Mystery fish

The following fish picture and information was sent to me by Snookie!

At the start of September I received a note and the following picture from Snookie which I have labeled the "mystery fish."

In her first dispatch, Snookie reported that a friend, Bob, took the picture of this fish at the Bolsa Chica area. The unusual fish, with rings around the eyes, and distinctive black bars, were about two feet long and schooling together with some white seabass in shallow waters in the area. Evidently they were feeding on smelt. At the time, Snookie and Bob were trying to identify the fish and asked for my assistance. However, like them, I was ultimately unsuccessful. In agreement with Snookie and Bob, it was decided to keep this matter quiet for a period of time until additional resources could be consulted.

A later correspondence from Snookie reported that "there are some that are almost all black but with those bars. Something has happened in that lagoon. They are definitely related to white sea bass."

Finally it was reported that the Fish and Game had made an "identification" - which may or may not be accurate, at least from my perspective. A note also gave permission from Bob to publish the picture on the site and share the information with the Pier Rats. So, Pier Rats, what do you suppose the fish to be and what are your comments? Let's hear from you on the Message Board!

By the way, I'll report the Fish and Game identification on the Board in a couple of weeks.

Follow-up Note: The fish pictured is a juvenile White Sea Bass