 minutes to bring in. [postcard]

    August 13, 1905 [LAT/VC]: “Postmaster Webster is having considerable fun in his own way catching jewfish in the channel and in the neighborhood of Anacapa Island. He is an old-time fisherman, born on the island of Put-In-Bay, Lake Erie, near Sandusky, Ohio, the world’s greatest freshwater fish market. As a boy and man he followed the fishing business for years and knew all there was to know of it… He concluded his last trip to the islands in the early part of the week, to try float-fishing, and accordingly took a half dozen empty five-gallon cans and tied lines to them twenty-five feet in length. To the lines were attached stout shark hooks, and each hook was baited with a live two-pound fish of any variety. Then the postmaster allowed his boat and floats to drift with the tides and winds. It was not long before one of his cans began a lively dancing on the waters—so lively that it was almost impossible to handle it. Webster had dreams of a great shark on his hook. When the can quieted the postmaster gathered it in and pulled up the line. He found a jewfish well hooked and succeeded in landing him. He weighed, it is estimated, nearly 175 pounds. Webster captured another in the same way. He weighed as much. Since then he has taken another trip to the islands and captured another fish, after having one of his huge hooks straightened out by a sea monster which he thinks must have weighed a ton. The postmaster is now arranging for a third trip to try float fishing, which he says is the finest sport he ever had.”

    August 13, 1905 [SBMP]: “H. T. Kendall will go out again this morning with Mr. Larco after jewfish. He will try to catch one off Montecito, as they have been reported to be there in large numbers. He sails in the Nina.”

    January 3, 1906 [SBMP]: “An immense jewfish weighing 175 pounds was caught yesterday morning in Larco’s fish net. It was landed by the men with some difficulty and taken to Larco’s fish market, where it was dressed and placed in the local market for sale. The largest jewfish ever caught in this locality was landed by E. G. Larco over a year ago while fishing with a line at Santa Cruz Island.”

    March 10, 1906 [SBMP]: “F. Opple of Summerland caught a monster jewfish on Thursday. It became entangled in his fishnets and was landed with difficulty. It tipped the scales at 250 pounds.”

    October 15, 1907 [SBI]: “While fishing for rock cod with a small hook and line near Santa Cruz Island yesterday, J. Larco of this city pulled in a jewfish weighing 275 pounds. It was a surprise to both fisherman and fish, and for a time it was a toss-up whether Mr. Larco should haul the big fellow into the boat or be by it hauled into the channel. Mr. Larco is at the island crawfishing.”

    January 5, 1908 [SBMP]: “Gets monster jewfish in net. Marine curiosity weighing 400 pounds caught opposite lighthouse. Paul Delaini, a local fisherman, succeeded yesterday, with the help of a sailor, after a desperate struggle during which the enormous brute came near upsetting the boat, for it weighs nearly 400 pounds and is one of the biggest seen on this coast for a long time. It was caught in a net…”

    November 8, 1908 [SBMP]: “A 400 pound jewfish was landed yesterday by Frank Marincovitch, in a trammel net directly off the Country Club. It was one of the largest caught in the channel in a long time. More than fifty have been caught during the last year.”

    August 13, 1908 [LAT]: “Captain Bay Webster of the sloop Anacapa yesterday brought over two jewfish from Anacapa Island. The largest weighed 150 pounds. They were taken on a line attached to a five-gallon gasoline can used as a buoy.”

    August 19, 1910 [OC]: “Ex-postmaster Webster, enjoying his first vacation in years, has been fishing in the channel, and on Thursday sent home by his son, Bay Webster, two elegant jewfish, one weighing 100 pounds and the other 150 pounds, besides a lot of smaller fish.”

    September 29, 1914 [TI/Avalon]: “Black sea bass. Largest of the season — Ben Williams, Los Angeles, 282.”

    March 23, 1914 [SBDNI]: “L. D. Mosher of Mosher & Freeze, the auto supply firm, is spending his vacation with Captain Ira Eaton on Santa Cruz Island. He was seeking quiet and rest, but found neither. In fact, he is having a very strenuous time. Saturday he caught scores of rock cod, then came a succession of bites, and in the turmoil that followed he began to imagine he had hooked a whale. It wasn’t, but proved to be the biggest jewfish ever caught in these waters. A block and tackle were required to haul the fish aboard the launch, and when it was weighed it was found to tip the scales at 225 pounds. He brought the fish to the city yesterday, and then returned to the island, where he is now hunting wild boars.”

