BD Outdoors

Tips to Catch More Calico Bass

Calico bass, or kelp bass, range up and down the West Coast from Mexico's Baja Peninsula all the way to the Columbia River in Oregon. While they are rare that far north, the species is most abundant in Southern California, thriving in the shallow waters along rocky structure and kelp beds. These slow-growing fish are aggressive feeders and a perfect cast in ideal conditions is almost always rewarded with a nice calico. But like any fishery, there are a few tricks and tips that will help you make every trip a successful outing.

According to bass man Duane Mellor, a deckhand with Seasons Sportfishing, calico bass live for three things — food, current and structure. "Find all three of those elements and you're going to find calico bass that want to bite," he says.

Keep it simple for fishing bass and don't overdo it. "You don't need a million different baits in your box to catch these fish. Find three or four baits that you are confident in and fish those," Duane says.


Anglers can target calico bass, also called California kelp bass, in and around kelp beds, along rock jetties or other structure in shallow water up to around 150 feet. While you can find calicos throughout the water column, the larger fish are typically caught in deeper water. Calicos grow slowly, taking up to five or six years to reach the minimum legal size limit of 12 inches.


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