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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Puget Sound Rockfish
Sebastes emphaeus

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

Description: The Puget Sound rockfish is one of the smallest rockfish species and has a very slim body.  Underwater it is brown, pinkish red or copper with dark blotches fading to whitish ventrally.  It usually has a dark brown stripe running along the flanks below the lateral line.  A pale green bar may extend from the eye with green flecking above the lateral line.  These colors all fade after capture.  The mouth is red, fins are light in color, and the anal fin is rounded.  The abdomen appears dark from developing embryos in ripe females and the internal lining of the body cavity is dark.

Maximum Size: To 18.3 cm (7.2 in) in length.

Maximum Age: At least 22 years old.

Range/Habitat: Puget Sound rockfish range from Prince William Sound, Alaska, to Punta Gorda, California. Adults have been found at water depths of 3 to 366 m (10-1,200 ft).  They prefer high-relief rocky outcrops or boulder fields with high currents and often form small schools.


  • 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.