Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops)

Black Rockfish

Black Rockfish

  • Size 5–11 lb
  • Food Value Excellent
  • Game Qualities Good
  • Habitats Nearshore, Offshore
Black Bass, Seabass, Black Snapper, Pacific Ocean Perch, and occasionally even Red Snapper… this pelagic member of the Sebastes family has been named many different things by many different anglers! Something they can all agree on, however, is that a Black Rockfish fishing excursion offers up plenty of action at the end of a line. It’ll also leave you with some seriously tasty dinner options, too.

How Big?

The largest varieties usually weigh in at around 11 pounds, and can grow up to 26 inches in length. The California record currently stands at just over 9 pounds, but Black Rockfish are more commonly hooked in the 5 lb range.

Where and When

Black Rockfish can be found all throughout the Eastern Pacific’s waters, from the ocean surface to around 1,200 feet beneath. They tend to prefer shallower rocky waters and are a main staple of reefs, as well as deep banks and dropoffs. They’re popular and plentiful all along North America’s West Coast, with California standing out as a real Rockfish magnet.
 
 
Fishing for all kinds of Rockfish is heavily regulated in California and most of the West Coast, which means that it’s not possible to target this family of species year-round. The seasonality is subject to change, so make sure you’re “in the know” before you head out to cast a line.

How to Fish

Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to target Black Rockfish is by casting your line around rocky structure! If the weather’s on your side, smaller structure can provide plenty of action-packed opportunities. If it’s windy out, head to low-lying, wider-spread structure, as this will give you more room for maneuver. Make sure you pack some strong braided fishing line, in order to prevent breakages on rocks, reefs, and whatever else you come up against.
 
You’ll be able to employ a variety of techniques to hook your fish, with bottom fishing being the most popular. Black Rockfish are opportunistic predators, meaning that they’re easily attracted by a whole variety of bait fish and artificial lures.

Good to Eat?

Very! Rockfish in general are a popular food fish all along the West Coast, and Black Rockfish are no different. Make sure you follow local regulations regarding bag and size limits, and your Black Rockfish battle will see you rewarded with some tasty dinner options.
 

Fish Species Similar to Black Rockfish

Rockfish

Rockfish

Seabass (Black)

Seabass (Black)