    January 21, 1915 [SBDNI]: ““Sweeping changes in game laws are planned… Black bass — May 1 to December 1 (no sale)…”

    April 27, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “A black sea bass weighing 230 pounds was caught Sunday by Captain Enos Vera and Captain Roy Staples. The catch was made near Seal Rocks.”

    June 16, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “R. C. Mankowski of New York, has the honor of catching the biggest black sea bass of the season, while the fishing from the launch Pirate, Captain Enos Vera, last Thursday. The monster weighed 360 pounds, and with light tackle and expert angling, was brought to gaff in one hour and 45 minutes.”

    July 20, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “The season’s record black sea bass was brought to gaff Sunday by K. W. Adams of New Mexico, while fishing from the launch Myrtle, Captain H. Stoughton. The battle royal lasted 50 minutes, and when weighed on the official scales tipped the beam at 416 pounds.”

    April 4, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “Some recollections of the Avalon of twenty-five years ago… Mexican Joe was the leading fisherman and guide and was much sought after by tourists and others coming here to fish and shoot…”

    May 30, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “After fighting a monster jewfish for over two hours Sunday, Harry Clark of Los Angeles brought it to gaff on board the launch Myrtle, Captain H. Stoughton. It weighed 395 pounds and is the largest fish of this variety landed in two years. Three other black sea bass 210, 99 and 88 pounds respectively were also landed by angler Clark.”

    August 15, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “World’s record black sea bass, weighing 493 pounds, was caught by N. A. Howard, of Piedmont, California.”

    March 12, 1918 [TI/Avalon]: “Silver Canyon — Almost opposite Avalon. Favorite for goat shooting. Also at present the favorite grounds for the anglers after jewfish.”

    July 22, 1918 [OC]: “A ‘light-hearted’ party, so described by one of them, composed of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Eastwood and daughter Leona, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Eastwood, Mrs. Charles Touchette and Mr. and Mrs. F. P. Nicholas returned from Catalina Island yesterday evening. All report a delightful time spent at California’s famous resort. J. H. Eastwood boasts also of hooking a giant jewfish weighing 189-1/2 pounds caught off Catalina’s eastern coast after one hour and 55 minutes gallant fighting, and not only boasts but supports his assertions with a Kodak view. All three gentlemen of the party insist that one day’s catch aggregated 200 pounds or more, but Frank Nicholas was in that party, you know.”

    October 31, 1918 [SBDNI]: “Albert Newton, well known local fisher, holds the channel record for jewfish, having just landed a monster that tipped the scales at 460 pounds. ‘That was the biggest jewfish caught in these waters as far back as the mind of man runneth,’ said Captain George Gourley this morning. ‘Newton hooked his prize just off the wharf and played her in a skiff until he could pull the fish to the surface alongside his boat and gaff her.’ Captain Gourley states that the jewfish is native to these waters, so that any old time a year fishermen are in line for hooking the marine monsters. During the past few months there have been very large fellows landed.”

    August 26, 1973 [SBNP/SHR]: In October 1918, “Albert Newton, well-known local fisherman, landed a monster jewfish that tipped the scales at 460 pounds. That was the biggest jewfish caught in these waters as far back as the mind of man runneth, said Captain George Gourley. Newton hooked his prize just off the wharf, and played her in a skiff until he could pull the fish to the surface alongside his boat and gaff her. Captain Gourley states that a jewfish is native to these waters, so that any old time of year fishermen are in line for hooking the marine giants. During the past few months many very large fellows have been landed. In June 1919, Joe Foxen landed a 485-pound monster from the wharf. This specimen was the 10th immense jewfish he had caught. One of the big fellows Foxen landed, he sold for $18 in pound lots retail, got $1 for the skin, and $2.50 for the head. In August, 1922 W. E. Dewey landed a 428 pound jewfish off the lighthouse.”

    July 6, 1932 [TI/Avalon]: “The old adage about the sailor on his vacation going for a row on the park lake is well illustrated by Lester E. Smith, popular captain of the County patrol boat Cobra. Smith, or as he is known to his friends, ‘Smitty, is on his vacation. So he is spending it in his boat fishing off Catalina. But the best of it is that on Sunday he took his Dad out with him and then, just to show that he really knew how to fish, caught two giant black sea bass. Not one, but two, and good ones at that. The first one taken weighed 169 pounds and the second 444 pounds. This is said to be the second largest ‘jewfish’ taken at the island. The two fish proved too much to get aboard his small boat, so he towed them into port where he stole the show from the other fishermen who had been vainly combing the ocean in quest of the elusive tuna.”

