Rockfish (Sebastes)

Rockfish

  • Food Value Excellent
  • Game Qualities Average
  • Habitats Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

It’s a mixed bag of fish that answer to the name of Rockfish. While on the East Coast, the term Rockfish is usually used to refer to Striped Bass, on the West Coast it is a different animal altogether. The variety of ‘Sebastes’ species that live in the North Pacific are all known as Californian Rockfish, and are among the longest living fish in the world, sometimes reaching over 200 years old!

When and Where

Most Rockfish of the Sebastes family live in the North Pacific. There are 56 different species of Rockfish in the Southern Californian Bight alone. They are bottom dwellers that can be found anywhere from close to the coastline to 9,800 ft (3,000 meters) deep. 

How to Fish

Rockfish are a fun species for kids to catch - both colorful and easy to pull up, they make for a great introduction to saltwater fishing. Live bait such as sardines or anchovies weighted to reach - and stay at - the bottom will normally be fairly sure of attracting a bite. Just beware of snagging your line on sharp rocks!

Lure fishermen and women can have good success targeting Rockfish with jigs. This is a good method of attracting the larger predators. Octopus-type lures are particularly effective, and attaching a strip of squid to the lure can make it irresistible. 

Rules and Regulations

Fishing for the various species of Rockfish is strongly controlled in California, so make sure you are familiar with the rules before heading out. You must be able to tell the different Rockfish species apart so you can be sure of not keeping a prohibited variety.

Good to Eat?

Very - this mild-tasting fish is a seafood staple on the West Coast. Larger fish usually have more tender flesh, which tastes good pretty much however you prepare it.

Fish Species Similar to Rockfish

Bass (Striped)

California Sheephead

Cod (Breaksea)

Seabass (Black)


Top Rockfish Fishing Charters

Top Rockfish Fishing Destinations