Buy Your License Online! Buy Your License Online!

Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Pacific Ocean Perch
Sebastes alutus

Commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls and longline gear.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed.  See the Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.

Description:  Pacific Ocean perch (POP) have a dorsolaterally compressed body type. Adults range in color from deep brick red to light red, often with dark markings on the upper body.  Individuals may have some dark stippling on their sides and dark blotching on the caudal peduncle. POP have a lower jaw with a prominent, forward-directed symphyseal knob.  After capture POP resemble yellowmouth, sharpchin and redstripe rockfishes.  To distinguish between them, look for a pink-red stripe along the lateral line, indicating it is a yellowmouth.  Yellowmouth also have a relatively small symphyseal knob on the lower jaw and yellow/black blotches in the mouth.  Sharpchin rockfish tend to be more orange, have an indented profile to the rear of the eyes, which is absent in POPs, and a second anal spine longer than the third (which is not the case for POPs).

Maximum Size: To 53 cm (21.2 in) in length, and 2.05 kg (4.5 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age: At least 100 years old.

Range/Habitat: Pacific Ocean perch range from Honshu, Japan, into the Bering Sea, along the Aleutian Islands, and south to La Jolla, California. Adults are typically found at water depths ranging from 90 to 825 m (297-2,723 ft), depending on the season and gender.  During the summer months, most fish live at water depths between 200 and 275 m (660-908 ft), and move to depths of 300 to 450 m (990-1,485 ft) during the winter months. They migrate based on reproduction and ocean conditions.  They are a schooling fish that feeds in the water column.


  • Kramer, D. E., and V.M.  O'Connell, 1995. Guide to northeast Pacific rockfishes: genera Sebastes and Sebastolobus. Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska.
  • Love, M. S., M. Yoklavich, and L. Thorsteinson, 2002. The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. University of California Press.

Photo:  WDFW and A. Hennings