Rockfish identification

Inshore species

Inshore species

Rockfish Anatomy
Anatomy of a Rockfish
  • Mostly found in shallow depths but range from 0-300 fathoms (0-600 meters)
  • Adults live close to the bottom usually in rocky areas with high relief bottoms
  • Some species like to hide in rocky crevices
Species name Identifying features
Blue Rockfish

Deacon Rockfish (Sebastes diaconus)

  • up to 53 cm
  • body blue to black with dark stripes on forehead
  • belly pinkish-white
  • body deep with round head
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Black Rockfish

Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops)

  • up to 63 cm
  • body black to grey
  • belly is pale pink to white
  • fins are dark with black spots
  • anal fin edge rounded and slants anteriorly
  • symphyseal knob absent
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Brown Rockfish

Brown Rockfish (Sebastes auriculatus)

  • up to 56cm
  • body brown with dark blotches
  • fins have a pinkish tinge
  • dark blotch on gill cover
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
China Rockfish

China Rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus)

  • up to 43 cm
  • body black mottled with yellow, white and pale blue
  • broad yellow stripe starting at 3rd dorsal spine and running along lateral line
  • symphyseal knob small
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Copper Rockfish

Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus)

  • up to 66 cm
  • body olive-brown to copper with pink or yellow blotches
  • belly is pale pink to white
  • body can be dark brown
  • 2 bands radiating from eyes
  • 2/3rds of lateral line is pale
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Quillback Rockfish

Quillback Rockfish (Sebastes maliger)

  • up to 61 cm
  • body dark brown to black mottled with orange-yellow
  • appears to have freckles
  • dorsal fin is high and deeply incised
  • symphyseal knob absent
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Tiger Rockfish

Tiger Rockfish (Sebastes nigrocinctus)

  • up to 61 cm
  • body white to red with 5 dark red or black narrow vertical bands
  • 2 bands radiating from eyes
  • body can be brownish-red with black vertical bands
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Yelloweye Rockfish

Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus)

  • up to 100 cm
  • body yellow to red
  • eyes are bright yellow
  • fins usually have black tips
  • lateral line is light
  • juveniles red with 2 light bands
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • rough ridges above the eyes
Shelf species

Shelf species

  • Mostly found in intermediate depths but range from 0-300 fathoms (0-600 meters)
  • Adults live near the bottom
  • More likely to be schooling fish
  • Most numerous near the edge of the continental shelf
Species name Identifying features
Bank Rockfish

Bank Rockfish (Sebastes rufus)

  • up to 51 cm
  • body light red to grey
  • fins have black membrane
  • lateral line clear to pink
  • bands radiating from eye
  • small mouth
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Bocaccio Rockfish

Bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis)

  • up to 91 cm
  • body dark orange-red to olive brown fading to pink on belly
  • lower jaw long projecting past upper jaw
  • symphyseal knob absent
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Canary Rockfish

Canary Rockfish (Sebastes pinnigers)

  • up to 76 cm
  • body mottled orange to yellow on grey background
  • lateral line is pale
  • fins are bright orange
  • 3 orange bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Chilipepper

Chilipepper (Sebastes goodei)

  • up to 59 cm
  • body red to copper pink fading to white on the belly
  • lateral line is red
  • body slender
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Dusky Rockfish

Dusky Rockfish (Sebastes ciliatus)

  • up to 53 cm
  • body grey to light brown
  • body can be almost black
  • belly grey to pink
  • anal fin edge vertical
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Greenstriped Rockfish

Greenstriped Rockfish (Sebastes elongatus)

  • up to 43 cm
  • body pink to yellow with 3-4 horizontal green stripes
  • belly pink to white
  • body slender
  • caudal fin has green stripes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Harlequin Rockfish

Harlequin Rockfish (Sebastes variegatus)

  • up to 37 cm
  • body red with dark blotches
  • dorsal fin membrane black
  • 2/3 lateral line pale
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd
Northern Rockfish

Northern Rockfish (Sebastes polyspinis)

  • up to 41 cm
  • body red mottled with grey and orange fading to white on belly
  • dark bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Puget Sound Rockfish

Puget Sound Rockfish (Sebastes emphaeus)

  • up to 18 cm
  • body slender and red to copper with dark blotches fading to white on belly
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd
Pygmy Rockfish

Pygmy Rockfish (Sebastes wilsoni)

  • up to 35 cm
  • body slender and pink to olive fading to white on belly
  • fins red to pink
  • vent located midway from pelvic and anal fins
  • symphyseal knob small
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Shortbelly Rockfish

Shortbelly Rockfish (Sebastes jordani)