    August 10, 1939 [TI/Avalon]: “Charles A. Graham, of Montebello, California, fishing from the cruiser Maimee, Captain Earl Wood in command, caught three giant black sea bass last week, weighing 310, 312 and 236 pounds.”

    Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA 2020

    March 6, 2020 [Vancouver Island Free Daily]: “Can giant sea bass make a comeback? Biologists release nearly 200 baby giant sea bass into the Pacific in bid to save endangered species. LOS ANGELES — A team of scuba-diving biologists has released nearly 200 baby giant sea bass into the murky depths of Santa Monica Bay where the critically endangered fish will grow to be the size of Volkswagen Beetles. The captive-bred infants released Wednesday quickly adapted to their new home, a submarine canyon about 30 feet beneath the waves, where the currents are rich in nutrients and tiny shrimp, a favorite food for the bass. The 4-inch infants —adorned with orange, blue and gray colors — can reach 560 pounds, 7 feet in length and live to be 75 years old. They are also as imperiled as black rhinos. Giant sea bass were among the most overfished species in the 1930s. Today, fewer than 500 breeding adults cruise Central and Southern California’s coastal waters, according to a recent genetic study. “Total success!” Michael Couffer, a biologist and underwater photographer involved in the reintroduction effort, said with a smile immediately after he rose to the surface. “They were behaving as though they had been raised in the wild instead of in captivity,” he said. “Some were chasing each other around. Others seemed to be getting ready to start looking for food.” Among those expectantly observing the effort from the deck of a nearby boat was Crislyn McKerron, operations director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. “We’re incredibly proud,” she said. The unprecedented release of so many giant sea bass was the brainchild of Larry Allen, a professor of biology at Cal State University Northridge, who hopes they usher in a new generation of ancient mariners drifting between coastal kelp forests and deep blue waters hundreds of miles offshore. Their very existence came by way of a biological surprise in Allen’s laboratory. In May, an adult male and two adult female giant sea bass that were under study spawned an unintended bounty of thousands of eggs. Larvae hatched from those eggs went on to become several hundred pampered babies in carefully monitored tanks at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. Roughly 200 of the brood were later shared with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. In captivity, they feasted on a daily cocktail of squid, sardines, mackerel and clams — followed by dessert: shrimp. “Shrimp is always served last because it’s like ice-cream to baby giant sea bass,” said Andres Carillo of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. “They’re like little kids: If you offer giant seabass shrimp first, they won’t eat anything else.” In collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Long Beach, 180 baby giant sea bass reared at the San Pedro facility were released roughly 100 yards from the beach on Wednesday. Another 175 from the Long Beach aquarium are expected to be released next week. Their parents, each weighing about 200 pounds, were tagged and then released into the ocean in October. Aquarium officials asked that the exact locations not be made public to improve the fish’s odds of survival. But with luck and stealth, the baby giants “will grow quickly,” said Nicole Leier, senior aquarist in charge of exhibits at the Aquarium of the Pacific, who was among a dozen staffers who assisted the effort Wednesday. “In 10 years, they’ll be up to about 100 pounds. In 15 years, they’ll reach maturity.” In 2016, the Aquarium of the Pacific became the first public facility of its kind to spawn and raise a giant sea bass from larva to juvenile, providing a vital glimpse into the early life of the species. In the 1930s, full-grown giant sea bass caught by deep-sea charters attracted large crowds at local docks. Calls for giant sea bass conservation grew in the 1990s, after hook-and-line fishery, divers armed with crossbows and commercial gill-netters had nearly wiped out them out. The species is categorized as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation and Nature. Scientists say they need more and better data to recover the species, individuals of which carry unique spot patterns that can be read like a barcode. In recent years, scuba divers from the University of Santa Barbara and the Aquarium of the Pacific have been photographing giant sea bass near Santa Catalina Island’s city of Avalon. The photos are archived in a Spotting Giant Sea Bass identification website that makes matches using pattern-recognition algorithms first developed by astrophysicists to spot patterns in star constellations. Scientists say the bright colors of the juveniles blend in well with the undersea background, providing camouflage from predators large enough to consume them. The color pattern will change as the fish age. Climate change, however, remains a serious challenge to giant sea bass and all other marine species. Marine heat waves have doubled in frequency since 1982, and recent reports showed that global ocean temperatures in 2019 were the warmest on record. “There aren’t many juveniles of this endangered species in the sea anymore,” Carillo said, “so they’re facing an ocean of trouble on the road to adulthood.”

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