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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Sharpchin Rockfish
Sebastes zacentrus

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

Description: The body of the sharpchin rockfish is elongate with a distinct knob at the tip of the lower jaw.  Underwater they are white, pink or red and display 4 to 5 distinct brown or orange saddle marks.  One of the most distinct marks is the forked bar (“<”) radiating back from the eyes.  Once captured the saddle marks become less distinct although the forked bar is still recognizable.  Sharpchin are often confused with Pacific Ocean perch.  However, sharpchin rockfish have a second anal fin ray longer than the third and the suborbital bone may form a shelf below the nostrils.

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

Maximum Age:  At least 58 years old.

Range/Habitat: Sharpchin rockfish range from Semisopochnoi Island, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to San Diego, California. They have been found at water depths of 25 to 495 m (83-1,632 ft), but are most common at depths of 100 to 300 m (330-990 ft).  Adults are usually found over cobble-mud or boulder-mud bottoms.


  • 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.