  • up to 35 cm
  • body slender and pink to olive fading to white on belly
  • fins red to pink
  • vent located midway from pelvic and anal fins
  • symphyseal knob small
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Silvergray Rockfish

Silvergray Rockfish (Sebastes brevispinis)

  • up to 71 cm
  • body grey with silver sheen fading to light grey or pink on belly
  • mouth large with dark lips
  • symphyseal knob large
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Stripetail Rockfish

Stripetail Rockfish (Sebastes saxicola)

  • up to 41 cm
  • body pink to red with dusky blotches on back
  • caudal fin has green streaks
  • eyes large
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd
Widow Rockfish

Widow Rockfish (Sebastes saxicola)

  • up to 59 cm
  • body golden-brown to light-brown
  • fins with black membranes
  • anal fin edge slants posteriorly
  • pectoral fin extends past pelvic fin
  • symphyseal knob absent
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Yellowtail Rockfish

Yellowtail Rockfish (Sebastes flavidus)

  • up to 66 cm
  • body olive-green to greenbrown
  • fins have yellow tinge
  • anal fin edge almost vertical
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Slope species

Slope species

  • Mostly found in deeper depths but range from 50-1000 fathoms (100-2000 meters)
  • Most species are red in colour
  • Mixture of on-bottom, near-bottom and off-bottom schooling species
  • Most abundant in the upper regions of the continental shelf slope
Species name Identifying features
Aurora Rockfish

Aurora (Sebastes aurora)

  • up to 40 cm
  • body red to pink
  • head spines strong
  • upper jaw has lobes present
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd
Blackgill Rockfish

Blackgill Rockfish (Sebastes melanostomus)

  • up to 61 cm
  • body is red
  • gill cover edge is black
  • mouth is black inside
  • fins red with black tips
  • symphyseal knob large
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Darkblotched Rockfish

Darkblotched Rockfish (Sebastes crameri)

  • up to 58cm
  • body red to pink with 4-5 dark patches on back
  • body deep
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine shorter than 3rd
Longspine Thornyhead Rockfish

Longspine Thornyhead Rockfish (Sebastolobus altivelis)

  • up to 38 cm
  • body red with black on fins
  • head and eyes large
  • gill chamber dusky
  • 3rd dorsal spine is longest
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • pectoral fin notched
Pacific Ocean Perch

Pacific Ocean Perch (Sebastes alutus)

  • up to 55 cm
  • body red with dark olive blotches on back and caudal peduncle
  • fins red
  • symphyseal knob large
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Redbanded Rockfish

Redbanded Rockfish (Sebastes babcocki)

  • up to 65 cm
  • body light pink to red with 4 broad vertical red bands
  • 1-2 red bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Redstripe Rockfish

Redstripe Rockfish (Sebastes proriger)

  • up to 52 cm
  • body red mottled with olive and yellow with dark lips
  • lateral line red to pink
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Rosethorn Rockfish

Rosethorn Rockfish (Sebastes helvomaculatus)

  • up to 41 cm
  • body yellow to orange mottled with green
  • belly pink
  • 4-5 white-pink spots on back
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Rougheye Rockfish

Rougheye Rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus)

  • up to 97 cm
  • body red with dark blotches
  • fins red with black edges
  • 2-10 eye spines
  • lower jaw has small pores
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Sharpchin Rockfish

Sharpchin Rockfish (Sebastes zacentrus)

  • up to 45 cm
  • body red-pink to yellow
  • 5-6 dark markings on back
  • 2 bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd
Shortraker Rockfish

Shortraker Rockfish (Sebastes borealis)

  • up to 120 cm
  • body red to orange
  • lower jaw has large pores
  • gill rakers on first arch are short and stubby
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Shortspine Thornyhead

Shortspine Rockfish (Sebastolobus alascanusi)

  • up to 80 cm
  • body red with black on fins
  • head and eyes large
  • gill chamber pale
  • 4-5th dorsal spine is longest
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • pectoral fin notched
Splitnose Rockfish

Splitnose Rockfish (Sebastes diploproa)

  • up to 46 cm
  • body red fading to white on belly
  • fins red with black botches
  • upper lip has large notch
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
Vermilion Rockfish

Vermilion Rockfish (Sebastes miniatus)

  • up to 76 cm
  • body red mottled with grey
  • fins red with black edges
  • 3 orange bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
Yellowmouth Rockfish

Yellowmouth Rockfish (Sebastes reedi)

  • up to 58 cm
  • body red with yellow-orange
  • body has dark blotches
  • inside mouth black and yellow
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to mid orbit