White Sea Bass Program

SWYC Anglers are proud to support the restoration of the White Sea Bass through its Grow Out Facility & Project. Through this Marine Life Enhancement Program, more than 50,000 white sea bass have been released to the wild.

WHITE GROW OUT PENS (Please do not open these pens.)

The White Sea Bass Grow Out Pens, at the beginning of "B" Dock, are an ongoing research project at SWYC.   Please do not open the pen covers or remove any of the fish.   Each fish has a tracking chip implanted in their cheek.  Prior to placing them in the pens,a total fish count is taken.  Upon release, they are counted again.  Any disturbance of these pens will change the dynamics of the study.  Thank you for your cooperation.

In the early 1960s, the California Department of Fish and Game instituted the Oceans Resources Enhancement & Hatchery Program (OREHP) to begin restoring fisheries that have been depleted by commercial over-fishing, the use of gill nets, and habitat loss. As part of the state's new initiative, the Hubbs Sea World Research Institute built an experimental marine fish hatchery in Carlsbad, CA. This pilot project was created in order to determine the feasibility of culturing ecologically respectable white in captivity, as well as to assess the marketability of these fish. The white sea bass was selected as the primary target species for this program due to both its popularity on dinner plates and its depleted status.

The funding to support the majority of OREHP's stock enhancement research comes from the sale of recreational and commercial fishing licenses. 

To support large-scale experimental restocking efforts, the Leon Raymond Hubbard, Jr. Marine Fish Hatchery in Carlsbad was constructed and dedicated in 1995. This facility is capable of producing more than 350,000 juvenile white sea bass annually. The hatchery is a unique facility that blends scientific research to improve upon a depleted fishery and broaden our knowledge of the white sea bass (croaker) species and its life history. 

At the hatchery, HSWRI (Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute) breeds white sea bass and raises them from tiny eggs to fingerlings, about three inches long. Juvenile white sea bass go from a diet of brine shrimp to artificial pellets in order to get ready for their time in California Grow Out facilities. 

All fish raised by HSWRI are tagged in the cheek with coded metal wires. Fisherman are encouraged to cut off and turn in the heads (at designated locations) of all caught white sea bass as the heads provide valuable information with regard to restocking efforts, and survivorship of hatchery raised fish verses non-hatchery raised fish. 

Once the fingerlings reach three inches in length and are tagged, they are ready to be transported to Grow Out facilities. Keeping to their natural hunting patterns, our white sea bass are fed every three hours with automatic feeders. 

In three to four months, the fish nearly quadruple in size, from approximately three inches to almost twelve! Ten inches is the minimum size for release. Once the fish are released, they are free to grow and reproduce in the wild. 

SWYC Grow Out Pen Project & Facility:

In 1994, SWYC Anglers went to the SWYC Board of Directors with a plan to build a White Sea Bass Grow Out Facility. It took approximately 18 months to raise the funds, get the permits, and build the facility. Funds raised were inclusive of profits from our Bottom Fishing Tournament. 

In 1996, with the efforts of SWYC Anglers Bob Woodard, Paul Doster, Harry Okuda, Gene Geiger, Mark Francis, and several others, the White Sea Bass Grow Out Project for SWYC began. Angler Paul Doster was involved in the installation and maintenance of the infrastructure and he also designed and installed the pump system, piping, and electrical requirements. Paul still maintains that equipment as needed. Several items were donated including the fiberglass tank for the fish. Angler Gene Geiger is in charge of our Marine Life Enhancement Program and has managed this project since its inception more than a decade ago. 

Our first batch of fingerling white sea bass was received on August 6, 1996. On November 1, 1996, there were 1,749 healthy fish released. Within the first five years of the project, SWYC Anglers released 12,328 fish. By the end of 2017, our SWYC Grow Out Facility has released almost 52,000 healthy white sea bass! 

Before release, each fish counted, visually inspected for abnormalities, and random fin clippings are taken to analyze for bacterial infections. If healthy, authorization is given for release and only healthy fish are released. 

For the success of this project and the safety of the fish, ongoing general maintenance of these pens is necessary. Divers clean the pens prior to receiving new batches of fingerling. Automatic feeders, pumps, and general equipment have to be maintained and replaced, as needed. Tanks are removed for repair and maintenance as required. 

As of 2013, our Marine Life Enhancement Program is currently managed by SWYC Anglers Gene Geiger, Larry George and Lynn Hull. When fish are received, as well as when they are released, several anglers volunteer their time to assist this process to help ensure safe handling of our white sea bass. 

When we have fish in our pens, they must be maintained and monitored daily. As a result, we have people we employ to provide that service. As needed, chain link tops are replaced on each of the three gates. Our last chain link replacement was provided by Angler Tom Miller. Canvas tops are attached to the gates to protect the fish and they are replaced as needed. It is indeed a celebration when our fish are of size and ready to be released into the wild to grow into adulthood and reproduce! SWYC Anglers are proud to be associated with this Marine Life Enhancement Program.

With a 92% survival rate, we have one of the highest survival rates of all White Sea Bass Grow Out Pens!