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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

China Rockfish
Sebastes nebulosus

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

Description: The body of the China rockfish is blue or black in color, mottled with yellow and some white.  A very obvious yellow stripe, starting on the dorsal fin at about the third spine and running into and along the lateral line, is characteristic. The head spines are thick and the parietal ridges are very high and thick. This species has a relatively small mouth.

Maximum Size: To 45 cm (18 in) in length.

Maximum Age: At least 79 years old.

Range/Habitat: China rockfish are found from Kechemak Bay, Cook Inlet, Alaska, to San Nicolas Island in southern California. They are found at water depths between 3 and 128 m (10-420 ft).  This is a solitary species inhabiting high-energy, high-relief rocky outcrops with numerous crevices.  They are very territorial and rarely move less than 10 m (33 ft) from their home site.


  • 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: S. Axtell