The Kelp bass, commonly named “Calico” bass  is most often found in and around the kelp forest and around rocky structure and will rise to topwater presentations as well as inhale subsurface offerings.  


It can reach a length of 29 12 inches (75 cm), and, being a slow grower, live for as long as 34 years

The kelp bass, a member of a large group of sea bass,  which inhabit the eastern Pacific, is a robust fish with a typical, well known bass shape. Most anglers in its territory readily recognize the kelp bass as it is one of the most important targets among southern California’s light tackle anglers. 

IGFA World Record (all tackle) 14 lb 7 oz. 


Gear Guide: 

Rod: 7 to 10 wt fast action rod 

Reel: Large arbour reel with smooth drag 

Line:  Floating and intermediate sinking to full sink 300 grain fly lines are both great. I used a sinking line with most success – casting over boulders and rocky locations – the full sink allows the fly to get in front of the bass in the deeper torrid waters.   

Leader / Tippet: 15 to 30 lb tapered leader is commonly used. Some anglers run a straight 30 lb mono (about 5 feet) and connect tippet that. 


 Fly patterns available that imitate baitfish and squid and almost all of them will work.   The size and color of the offering is usually more important than the specific pattern. 

Colours of bright green with white worked well for me on size 2 through 3/0 hooks. When in doubt use a clouser minnow fly – that fly should always be in your fly box. For topwater the crease fly works well and some poppers in 2 to 5 inches in length should do. 


My early am bass off the shores if Southern California!