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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Shortraker Rockfish
Sebastes borealis

Occasionally 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: As adults, shortraker rockfish are one of the largest rockfish species.  Underwater they are light pink, pink-orange or red with blotches and saddles.   All fins have some black and the dorsal fin may be white tipped. The mouth is red and may have black blotches.   After capture they are orange-pink or reddish orange.  Shortraker have stubby gill rakers, tipped with little nobs, and large pores on the lower jaw.  This species is most often confused with rougheye rockfish.  However, rougheye are distinguished by 2-10 spines below their eyes and long thin gill rakers on the first gill arch.

Maximum Size: To 120 cm (48 in) in length, and 23.0 kg (50.6 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age:  At least 157 years old.  One of the longest lived fishes in the world.

Range/Habitat: Shortraker rockfish range from Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands to Point Conception, California.  They are found at water depths from 25 to 1,200 m (83-3,960 ft), but are most abundant from about 300 to 500 m (990-1,650 ft).  Young fish live in shallower water than older individuals.  They occur on steeply sloped boulder fields surrounded by soft bottoms.


  • Love, M. S., M. Yoklavich, and L. Thorsteinson, 2002. The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. University of California Press.