Black rockfish (Sebastes melanops)

Black Rockfish
Black rockfish
Category: Fish
Related species groups: Rockfish
State status: Candidate
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Commonly caught by recreational harvesters off the Washington coast.

State record

WeightAnglerLocationDate Caught
10.72 lbs Steven Charles Orr Ilwaco, Pacific County May 15, 2016

See all sportfish records

Description and Range

Physical description

Black rockfish are mottled grey and black with a black spot on the back of the spiny dorsal fin. This spot disappears as the fish grows. As adults they may have dark stripes visible on the head extending from the eye across the gill cover. The dark color on the back is often lighter on the sides and fades to nearly white on the belly. They are distinguished from other species by black mottling on the dorsal fin and a large mouth extending past the eye. This species has 8 weak head spines and lacks a symphyseal knob on the lower jaw.

Black rockfish can grow up to 69 cm (27.6 in) in length, and 5 kg (11 lbs) in weight. Maximum age is 50 years old.

Geographic range

Black rockfish range from the Amchitka and Kodiak islands, Alaska, to Huntington Beach in Southern California. They have been found at water depths up to 366 m (1,200 ft), but are most commonly found in waters shallower than 55 m (180 ft). This species is known to form large schools in and around kelp and artificial structures.


Rules and Seasons

Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed, with the exception of restricted fishing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.


This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.