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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Blue Rockfish
Sebastes mystinus

Occasionally caught by recreational harvesters off the Washington coast and occasionally caught in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed, with the exception of restricted fishing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  See the Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.

Description: Blue rockfish are a very deep bodied fish with large pectoral fins. They have blue-black or grey-blue body color with heavy mottling of dark grey or black.  Two stripes run down and back from the eye, with vague striping on the forehead. They are lighter ventrally. Blue rockfish resemble black rockfish after capture and when viewed underwater.  They are distinguished by having a more oval body shape than black rockfish, a smaller mouth, and being mottled, particularly over the head.

Maximum Size: To 53 cm (21 in) in length.

Maximum Age:  44 years old for male and 41 years old for female.

Range/Habitat:  Blue rockfish are found from Sitka, Alaska to northern Baja California. They have been found from the surface to depths of 549 m (1,800 ft). This species is most common from near the surface to about 90 m (297 ft).  They are a schooling rockfish and are found just off bottom over reefs and pinnacles.


  • 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.

Photos: V. Okimura