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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Widow Rockfish
Sebastes entomelas

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

Description: The body of the widow rockfish is elongate and compressed with reduced head spines. The head is relatively short, with a lower jaw that projects slightly and a relatively small mouth. Underwater adults are various shade of brown to orange and get lighter ventrally.  Some have dusky patches or saddles that are not apparent after capture.  The fin membranes, particularly in the anal and pectoral fins, are black. The caudal peduncle is narrow and the anal fin has a strong posterior slant. Individuals smaller than 10 inches in length are lighter in color and are tinged with vague streaks of orange.

Maximum Size: To 59 cm (23.6 in) in length.

Maximum Age: At least 60 years old.

Range/Habitat: Widow rockfish range from the Middle Albatross Bank off Kodiak Island, Alaska, to Todos Santos Bay, Baja California. Adults have been captured at water depths between 24 and 549 m (80-1,812 ft), although they are most commonly found from 140 to 210 m (462-693 ft).  This species can be found well above the bottom over boulders or other high-relief bottoms.  Off the Washington and Oregon coasts fish disperse into small schools during the day, well above the bottom, then form dense schools near the bottom during the night.


  • 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.
  • Miller, D. J., and R.N. Lea, 1976. Guide to the coastal marine fishes of California. ANR Publications.

 Photos: V. Okimura