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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Yelloweye Rockfish
Sebastes ruberrimus

Caught incidentally in the commercial fishery off the Washington coast with otter-trawls, longline, and jig handline gear. PUGET SOUND AND GEORGIA BASIN POPULATIONS OF YELLOWEYE ROCKFISH ARE LISTED AS THREATENED UNDER THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT AND RECREATIONAL RETENTION IN ALL WASHINGTON WATERS IS PROHIBITED. For more information, see:

Description: Yelloweye rockfish are one of the largest rockfish species.  They are identified by their bright orange to red body color and bright yellow eye. As juveniles they are dark red-orange and have two horizontal white stripes, one above and one below the lateral line.  The fins of juveniles may also be fringed with black or white and there is usually a white vertical band at the insertion of the caudal peduncle, along with white patches along the back of the dorsal fin.  As yelloweye rockfish age the stripes fade and the fish becomes lighter orange.  After capture the stripes are less apparent, but mottling is apparent on the dorsal side. Large adults have a raspy ridge above the eyes. 

Maximum Size: To 91 cm (36 in) in length, and 11.3 kg (25 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age: At least 118 years old.

Range/Habitat: Yelloweye rockfish range from Umnak Island and Prince William Sound, Alaska, to Ensenada, Baja California. They are extremely rare in Puget Sound and have been listed as a Threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. They have been reported at water depths from 15 to 549 m (48-1,800 ft), but adults are most common from about 91 to 180 m (300-600 ft).  Sub-adults and adults are generally solitary and live over areas of high relief with crevices, caves and other areas of refuge.


  • 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.

Addtional Information:

NOAA Fisheries Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) webpage

 Photos: S. Axtell