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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Tiger Rockfish
Sebastes nigrocinctus

Occasionally caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls and longline gear.  They are rarely caught by recreational harvesters in Puget Sound.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed.  See the Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.

Description: Tiger rockfish are a deep-bodied, heavy-spined species.  The head spines are thick and the parietal ridges are very thick and coarse. The body color is light pink to white overlaid with 5 dark red or black vertical bars.  Occasionally, the most posterior 2 stripes are somewhat connected. Two stripes also radiate back from the eyes.  Both flag and redbanded rockfishes also have red barring, but only have 4 bars, which are much broader and extend onto the head.

Maximum Size: To 61 cm (24 in) in length.

Maximum Age: 116 years old.

Range/Habitat: Tiger rockfish range from Kodiak Island and Prince William Sound, Alaska, to Tanner and Cortes Banks in southern California. They occur at water depths between 18 and 298 m (60-984 ft).  Adult fish live on rock outcrops that have caves and crevices.  They are rarely observed in the open during the day.


  • 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 and S. Axtell