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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Shortbelly Rockfish
Sebastes jordani

Rarely caught by commercial harvesters off the Washington coast.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed.  See the Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.

Description: Shortbelly rockfish have a slender and elongate body with a deeply forked caudal fin.  Underwater they are silvery, pink or bronze with saddles on their backs and white or silvery splotches. Coloring fades to light ventrally.  After capture they are usually pink or olive pink and lack bars or other marks. One of the most distinguishing characteristics is the anal vent that is positioned halfway between the anal fin and the pelvic fin. Fish resting on the bottom may be more deeply pigmented or exhibit heavy saddles or blotching.

Maximum Size: To 35 cm (13.7 in) in length.

Maximum Age: At least 32 years old.

Range/Habitat: Shortbelly rockfish range from La Perouse Bank, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to Benito Island, Baja California. This species has been reported from Granite Island (off Kenai Peninsula), Alaska, but it has not been confirmed.  Adults are found at water depths from 91 to 491 m (300-1,620 ft), but are most common at about 150 to 200 m (495-660 ft).  Shortbelly are an active schooling species found in the water column and in aggregations on the bottom.


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