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Black sea bass inhabit Atlantic coastal waters from the Gulf of Maine to the Florida Keys, concentrating in areas from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cape Canaveral, Florida. Two distinct stocks of black sea bass exist along the Atlantic coast with overlapping ranges. The northern stock migrates seasonally and spawns off of New England in the late summer. The southern stock spawns off of Chesapeake Bay in the early summer. Atemperate reef fish, black sea bass commonly inhabit rock bottoms near pilings, wrecks, and jetties. Black sea bass rely on their large mounth and swift ocean currents to catch prey, which include fish, crabs, mussels, and razor clams. Black sea bass summer in northern inshore waters at depths of less than 120 feet and winter in southern offshore waters at depths of 240 to 540 feet.

Young sea bass migrate into estuaries, bays and sounds. They seek shelter in a variety of habitats such as submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster reefs, and man-made structures.

Anglers commonly catch fish using squid and natural bait.