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Bottomfish Identification: Other Bottomfish

Anoplopoma fimbria

Commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls, jig handline, and longline gear.  Juveniles are occasionally caught by recreational harvesters in Puget Sound, which is a sablefish nursery.

Description: Sablefish are a large robust fish with an elongate body and two dorsal fins.  Adults are blackish or greenish gray above, usually with slightly paler blotches or a chainlike pattern on the upper back, and paler below.   The anal fin is similar in appearance to and opposite the second dorsal fin. This species has small scales and is weakly ctenoid.

Maximum Size: To 100 cm (30 in) in length.

Maximum Age: At least 90 years old.

Range/Habitat: They range from Japan north into the Bering Sea and south through Alaska and British Columbia to Mexico, with highest concentrations in Alaska.  Sablefish are wide-ranging and often migratory. Adults can be found on mud bottom in depths of 300 to 1,500 m (984-4,900 ft).


  • Beamish, R. J. and D.E. Chilton, 1982. Preliminary evaluation of a method to determine the age of sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 39(2), 277-287.
  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.
  • Kimura, D. K., A.M. Shimada, and F.R.  Shaw, 1998. Stock structure and movement of tagged sablefish, Anoplopoma fimbria, in offshore northeast Pacific waters and the effects of El Niño-Southern Oscillation on migration and growth. Fishery Bulletin, 96(3), 462-481.