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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Bocaccio Rockfish
Sebastes paucispinis

Caught commercially off the outer Washington coast with otter-trawls, longline, and jig handline gear.  Rarely caught by recreational harvesters off the outer Washington coast. THE PUGET SOUND AND GEORGIA BASIN POPULATIONS OF BOCACCIO ARE LISTED AS ENDANGERED UNDER THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT AND RECREATIONAL RETENTION IN ALL PUGET SOUND WATERS IS PROHIBITED. See:

Description: Bocaccio have an elongate body type and are laterally compressed.  They have a head that is pointed, a large mouth, and a lower jaw with a knob on the end (symphyseal knob) that greatly protrudes beyond the upper jaw.  Underwater, adult color varies from shades of pink to pink- brown, grey or red that extends down over the belly.  After capture the colors are brighter, usually reddish brown.  Young fish are generally light bronze with speckling over the sides and back. As bocaccio age, their color generally becomes darker and the speckling fades.  This is a large rockfish species.

Maximum Size: To 91 cm (36 in) in length, and 6.8 kg (15 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age:  At least 50 years old.

Range/Habitat: Bocaccio are found from Stepovak Bay, Alaska Peninsula, to Punta Blanca, Baja California. This species was once common on steep walls in portions of Puget Sound, now they are very rare.  They have been found at water depths ranging from 12 to 478 m (40-1,578 ft), but tend to be most abundant from 50 to 250 m (165-825 ft) in depth.

Fun Fish Fact: Like many rockfish species, the spines of bocaccio can be mildly poisonous and cause unpleasant pain if you are unlucky enough to get poked by one!


  • Love, M. S., M. Yoklavich, and L. Thorsteinson, 2002. The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. University of California Press.
  • Miller, D. J., and R.N. Lea, 1976. Guide to the coastal marine fishes of California. ANR Publications.

Addtional Information:

NOAA Fisheries Canary Rockfish (Sebastes pinniger) webpage

Photos: V. Okimura and S. Axtell