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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Rosethorn Rockfish
Sebastes helvomaculatus

Commonly 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 rosethorn is a small slender rockfish species with a large eye relative to its head size.  Its color varies underwater. Most often they are pink, orange or yellow with greenish mottling dorsally, lightening ventrally, and have yellow to greenish striping. Fins are all pink, green or yellow.   They have 4 to 5 white blotches tinged or bordered with light pink on their back. Upon capture rosethorn are yellow-orange with yellow on the back and dorsal fins.  After a few minutes their color turns to red-orange, orange, yellow-orange or pink sometimes with green mottling on their back.

Maximum Size: To 41 cm (16 in) in length.

Maximum Age: At least 87 years old.

Range/Habitat: Rosethorn rockfish range from Sitkinak Island, western Gulf of Alaska, to Guadalupe Island, Baja California. In Puget Sound they are found at water depths of 25 to 549 m (983-1,800 ft).  Rosethorn strictly stay close to or on the bottom and adults are commonly found resting on mud, cobble, boulders or other hard material.


  • 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.